New Orleans is full of architectural wonders. Some architecture dates back to the early 1700s when it was first settled by the French. Much of its architecture is also influenced by the Spanish—think ironwork balconies and bright colors. Shotgun homes are common throughout the city, characterized by their narrow rectangular shape. There is also plenty of urban decay and vine-covered buildings juxtaposed with ornate mansions. It’s difficult to nail down a list of the most beautiful buildings in New Orleans, but here’s a sampling that should be on every explorer’s list.
Once the seat of the Spanish colonial city hall of New Orleans, The Cabildo is now one of the buildings incorporated into the Louisiana State Museum system. Located on Jackson Square, next to the St. Louis Cathedral, it offers historic significance, as it was the site of the Louisiana Purchase transfer in 1803. It was also the seat of the Louisiana Supreme Court from 1868 until 1910. Roof repairs on the Cabildo caused a massive fire 1988 that led to extensive damage to the roof, cupola, and its third floor. The building was repaired over the next six years and re-opened in 1994.
The picturesque and beautifully restored Melrose Mansion, built in an ornate Victorian style, is situated on the outskirts of the lower French Quarter in the colorful Faubourg Marigny neighborhood. This gem of a building houses 21 rooms available for rent and is often the site of weddings or other festive celebrations.
This historic residence is located in the French Quarter and is currently a museum that focuses on some of its past residents, including Confederate General Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard, who lived there after the Civil War ended, and author Frances Parkinson Keyes, who was there in the 1950s. For the New Orleans Tricentennial celebration, the museum is also hosting a number of springtime lecture series, book-signings, and other events that celebrate the city’s history.