Few places offer the chance to experience the lifestyle of our ancestors of more than 150 years ago. The 1850 House is one of these rare places, offering a glimpse of upper-middle-class life in antebellum New Orleans, the most prosperous period in the city’s history.
The 1850 House doesn’t represent any single family’s house. Rather, it reflects mid-19th century prosperity, taste and daily life in New Orleans. The house is furnished with art and décor that speak to that era as well, including a set of John Slidell’s china, Old Paris porcelain, New Orleans silver, and dozens of notable paintings and furnishings that, taken as a whole, transport you back in time.
The 1850 House is part of the Lower Pontalba building. Standing on opposite sides of Jackson Square, the Upper and Lower Pontalba buildings were designed and financed by the Baroness Micaela Almonester de Pontalba. Her father, Don Andrés Almonester y Roxas, was a Spanish colonial landowner who helped finance The Cabildo, St. Louis Cathedral and The Presbytère.
Inspired by the imposing Parisian architecture the Baroness favored, the distinctive rowhouses were intended to serve as both elegant residences and retail establishments. In 1921, the Pontalba family sold the Lower Pontalba Building to philanthropist William Ratcliffe Irby, who bequeathed it to the Louisiana State Museum in 1927.
Located at the front of the museum, the 1850 House Museum Store helps support the Louisiana State Museums through sales of daily tours and merchandise. Many books with topics including history, food, hauntings, architecture, and children’s stories are available as well as handmade art, jewelry, pottery and crafts from local Louisiana artists. Online store is also available.
The 1850 House Museum Store is operated by Friends of the Cabildo–a private, non-profit volunteer group providing financial and volunteer support for the Louisiana State Museums, its projects and its properties since 1956.