The following is a description of Carrollton presented on the State Dept. of Culture, Recreation and Tourism website:
The Carrollton Historic District is an urban area of approximately two-and-a-half square miles with a predominantly residential character. Although the town of Carrollton was platted in 1833, the district’s historic building stock, with a few exceptions, represents the period c.1880 to 1937. Since that time Carrollton has not suffered an unacceptable loss of integrity.
The town of Carrollton began on the site of the McCarty plantation in what was then Jefferson Parish. The plantation was acquired in 1831 by real estate investors Laurent Millaudon, John Slidell9 Samuel Kohn, and the New Orleans Canal and Banking Company. In 1833 they hired surveyor Charles F. Zimpel to subdivide the land, and the new town was given the name Carrollton.
The principal factor in the early development of the town was the New Orleans and Carrollton Railroad. By 1836 steam cars were commuting from Carrollton to New Orleans every two hours, seven days a week. The Jefferson and Lake Pontchartrain Railroad, begun in 1851, ran from Carrollton to Lake Pontchartrain, where steamers from across the lake and Mobile docked. With their terminals in Carrollton, these two railroads were responsible for a real estate boom in the town. Carrollton had 36 houses in 1841; a decade later its population had grown to 1,470.
Because of the railroad link, Carrollton developed as a “bedroom” suburb of New Orleans. It was essentially a rural village populated by middle and upper class New Orleanians. Two of the most noteworthy houses to survive from this early period are the Wilkinson House, an 1850 Gothic villa, and the Warren House, an 1844 Greek Revival mansion (see landmarks section). Drawings in the New Orleans Notarial Archives reveal that there were numerous other grand houses in antebellum Carrollton, some of which may have been summer homes of wealthy New Orleanians.
The town of Carrollton was incorporated March 10, 1845 and became a city March 17, 1859. It was the parish seat from 1852 until 1874, when it was annexed to New Orleans. The 1855 Greek Revival parish courthouse survives to represent this era in Carrollton’s history (see landmarks section).
Carrollton occupies a low lying saucer of land approximately six miles up the Mississippi River from the original city of New Orleans. Much of the district is below sea level and must be protected from flooding by a high levee along the Mississippi. Hence, despite its riverside location, it is impossible to actually see the river from within the district. Because Carrollton is located along a relatively straight stretch of the Mississippi, it has a fairly regular speculative street grid. The streets do not curve to follow bends in the river as they do in other New Orleans neighborhoods. The district is crisscrossed by three major boulevard thoroughfares–St. Charles Avenue, Claiborne Avenue and Carrollton Avenue. Carrollton forms a “backbone” for the neighborhood and would be considered by most the area’s principal avenue. Its well treed median is traversed by a historic streetcar line whose cars all date from the period 1922-24. This line is considered the lineal descendant of the New Orleans and Carrollton Railroad previously mentioned. It is a continuation of the St. Charles Avenue Streetcar Line (N.R.) which runs along St. Charles to its terminus and then turns northeast to continue up Carrollton. The district also contains a turn-of-the-century barn complex where the cars are housed and serviced.
Portions of Carrollton were first surveyed in 1978 by the architectural firm of Koch and Wilson. This was part of a citywide survey effort conducted within the Community Development Block grant areas for environmental review purposes. The survey produced a breakdown of the buildings according to twenty style/period categories as well as a color coded map. In the summer of 1985 the New Orleans Office of Housing and Community Development funded a re-survey using urban planning students at the University of New Orleans. This second survey enlarged the proposed Carrollton District to about two-thirds of its present size. It also produced a preliminary National Register nomination. In February of 1986 the City of New Orleans officially approached the State Historic Preservation Office and asked that Carrollton be considered for the Register. Following this, the National Register staff made a thorough check of the proposed district, enlarging the boundaries and checking and correcting the University of New Orleans survey on a building-by-building basis. Of course, the area which was added had to be surveyed from scratch.
The University of New Orleans-Historic Preservation Office survey rated each structure according to a system of seven building type categories and eight period/ style categories. The survey produced two color coded maps and a count of the various types and styles. It did not produce a written inventory, but this would have been an impossible task given the fact that the district contains over 5,003 buildings. Moreover, Carrollton is an urban area containing numerous very similar elements. In cases like this, breaking the elements down into distinct categories provides a better description than one could get from a straight inventory. Of course, this method of describing an urban district has been previously approved by the National Park Service, and, in fact, has already been used successfully for six Register districts in Louisiana.
