From the Bayou Country to Esplanade Avenue

New Orleans has got soul – there is no doubt in that. It is, my opinion, one of the most unique cities in our country, with no shortage of spirit, French influences and inexplicable southern sophistication. And anyone that has followed C&C for a while knows how much I adore the city’s sentiments and my own family history it has played host to. A celebratory weekend trip presented an opportunity to visit a once-treasured hotel deeply tied to my family’s Louisiana lineage…

My Great Grandparents, Edward and Gertrude Munson, owned Glenwood, a sugar plantation estate where they entertained and delighted guests with their southern graces in the form of dinner parties, stately accommodations and infamous café brûlot. They were an elegant, intoxicating couple and the pace of life at Glenwood, just west of New Orleans, was slow and seducing.  Described as “an atmosphere of romantic charm and beauty” on a vintage postcard (below), the property was encapsulated by mossy oaks, scents of magnolia and pecan trees. My Great Grandmother Gertrude, dubbed as “Miss Gertrude” was just as enchanting and bewitching, as evidenced in a profile piece in the 1955 installment of Reader’s Digest titled “The Most Unforgettable Character I’ve Met” (read here).  

“But those who love the scent of sweet olive and mimosa, or the Louis Philippe rose, or the old ways of the South, succumb to Glenwood’s spell.”

– Reader’s Digest, 1955.

Despite the magic “spell” that captivated the plantation for decades, a series of events occurred forever changing Gertrude’s famed Glenwood. Tragically, after the war, the cane-growing business took a hit and the mosaic disease destroyed a great deal of crops. Just in time, my Great Grandmother Gertrude triumphantly saved the plantation by allowing guests to come stay at the plantation for a fee. An ad was discreetly placed, stating:

“Louisiana couple living in their ancestral mansion will take winter guests; fine food; informal atmosphere.” 

Of those winter guests was one of the most celebrated – Louise Crane (of Crane & Co. Stationary). Louise had stayed at Glenwood for several months at a time, and became dear friends with my Great Grandmother Gertrude. Even more dismally, after Glenwood was revitalized, the plantation burnt to the ground. This, understandably, left my Great Grandparents in a state of uncertainty and instability far from their days of opulence. Around this time, a tender invitation by Louise Crane was made, welcoming my Great Grandparents to help manage her newly acquired hotel in the French Quarter of New Orleans. The Lamothe House Hotel, on Esplanade Avenue was the beginning of their life in New Orleans.

For many years, the hotel served as a southern sanctuary, with an enchanting garden in the exterior courtyard. Instructions to “wire, write or telephone” to make a reservation appear in this advertisement. 

My Great Grandparents worked fastidiously with Louise to create a hotel that provided their guests with the same level of graciousness as Glenwood. The hotel was a passion project of sorts, and one that my family was deeply attached to. It saw a great deal of success in the early days with cheerful guests coming and going, and frequently profiled in press and publications for its charming accommodations.

The Lamothe House Hotel, on the cover of Southern Living’s March 1981 issue.

For years growing up, my sister and I would hear tales of the famed Lamothe House and our connection to the south. My Father was even at one point a bell boy! Our first introduction to the hotel was during a family stay in our younger years, where memories of the fish pond in the enclosed garden and a narrow, dimly lit hall with its perimeter lined in antique mirrors and marble-top consoles lived in my young mind. While this was our first introduction, we were perhaps too young to truly savor the overall experience in the crescent city.

Last weekend, joined by my sister again –  now twenty years later from our initial visit – we meandered over to Esplanade Avenue to revisit The Lamothe House. We couldn’t help feel a bit removed from the history and saddened by seeing that aesthetically, the hotel had seemingly lost a great deal of its southern stature. Its tall french shutters were slightly tattered, and that narrow hall I had recalled felt lonely and lost in the era of Miss Gertrude and Louise. In the courtyard, a gardener was fastening a potted hibiscus to a trellis, while young women lounged poolside. While there were young patrons and evidence of new life, it seemed to linger in a former sentiment. In my mind, as we roamed around, I refused to accept the present, still holding on to the bygone era of those that shaped its place in New Orleans, the life Miss Gertrude, Louise Crane and the other characters helped cultivate. It is for these stories I will forever remain connected to New Orleans.

To read more on Miss Gertrude and Glenwood Plantation, visit here.

The Lamothe House Hotel, June 2017. 

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The Hacienda at Scribe

Scribe Winery (Sonoma, CA), recently transformed a deteriorated, flaking 19th century building (once the home of a turkey-farming family), into a hip haunt, vibrant with fauna and food. The structure was abandoned for twenty years and after used for gatherings sparingly by the winery, the Mariani brothers (owners) took care to restore and reimagine what is now affectionately known as The Hacienda. Each detail is meticulously delivered – from the bolstered pillows on the custom-made banquets, to the seductive playlist flooding the tasting terrace – the setting is a feast for the senses. C&C had the pleasure of examining this new structure whilst on a California adventure.

C&C Tip: Enjoy Scribe’s Food & Wine pairing on the front terrace of the Hacienda. Feast on garden Tokyo radishes and a Scribe salad with noyeaux and orange vinaigrette and blossoms, accompanied by a glass of Scribe’s 2014 Estate Chardonnay. (Even as one that does not typically drink Chardonnay, I fancy this varietal very much!). Savor strawberries while watching the palms sway and laughter roar behind a statuesque pillar nearby. Salut!

View the restoration in Architectural Digest, here.

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A beautiful “orphanage of things”

When you learn that Peter Hone has spent his career as a museum guard, antiques dealer and expert plaster caster, his world, as illustrated above, begins to make sense.

Peter Hone’s home in Notting Hill is an absolute treasure chest of stone urns, neoclassical marble busts, Roman and Greek statuettes and 19th-century antiquities. It is a romantic feast for the eyes and soul. Commanding the center of his main living space is a cabana-striped circular table, one you might find in a parlor in Palm Beach or Cannes, breathing life into a room full of elegant objects.  These objects he refers to as an “orphanage of things” transcribed in a piece written by Christie’s in October 2016. This collection – the orphanage – is rather fitting, as Peter was once an orphan himself. As the Christie’s piece notes, Peter is drawn to pieces with unusual stories, nurturing those that have been “left to stew” from a distant past. Dare I say, but in my ways, I identify with Peter’s need to nurture and collect.

The Peter Hone Collection was offered as part of the Interiors sale on 26 October at Christie’s South Kensington. Browse all lots from the sale here and be certain to read the magnificent piece by Christie’s here

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Brass on the Brain

Brass Knot_One Kings Lane_Design

I’ve developed an affinity with brass – yes, that yellow alloy of copper and zinc. I find the metal rather unique as it can make a strong statement in even the simplest form. It can also lend to particularly modern aesthetics, or, equally, more traditional pieces. Brass evokes its own glamour without much exertion or force. Above, a 6″ brass knot via One Kings Lane, a fun objet for the home. Also loving this tiny “c table” from CB2.

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