THE CORBEL

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Owning a Piece of Louisiana History, The Campbell Mansion c. 1857

campbell mansion jim blanchard

Many of you share in our love for old things and several of you want to know the stories behind our found pieces. While we don't always have a ton of details for all of our unique finds, sometimes we can tell you where they originate from.

Well, do we have a treat for you! This blog post we not only have some of the sweetest salvage to show off, but we have the history behind it, too!

We had a local inquire if we would be interested in some demolition salvage of an old New Orleans' house. The boss man went to have a look at the salvage and it was love at first sight. Three loads later and our warehouse was filled with the unique treasures. At that point all we knew was that the pieces came out of an old house off of St. Charles Avenue. As we looked at the details and pure enormity of the things, we realized this wasn't just any house, it was a mansion. One of our guys found the address number on the original front pediment and our research began!

campbell mansion salvage nola

A piece of old 805 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans, Louisiana, ladies and gentlemen!

We began scouring the internet to find information on our mystery mansion and discovered some pretty interesting history.

campbell mansion salvage nola

Designed by architect Lewis Reynolds, the house was built in 1857 for Dr. George W. Campbell, a Kentucky man, who decided to make roots in Louisiana. 

Rumor has it that Dr. Campbell built his mansion to rival another well-to-do family. Perhaps this was a case of keeping up with the Joneses? Constructed during a boom in residential architecture, the Campbell mansion was said to be one of the finest private homes of its time in America! Well known for its spacious rooms and grandeur, the home hosted many social events attended by popular artists, actors and other important figures of society.

Unfortunately, the high times of the mansion were to be short-lived. It is rumored that the Campbell family was abruptly thrown out with just the clothes on their backs. (Can you imagine being tossed out of your own newly constructed dream house?!) (Union)General Benjamin Butler took command of New Orleans during its fall in the Civil War and according to the stories, when he arrived in town and saw the stately mansion decided he would take immediate possession of the residence. During his stay in New Orleans, he was known for being harsh and rumored to be pretty corrupt. He was actually nicknamed "Silver Spoon" because of his reputation of stealing the silverware of the residences he would search. The General was eventually replaced when his thieving became so great! The poor mansion had no chance at all. He robbed it of its art and many valuables.

campbell mansion salvage nola
campbell mansion salvage nola

(Pictures above show transitions of the property. Originally having a grand residential entrance, a storefront was built in front of the home that eventually became its new face.)

After the war, the mansion was sold and once again served as luxurious private residence. By the early 1900s, the neighborhood began to change from residential to business and the old home took on a variety of transformations. From a school, to apartments to an all-night café and even a storefront, the once glamorous mansion lived out its final days. In 1965, it was demolished to make room for a used car lot.

The end.

Or is it?

Fortunately enough we were able to obtain some of the salvage out of this beautiful piece of history. This was a time where the finest artisans known for their crafts were chosen to help with the construction of these massive homes. Our desire is that many of you will fall in love with the beauty and history of this old mansion, incorporate a piece of it in your own homes and help the handiwork to live on!

There aren’t many documented images of the home, but what we have as salvage paints a pretty good picture of the splendor that once was the Campbell mansion. Have a look!

campbell mansion salvage nola
campbell mansion salvage nola

  At first glance, these doors may not look much different than the doors you can usually find in our warehouse, but for scale, take note that the guys holding them up are around 6' tall. These beauties are monsters!

campbell mansion salvage nola
campbell mansion salvage nola
campbell mansion salvage nola

(Enormous hand-carved archways with details that would blow your mind! These would have adorned the entrance arches into the large drawing rooms used for entertaining. They were accented by embellished corbels and detailed moldings.)

campbell mansion salvage nola
campbell mansion salvage nola

(Intricately carved, multi-dimensional door pediments) (Wouldn't these make the sweetest mantels or headboard pieces EVER!?)

campbell mansion salvage nola
campbell mansion salvage nola

(Large carved panels that could have hugged the ceilings or entrance ways)

campbell mansion salvage nola

(Original curved staircase leading up to a dome light, additional views of curved arches and corbels)

campbell mansion salvage nola
campbell mansion salvage nola

(Remnants of the grand staircase)

campbell mansion salvage nola
campbell mansion salvage nola

(Stunning rosewood balusters that lined the curved staircase)

campbell mansion salvage nola

(multi-pieced, hand-carved corbels - breathtaking!)

campbell mansion salvage nola
campbell mansion salvage nola
campbell mansion salvage nola
campbell mansion salvage nola
campbell mansion salvage nola
campbell mansion salvage nola

 Because we don't have many pictures of the interior of the Campbell home, we are left to imagine where some of the architectural salvage was implemented. What we do know is that this place was fancy and most likely, no detail was left undone!

The time period that the mansion was built was really the foundation of the New Orleans architecture that we know today. In those times, artisans and craftsmen who were the best in their fields, were hired out from all over the country. Architecture in its truest art form!

We are so excited to have had the opportunity to obtain some of this beautiful history - especially since it's a part of our very own Louisiana heritage.

We would love to show our appreciation for the art and history of architecture by giving this home a chance to live on! The pieces are flying out of here faster than we can put tags on them, so COME, friends!

If you're in New Orleans around St. Charles and Julia, a surprise awaits you... the original carriage house that survived the years and demolition still stands! A tiny reminder of what once was...

campbell mansion salvage nola

If you've stumbled upon this blog post and are new to our business, please check out both of our websites to learn more about our products and love for architecture!

http://www.thecorbel.com/

http://www.charletbros.com/

online resources:

http://old-new-orleans.com/NO_Campbell_Spofford.html 
(visit above link to read attached newspaper articles about the home)

artwork by Jim Blanchard

books:

Christovich, Mary Louise. (1972) New Orleans Architecture: The American Sector

Herman Boehm de Bachellé Seebold. (1941) Old Louisiana Plantation Homes and Family Trees, Volume 1