Greek Revival 18 less than 1% (.34)
Italianate 405 8%
Eastlake 154 3%
Bungalow 1953 38%
Colonial Revival 536 10%
Eclectic 323 6%
Plain & other 938 18%
Intrusions 866 17%
Creole cottages 104 2%
Shotguns 2339 45%
Camelbacks 103 2%
Bungalows 884 17%
Side Hall 156 3%
Commercial 365 7%
“Other” 1247 24%
Building types include Creole cottages, shotgun houses, camelback houses, bungalows, side hall plan houses, and commercial buildings. There is also a category known as “other” which includes local landmarks, many of the intrusions, and many two story residences.
1. Creole cottages (104 or 2% of the building stock)
Strictly speaking, Creole cottages are an early nineteenth century phenomenon, but the form was perpetuated until much later, as one can see from the examples in Carrollton. The Creole cottage form denotes a one-and-one-half story gable-ended residence built up to the front property line. Its plan does not use hallways. Most of the district’s cottages are fairly plain, but a few have Italianate details.
2. The Shotgun House (2,339 or 45% of the building stock)
The shotgun is the most conspicuous building type in the district. In the archetype, a shotgun is a narrow one-story dwelling usually without halls. The survey includes within this category variations such as the double shotgun. In Carrollton 60% of the shotguns are double, while 40% are singles. This breakdown is fairly typical for historic neighborhoods in New Orleans.
One of the major attributes of the Carrollton district is its collection of styled (as opposed to plain) shotgun houses. Around 80% of the district’s shotguns feature some fairly obvious architectural style. The earliest style one finds in any abundance is Italianate. These elaborately bracketed shotgun houses feature rusticated board fronts and gables roofs. Most examples date from the 1880s or 90s, somewhat after the Italianate style had gone out of fashion for high style residences.
In the twentieth century one sees vast numbers of shotguns in the Colonial Revival and bungalow styles. Most Colonial Revival shotguns are treated with square or round columns, entablatures, elliptical arched openings, and sometimes frontal pediments. Most of the bungalow style shotguns feature a standard symmetrical front with battered porch piers and articulated structural members such as rafter ends, purling, and angular brackets. Most of the doubles are simply expanded symmetrical versions of this. But there is also a local “hybrid” bungalow style double shotgun which is asymmetrically articulated with an off-center front gable. Presumably this design was intended to imitate the look of a real bungalow.
3. Camelback Houses (103, or 2% of the building stock)
The camelback is a single or double shotgun with a two-level portion over the rear rooms. The second level provides one or two bedrooms. Although it is difficult to generalize, essentially the camelback type denotes a more affluent occupant than does the ordinary shotgun house. The earliest camelbacks seem to have come about when a shotgun was added to an earlier two story structure. It also appears that the process was reversed sometimes and a camelback was attached to an earlier shotgun. The camelback appears in the district with the same popular stylistic traits as the shotgun.
4. Bungalows (884, or 17% of the building stock)
For purposes of this submission, bungalows are defined as single living units one story high, two rooms wide, and two or more rooms deep. Shotgun houses with the familiar bungalow details are listed as shotgun houses. Bungalows are larger and reflect a more affluent occupant. Predominant styles include Colonial Revival, Arts and Crafts (i.e., bungalow) and Mission.
An interesting bungalow subspecies peculiar to the New Orleans area is the so-called “New Orleans Raised Bungalow,” which is basically a single story bungalow raised a full story on a high basement. The principal (upper) floor is usually reached by prominent flights of exterior steps. Generally the lower (basement) story is given over to service and storage space. Overall, 41% of Carrollton’s bungalows are in the “raised” category, something which lends a two story scale to many parts of the district. Despite various popular and academic yarns, the origin of the raised bungalow is obscure. Probably the most likely explanation is that it represents a continuing local preference for raised houses. For the most part raised bungalows appear in the district with the same stylistic traits as ordinary bungalows. The only difference is that because raised bungalows are larger, more prominent houses, they tend to be more elaborately styled.
5. Side Hall Plan Houses (156, or 3% of the building stock)
Until the late 1800s most prosperous American citizens of New Orleans lived in side hall plan houses. Because the side hall went out of fashion in New Orleans in the late nineteenth century, relatively few remain in Carrollton. This category includes both one and two story examples. Styles tend to be limited to Italianate, Eastlake and Colonial Revival.
6. Commercial Buildings (365, or 7% of the building stock)
Of course, many of the district’s intrusions fall into this category, but Carrollton also contains a goodly number of contributing commercial buildings which are a vital element in its historic character. Perhaps half of the older commercial structures follow the domestic model–i.e., outwardly a house but with a corner entrance, a gallery over the sidewalk, and perhaps a few display windows. Most, though not all, of these domestic-looking buildings are one story. Commercial buildings of this ilk tend to be set at street corners, and are distributed throughout the district. The only concentration of historic commercial buildings is along Oak Street, where one finds a two story scale and a fairly standard set of early twentieth century structures with hesitant Mission Revival or Modernistic touches. There are also a few Italianate commercial buildings along Oak. Apartment buildings are also included in the commercial category.
