Tuesday, March 13, 2012

2463 North Villere

2463 North Villere Street

On January 7, 1948, Mrs. Bertha Conrad, the divorced wife of Charles F. Liemann, sold her family home at 2463 N. Villere to one Lester J. Tetard.  The 1948 sale brought to an end the first episode in the life of the home built by veteran police officer Felix Conrad, Mrs. Bertha's grandfather, in 1910.  The intervening years witnessed two world wars, a changing neighborhood, births and funerals.  With our posts in the next few days, we will investigate the complete history of our lot, the St. Roch/New Marigny neighborhood, and New Orleans.  In today's post you will learn more about Our House Story - the story of 2463 North Villere Street.  Why did Felix Conrad build our home when he did?  Who lived in our house?  Why do we live on a key lot?  Why does the architectural style of our home differ from the homes around us?  

The story of our house begins on June 28, 1886, when Felix Conrad bought the property from John Theodore Gustave Guel, a twice-married watchmaker with a store at 201 Rampart Street.   After Felix bought the properties (square 612, lots 21-22), he moved his family into the house then standing on lot 21, numbered 2459-61 N. Villere.  This house stood next to ours until February 2012 when it was found to be in Imminent Danger of Collapse and demolished.  Based on city directories dating back to the 1860’s, we find that Felix Conrad always lived near the other members of his family in the downriver neighborhoods of St. Roch, Marigny, and New Marigny.  
Source: New Orleans Notarial Archives
The 1883 Robinson Atlas of New Orleans, above, shows square 612 with lots 27 and 28 undivided.  The lots in question lay just above the "LER" of Villere.  The building shown on those lots is 2459-61 N. Villere.

Nearing retirement from the New Orleans Police Department, Felix Conrad moved into the recently constructed house next door to his sometime after April 1910.   Though Felix remained on the force until the beginning of 1913, he would have known that his working years were nearly over suggesting he built the house at 2463 N. Villere as a place to relax and enjoy his impending retirement from the NOPD with his wife, Josephine.     

Source: Picture courtesy of the Preservation Resource Center
Felix Conrad and his family moved into 2459-61 N. Villere, left, in 1886.  The installation of the bank vault onto the house for an art project in 2008 led ultimately to the destruction of the house.  In 1910, Conrad built 2463 N. Villere, right, where he lived out his remaining years.

Census records show that Felix and Josephine (also called Feiner and Eleanor) had a number of children in their home at 2459 N. Villere.  Josephine's mother lived with the family for a time, as well.  Surely Felix and Josephine felt crowded by 1910, in their 60s and still living in half of an already too-small double with their youngest, Bertha, 29, and her two children Lillian and Bertha, nine and six, respectively.  

1909 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map:  The red box outlines Lots 21-22 of Square 612.  The structure indicated here corresponds to 2459-61 N. Villere Street.  

How do we know the house was built in 1910?  Several sources point to this year as the likeliest date of construction.  First, the records of the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans show the first water connection at 2463 N. Villere on April 16, 1910.  Second, the tax assessments for the property jumped from $500 in 1909 to $1800 in 1911.  Third, the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps show no structure at the location in 1909.  Despite the April 16, 1910 water connection, the 1910 United States Census, taken on April 28, 1910, lists the Conrad family as still living at 2459 N. Villere.  Ultimately, the 1911 New Orleans city directory shows Felix J. Conrad at 2463 N. Villere.  Surely, continued into the summer of 1910, after which Felix and his family moved their belongings into their new home. 

We know they were as excited to move into their new home in 1910 as we were to move into the same home 100 years later.

Our next posts will explore how Felix Conrad's professional career made him an integral part of the history of New Orleans.  

Don't forget to visit Our House Stories to learn more about the history of your home! 


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