Uptown Light

Across the Street
Across the Street

Somewhere in yesterday’s post about the broken house in the good neighborhood, I promised that I would show you a little bit of the area. What I didn’t tell you was the quality of the post storm dusk light. I’m not sure I realized what I’d photographed.


I really didn’t look at it very carefully until I started working on it in post production. Then the picture began to reveal itself to me. I really didn’t do all that much to it. I didn’t have to. Nature did most of the work. I brought up the color. A little bit. I darkened it. A little bit. I sharpened some of the soft edges. A little bit.

That’s about it.

More important than the picture is the house. It looks like it was built around the same year my first house was renovated. Middle 1880s. Yes. 1880s. It was around that era when you could order a house from Sears. For those of you of a certain age, you might remember those big giant Sears mail order catalogs. In the 1800s through pre-World War I, you could order a ready to assemble house. From those catalogs. You could pick just about everything individually so that your  house didn’t look like the last 1,000 they sold. None of them had to look like each other. It arrived by train. In crates. It was delivered to your property in a horse carriage. Or, a couple of horse carriages. You assembled it. But, you really needed carpentry skills. And, plumbing skills. And, finishing skills.These are high quality structures and they weren’t made like the ready to assemble bookcase you bought at Ikea.

For the record, the first house I owned in New Orleans was built in 1837. It was Creole four room house. It was the second common home on a former plantation. The kitchen was outside in the backyard to prevent fires. It was built of sugar brick that was reinforced with four-post wood. The bricks were plastered over, not dry walled. The man who owned it in 1880 remodeled it into a Victorian-looking side hall house. That meant it had a long hallway down the right side with most of the rooms to the left. And, the kitchen was brought inside the main structure. It about doubled in size. He did enough of those Sears-inspired renovations that he is well-known in New Orleans architecture. Lutz Houses, they are called. None of them really look alike except in feeling.

The house in the picture does not look like major renovations were done to it. It is an original Sears-styled house. But, the roof has been heavily modified to keep rainwater  from pooling. And, the roof is metal. That’s not a New Orleans thing. I think that’s borrowed from some New Mexican structures. And, yeah. The temperature dips down enough that those two chimneys have probably been in use since the house was built. I doubt this house was ever flooded.

One more thing. You must be wondering what a house from Sears cost. Anywhere from $650 to about $1,200 shipped, but unassembled. I have no idea what property in this neighborhood cost. Probably not much, since at the time this house was built it was located way out in the sticks. It might not have even called New Orleans. It might have been in the City of Jefferson. I’d have to check. Of course, there was also labor costs. I’d guess with everything, the owner might have paid around $5,000. Today? In this neighborhood? Maybe $750,000.



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