7. The aforementioned “other” category accounts for 1247 buildings, or 24% of the building stock.
One would think that if a system of type categories adequately described a historic district, there would be relatively few buildings in the “other” category. But this is not true of Carrollton. The reason the building count in the “other” category is so high is that the aforementioned State Historic Preservation Office-University of New Orleans survey did not establish a separate category for two story residences. Prior to the survey no one realized that the district contained so many. Sometimes survey results can offer surprises.
In checking and revising the University of New Orleans survey, the National Register staff attempted to break the voluminous “other” category down in a meaningful way. The results are as follows:
1. 25% of the buildings are two story residences in the Arts and Crafts, or bungalow style. Many of these are very large, and some are raised on a high basement in a manner similar to a raised bungalow, thus creating what is in effect a three story house.
2. 15% of the buildings are two story residences in one of the twentieth century eclectic styles–“Tudor,” Mission, Renaissance Revival, etc.
3. 28% of the buildings are residential intrusions.
4. The remaining 32% is a miscellaneous category which includes central hall plan houses (a rarity), Queen Anne Revival Houses, institutional buildings, local landmarks, two story duplex residences where each story is a separate living unit.
Most of the styles identified in the survey are well-known and require little additional comment or explanation. However, the following should be noted:
1. Aside from a few landmarks, the Greek Revival category is limited to plain galleried structures dating from well after the Civil War.
2. With a few exceptions, the Italianate category is limited to late, florid, heavily bracketed examples such as shotgun houses. Side hall plan houses and a few commercial buildings also appear in the style. Virtually all of Carrollton’s Italianate architecture is confined to the southwestern two-thirds of the district.
3. Eastlake styling tends to be limited to the smaller structures in Carrollton, mainly shotguns and side hall plan houses. As with the Italianate, most examples are in the southwestern two-thirds of the district.
4. The Colonial Revival style appears frequently in both large and small houses. Many of the largest examples are transitional from Queen Anne Revival. These have asymmetrical masses with gabled roofs and classically styled porches and galleries.
5. The Gothic Revival and other Downingesque Stick Styles are almost unknown in the district. This is true of the rest of New Orleans as well as the state as a whole. This is a somewhat puzzling phenomenon because the district ”blossomed” in the late nineteenth century, and one would expect to find at least some carryover examples. Explaining this is a major scholarly problem in the study of New Orleans’ patrimony. There is no easy answer, but it probably has something to do with the area’s architectural conservatism.
6. The bungalow style takes in all bungalows and Arts and Crafts houses. On the whole, this group is not markedly different from other houses of this ilk in other parts of the country. The one exception is the “raised bungalow” previously mentioned. The only other comment one could make is that in Carrollton many of the bungalow style houses tend to have more articulated woodwork than one would expect to find in comparable examples in other parts of the state. For example, the double vergeboard is seen quite often, as is the stickwork ornamented gable. In addition, in many cases the battered bungalow columns have fully molded capitals as opposed to mere capital blocks.
7. The term twentieth century eclectic refers to the general body of revival styles which were fashionable in the first decades of this century. Most of the examples in Carrollton are in some sort of evocative Mission, Mediterranean, or Italian style. One sees a great many cement-washed exteriors and colored tile roofs. In almost every case, the eclectic styling is applied to a squarish house in the form of porches, arches and decorative details. There is seldom any attempt at historically derived massing. Perhaps this is due in part to the neighborhood’s tradition of restricted lot lines.
Most of Carrollton’s secondary landmarks are classed in the twentieth century eclectic category. These include churches, large commercial buildings, and major residences. Here again most examples are elephantine styled boxes with little in the way of complex or characteristic massing.
8. The “plain or other” category refers to contributing elements that do not fit into the style categories being used in this submission (Greek Revival, Italianate, Eastlake, twentieth century eclectic, Colonial Revival, and bungalow). Some are buildings with a strong stylistic statement (for example, the Gothic Revival villa described in the landmarks section). The majority, however, are genuinely historic buildings that do not have any particular stylistic details. Buildings of this ilk are common in most New Orleans historic districts and are certainly worthy contributing elements in Carrollton.
