Historic Structures

Robert A. Grinnan House New Orleans Louisiana

Date added: March 10, 2016 Categories: Louisiana House Greek Revival

The building is significant as one of the best works of Henry Howard, the architect who later designed the more famous Belle Grove Plantation, in which he used the same Greek Corinthian order. It should be mentioned that earlier writers, including Nathaniel C. Curtis in his book New Orleans, Its Old Houses, Shops and Public Buildings attribute the design to James Gallier, Sr.

It was designed for three lots with a frontage of only 91 feet. Additional land was acquired in portions at various dates. Originally, it did not have the spacious setting which it now has. Major alterations have been few, and they have been handled without detriment to the original design. The addition of the small room to the rear of Room No. 104 was made during the occupancy of Doctor George K. Logan (1878-93). This work included also the bathroom above. An elevator was added by Miss Sarah Henderson, who owned it from 1914 to the date it was sold to the Rellys. In the summer of 1963, the elevator was relocated.

Although the individual rooms in this house are not as large as maybe found in many homes in the Garden District, the Grinnan House has proved quite adaptable to a gracious modern life with its ease of circulation, its well-proportioned rooms, and the unity and refinement of the details. It is conceived in terms of an Italianate villa without rigid symmetry of plan and massing. Roughly the plan dimensions are 53'-0" x 82'-0", excluding the entrance portico, which is disposed asymmetrically on the facade. Across the front are three rooms: The entrance and stair hall on the extreme right, followed by two parlors which, however, are not arranged in the usual manner of interconnecting double parlors. Behind the first parlor is a hallway connecting the stair hall with the second parlor. There is also a doorway from this hallway which leads to the dining room and another which leads to the open loggia on the exterior. The modern elevator has been adapted inconspicuously to a space between this hallway and the loggia. Full-length, doublehung windows which disappear into the ceiling connect the dining room to the loggia, thus providing free circulation between the social areas of the house and the exterior living space. In line with the dining room, and separating it from the kitchen, is a pantry, which also has access to the loggia. Flanking the length of the kitchen are a china closet, servants dining room, and a flight of stairs - all of which are separated from the kitchen by a hallway.

The single addition to the downstairs plan was made as a small office behind the larger parlor. Upstairs, the plan arrangement is identical.

The entrance portico, with its white marble steps and gray and white marble tile floor, is supported by six Corinthian columns, which are carved in wood. The ceiling is coffered with exposed beams trimmed with moldings. The wooden entablature consists of a plain frieze with dentils and cornice molding. The flat roof over the portico is trimmed at the edges with a cresting of palmette antefixae. Also on the entrance facade are two balconies, the one on the second floor being supported by large wooden scroll brackets. These balconies have cast-iron railings and posts. The posts are trimmed with brass. In addition, on the north side, there is a roofed wrought-iron porch outside the dining room. In this porch is a stair leading down to a wine-cellar, which is located below the dining room. On the opposite side of the dining room is a two-story open loggia framed with square wooden pillars and a wooden balustrade on the second floor. The flagstone flooring extends out as an open stepped terrace into the garden. The loggia was originally of four equal bays until one of the bays was enclosed by Dr. Logan, sometime between 1878 and 1893.

The window openings are not treated uniformly. On the entrance facade, the windows are full length with double-hung fifteen-light wooden sash. They operated into pockets in the wall above the head to leave a free, six-foot-high clearance when opened. These windows are fitted with interior, louvered wooden shutters. The only exterior trim at these openings is projecting molded metal cornices, painted the same color as the wall and resting on block-type brackets. On the north side of the front block, there are three plain 12-light windows on the first floor without trim or shutters. It is interesting to note that only the center window, which opens into the stair hall, is a true window. The other two windows are blind, and are set into the wall complete with interior louvered shutters. On the second floor (north side) there are three windows vertically aligned with these three and equipped with wooden louvered shutters. On the curved wall of the stairway, about midway up, there is a curved, 15-light, doublehung window with fanlight above.

There are four stuccoed brick chimneys. In addition, there are six circular sheet metal attic ventilators. The conical hoods capping these ventilators are decorated with a pointed-scallop valance on each.