"Rochon Cottage"
1515 Pauger Street
New Olreans, LA 70116
Biography of........... Musee Rosette Rochon

The Musèe Rosette Rochon

The Museum

The only extant structure built by Rosette Rochen, the Musee stands at 1515 Pauger Street in the Faubourg Marigny of the eastern edge of the world-famed French Quarter.

The house dates from about 1815 and has survived as a fine and rare early example of a Creole cottage, the most prevalent form of domestic housing in antebellum New Orleans.

As a historic house museum, the Musee Rosette Rochen seeks to honor the accomplishments of New Orleans free people of color, the most successful such population in the United States prior to the Civil War, by depicting the people's long-lost lifestyle of grace and dignity.

1515-17 Pauger Street ne Bagatelle

This is the only surviving structure of demoiselle Rochen f.c.l. (free woman of color); one of a group of gen de couleur libres (free persons of color). She purchased land in the Faubourg Marigney - March 16,1806.

This Pauger Street Creole cottage was probably built around 1830, possibly by Andre Marstain h.c.l. (free man of color). He was known to have built other buildings for her. The house is the proud result of a woman of discernment and taste, though now sadly despoiled. It stills exerts considerable charm, as dose its chatelaine.

The house, of significant historical and architectural merit, cries out for a patient and knowledgeable restoration to preserve it for posterity, as a vibrant example of the arts of craftsmen who were Creoles of color.
Don Richmond has proposed to painstakingly restore this house as museum of Creole artifacts profiling the important building and decorative arts of this historical lifestyle. For more information contact Don Richmond - 949-3326.

Newspaper Article

For Don Richmond, the old Creole cottage at 1515-17 Pauger St. has always been more than just another old house in a colorful section of the city.

Richmond, an interior designer who has renovated several homes in New Orleans, said he "fell in love with the romance of the building" nearly 20 years ago when he learned about its connection to free people of color in New Orleans in the 19th century.

He bought it in 1977 for $55,000 and lived there two years before selling it for $65,000 and moving to San Francisco.
He lived there several years before moving back to New Orleans.

In the meantime, the house fell into disrepair. In 1995, Richmond lamenting the deterioration, bought the house again at a sheriff's auction. He assumed a $20,000 mortgage and paid off $19,000 in liens against the property.

"Once I started thinking of the house as more than another rental property, more than just a nice old building, I began to realize how important it is to the city's history," Richmond said. "I started to picture it as it once was and as it could be."

Richmond wants to turn the house into a museum that would reflect the history of thousands of free people of color who settled in the city and helped build it.

Home of Haitian refugee

The house was built by Rosette Rochon, who along with many others, flooded New Orleans in the late 1700s to escape a revolution in Haiti, Richmond's research showed.

Rochon became a successful businesswoman in New Orleans and invested heavily in property, Richmond said. Rochon acquired her first property in the city in 1806 and continued purchasing property until her death in 1860, according to Richmond's research.

She owned several grocery stores and rental property and made loans on which she earned interest. She also owned slaves, whom she rented out, Richmond said. When Rochon died in 1860, she left an estate valued at $98,000 that included properties in the French Quarter and Faubourg Marigny.

The house on Pauger is the only part of her holdings that remain. Rochon is believed to have built it as her residence between 1820 and 1835. Andre Martain Lamotte, a free man of color known to have constructed other buildings for Rochon, probably built the house, Richmond said.

The house is a typical Creole cottage with four rooms downstairs and two dormered rooms upstairs. The main house has been converted into two apartments. A separate building across the back of the 30-by-60 lot contains another apartment. It originally housed a kitchen, laundry, privy and other rooms.

Detailing on the house shows the influence of Greek revival and gothic architecture.

The building is at its "lowest ebb" now, Richmond said. "It needs some immediate work, but more importantly, I want to see it restored and preserved long-term now." He said.
Richmond has applied to the Louisiana Cultural Development Department for a $20,000 matching grant to restore the house and dedicate it as a museum. If he gets the grant, he will use the money to stabilize the chimney, the roof and the dormers. He hopes that grant will lead to other grants and support from the community.
An authentic restoration would cost about $500,000 Richmond estimates.

Once restored, Richmond envisions furnishing it the way it would have looked in the 1800's, with exhibits and videos about free people of color and their life in New Orleans. It would be open for tours by students, locals and tourists.

"These people had a major influence on the city and we have nothing that reflects that,"Richmond said.

The Amistad Research Center at Tulane University, which is among the nation's largest repositories specializing in the history of African-Americans, has a wealth of information about free people of color in New Orleans.

Although the years have taken their toll on the Pauger street house, it still reflects the way of life it was built for. The sills at the bottom of the French doors on the front of the building are worn from the feet of countless children who once stood there watching life on the street. A gallery that stretches across the back of the house was used for dining.

"When it was built, people usually entered from the back. That's were the living was done," Richmond said. "The bedrooms were up front."

The architectural detail, the luxurious touches, the craftsmanship all indicate that Rochon built the houses as a residence, "It has so many details I don't believe she built it as a rental," Richmond said. Although many original details have been destroyed, Richmond said the house still has some shutters, doorknobs and moldings that can be copied during a restoration.

Richmond believes it could begin operating as a museum during renovation, saying the restoration work itself would be an interesting exhibit, as would the structural and construction features of the house.

"I'm hopeful I'll get the grant and this will become a museum," Richmond said. "So much New Orleans history has slipped away while we weren't paying attention. I don't want this to end up that way."

Courtesy of
Don G. Richmond
Director/ Owner of
Musee Rosette Rochon Foundation

Questions, Comments, Dead Links? Email Webmaster
**All articles taken from selected reading materials are the sole property of the authors listed. In no way are these articles credited to this site. The material presented is only a brief presentation of writings from the publisher & producer of each article.
Copyright French Creoles of America®, All Rights Reserved