Principal landmarks in Carrollton are as follows:
1. Old Jefferson Parish Courthouse, 1855. This stuccoed brick Greek Revival building features a colossal pedimented portico with four fluted Ionic columns. Designed by the noted New Orleans architect Henry Howard, it served as parish courthouse until 1874, when Carrollton was annexed to the City of New Orleans.
2. Rev. John Bliss Warren House, 1344. This colossal columnar galleried house features a slightly projecting portico with the suggestion of a pediment. It is massively styled, and has the look of a grand plantation house, but the scale is a bit small.
3. Nathaniel Wilkinson House, 1850. This two story Downingesque Gothic villa has an X-shaped plan which is entered at the center. Originally its brick walls were stuccoed and scored. It is the district’s only Downingesque Gothic structure and one of only three or four in the entire city of New Orleans.
4. D’Antoni House, 1917. Designed by Edward Sporl, this massive buff brick villa is elaborately articulated in the Prairie Style. There is also a matching garage. Despite the progressive styling, the overall design is symmetrical and not very adventurous.
5. Notre Dame Seminary, 1924. This huge brick building is styled in the manner of a seventeenth century French chateau. The entrance features a somewhat flamboyant build-up of classical and Baroque elements.
6. New Orleans Waterworks, c.1910. This is a complex of ten concrete, industrial type buildings with broad hip roofs, great round arches, and pronounced eaves. The styling is a kind of latter day Italianate mainly reminiscent of the early Italian Renaissance.
In addition to these, there are numerous secondary landmarks in the district. These buildings are of secondary importance in the New Orleans area, but they would stand as landmarks of the first rank in most other communities in Louisiana. Of course, local landmark status is a subjective judgment) so it would be impossible to give an exact number of secondary local landmarks in Carrollton; however, there are thought to be over fifty.
The following is a sampling:
1. 719 Fern Street, c.1880. This humble side hall plan house has a full Mansard roof. It ranks as a secondary landmark because the Second Empire style is so rare in New Orleans. There are three other Second Empire houses in the district; all are of similar quality to this one.
2. Mater Dolorosa Church, 1908. Designed by Theo Bruney under the Beaux Arts influence, this monumental church features a combination of Romanesque and classical elements.
3. Thomas Sully House, 1893. Designed by the noted local architect, Thomas Sully, as his home and office, this large house features a chaste combination of “Queen Anne” and Colonial Revival elements.
4. 7515 St. Charles, c.1910. This house is essentially an enormous ‘”American Foursquare” with historically derived details (in this case Colonial Revival). It derives some extra distinction from its boldly articulated pedimented entrance. This house is typical of many of the district’s lesser landmarks
5. 2903 Carrollton, c.1910. This very large Renaissance Revival residence is ornamented with rounder piers and a curving arcade on the side.
6. House at Carrollton and Sycamore, c.1915. This Arts and Crafts-bungalow style house looks as if it were assembled by combining two or three of the more conventional bungalow style houses in the district. Its most unusual feature is the use of brick and stone for the battered columns.
7. 7433 St. Charles, c.1915. This is a baronial combination of the late Gothic Revival and the Arts and Crafts movement. It is one of very few houses in the district with a park-like setting, albeit a small one.
8. Whitney National Bank, 1920. This intensively articulated square massed neo-classical building was designed by the noted New Orleans architect Emile Weil.
The overwhelming majority of the structures in the district are wood framed houses with some type of wood skin. Since the earliest days there were lumber mills in New Orleans. Southern forests and particularly those in close proximity to New Orleans provided an abundant resource from which to draw. However, it took Northern capitalist in the late nineteenth century to fully develop this industry. The lumber chiefly used in New Orleans was red cypress, yellow pine and long leaf yellow pine. Other types of wood used primarily for interior trims included mahogany, oak, ash, poplar and gum.
Carrollton represents an important collection of buildings from the period c.1840 to 1937. There are certain elements (see Item 8) which give it this superior status, but the district should also be viewed as a tout ensemble of its period. Other 50+ year old elements which do not directly contribute to the district’s superiority are important in their own right because they help establish Carrollton’s identity and credentials as a historic neighborhood. Hence any 50+ year old structure which has not been altered beyond recognition is considered a contributing element for purposes of this application.
The vast majority of the district’s intrusions are either modern houses or older houses which have been significantly modified. The modern houses tend to be single story slab-on-grade, while the contributing elements are usually raised two feet or so. Hence the contributing elements tend to dominate where the two are juxtaposed. Of course, in most cases modified older houses still conform to the basic streetscape character in terms of massing and fenestration pattern. There are a few institutional intrusions, but most of the non-residential intrusions are commercial. Some are apartment buildings; others are shops. There are no skyscrapers; virtually all of Carrollton’s commercial intrusions conform to the district’s one to three story scale. Thus their intrusive effect is entirely local. Moreover, in many cases larger commercial intrusions are masked by mature trees. Overall, the district’s intrusion rate is 17%, which is below normal for a Register district in Louisiana. There is no doubt that the Carrollton district has a continuous historic character which is not significantly marred by the presence of intrusions.
Buildings were rated in the survey according to the period they portray and not the date they were built. Hence earlier buildings which have been significantly modernized are rated as intrusions and counted as part of the district’s overall 17% intrusion rate. [lost older residences have not been significantly modified. Porch enclosures are comparatively few in number. More numerous are changes such as replaced porch columns and substitute siding. In all cases involving such changes, the buildings had to still portray their essential character in order to be considered contributing elements. In most cases this was an easy decision.
Commercial modifications usually do not extend above the first story. In most cases commercial conversion has not extensively marred a building’s historic character. In a few cases it has.
For the record, the following maps are included with this submission: 2 USGS maps one set of style maps (3 sections) one set of type maps (3 sections)
Addendum to Sampling of Secondary Landmarks:
The two cemeteries on Lowerline Street are included as secondary landmarks because each contains a complement of above ground tombs. These are part of Louisiana’s Creole heritage and reflect in a broad sense the state’s continental European origins. Tombs are built in the form of pretentious little buildings, creating what the architect Benjamin Latrobe termed “cities of the dead.” Examples in Carrollton are mainly late nineteenth-early twentieth century and show the continuing Creole tradition. Cemeteries of this kind are not found in other parts of the country.
Specific dates c.1840-1937
Statement of Significance (in one paragraph)
The Carrollton Historic District is architecturally significant within the context of the southern United States because of its sheer size, and more importantly, its unusually fine collection of shotguns. It is architecturally significant on the state level because of the quality of its landmarks and twentieth century eclectic buildings. Finally, it is distinguished on the local level because of its collection of New Orleans raised bungalows.
The Carrollton district is impressive for its sheer magnitude as a cultural resource. It is a discrete geographical area of over 5,000 buildings with an intrusion rate of only 17%. There are relatively few places in the South where one could find a nineteenth-early twentieth century townscape of this size and intactness.
Carrollton shares with other New Orleans historic districts a unique collection of shotgun houses. Shotguns are found in vast numbers across the South, but virtually all collections consist mainly of plain humble structures with little, and in most cases, no architectural treatment. New Orleans and vicinity is the only place where one finds shotguns with a high degree of architectural styling. Carrollton contains 2,442 structures in the shotgun house tradition, which accounts for some 47% of its overall building stock. Most of these (about 80%) feature some sort of recognizable architectural style, and many are fairly elaborately styled. Styles run the gamut from Italianate, to Eastlake, to Colonial Revival, to bungalow, to Mission. This is in sharp contrast to most other collections across the South. Collectively they represent a unique architectural flowering that in many ways makes a larger contribution to the character of “old New Orleans” than the better known Creole tradition.
Carrollton’s collection of twentieth century eclectic buildings is easily superior to most in Louisiana. Fifty-five percent of the examples are at least two stories, which is unusual even in the most pretentious early twentieth century neighborhoods in the state. Typically one finds a handful of two story eclectic landmarks in a sea of fairly ordinary cottages and bungalows. In addition, many of Carrollton’s eclectic buildings are large and imposing with considerable ornamentation. As was mentioned in Item 7, there are many houses that are second-rate in Carrollton that would be first-rate almost anywhere else in the state.
Although Carrollton is mainly significant as an overall collection of historic buildings, it also derives importance from its individual landmarks. (See landmark section of Item 7.) For example, there are thought to be only about a dozen examples of the Second Empire style in all of Louisiana; four of them are in Carrollton. In addition, Carrollton contains the finest (and almost the only) example of the Downingesque residential Gothic Revival in New Orleans. The district also contains two Greek Revival landmarks each of which would stand as the finest example of the style in numerous rural parishes in the state. Finally, the district enjoys a measure of local distinction because of its raised bungalow collection. Carrollton contains 364 examples, which accounts for some 7% of the building stock. As was mentioned in Item 7, raised bungalows are an archetype unique to the New Orleans area. Carrollton’s collection is one of the city’s largest.
Surveys described in Item 7.
Landmarks of New Orleans. Compiled by Leonard V. Huber. Published by Louisiana Landmarks
Society and Orleans Parish Landmarks Commission, May 1984.
Research report prepared by University of New Orleans survey team. On file in State Historic
Swanson, Betsy. Historic Jefferson Parish. Gretna, Louisiana: Pelican Publishing Company, 1975.