Welcome to the 301st Tablescape Thursday!
When I was in New Orleans the early part of May, one of the homes I toured with my friend, Linda, was the home of Kemper and Leila Williams. Their home, located in the French Quarter at 712 Toulouse Street is actually behind another home, the Merieult House at 533 Royal Street. The Merieult House (shown below) serves as the entrance to several buildings, including a pretty courtyard.
(Picture above and below were found here: The Historic New Orleans Collection)
The courtyard is visible when looking out the windows of the Williamses’ home.
Once we entered into the Merieult House and were taken further back in to tour the Williamses’ home, I was lost. It’s so different in New Orleans the way homes are behind other homes.
Entering the previous home of Kemper and Leila Williams is truly like traveling back in a time machine. The Williamses moved into their home in 1946 and they lived there until 1963. Their home is the only French Quarter home that’s open to the public and still has its original furnishings.
Today I’m taking you into the dining room. I couldn’t actually walk into the room since they had it roped off but I think you can see a fair amount of the table in the following pictures.
The Williamses were known for their lavish dinner parties. Though Leila Williams was quiet and reserved, she loved to entertain and host dinner parties. The dinner parties usually called for formal attire with the ladies wearing evening gowns and the men dressed in dinner jackets.
Upon arriving, guests would be taken to the drawing-room for cocktails which usually consisted of a couple of martinis, manhattans or old-fashioneds. After cocktails, the guests would be seated for dinner at 7:00.
Leila Williams really loved preparing for her dinner parties and put a lot of thought into the linens, china, crystal and china she would be using. She had an extensive collection of beautiful antique china, collected over the years from local antique shops and on trips abroad.
The table would be set with antique Italian linen runners and napkins, crystal stemware by Baccarat and Sinclaire and elegant English and French porcelain. You would never see this today and this had me imagining the days of “Mad Men” but to make sure her guests felt completely pampered and at home, Leila would place matches and ashtrays, along with small glasses filled with cigarettes, on the table between each of the guests.
Do you recognize the china? I don’t but it is beautiful!
You can see some of the Williamses’ antique china displayed in the china cabinet here in the dining room.
For the table itself, Leila Williams would normally have a centerpiece consisting of fresh-cut flowers in an oriental urn along with pretty tapered candles. The room doesn’t have a chandelier so the candles would have been the main source of light. That must have so beautiful to see and experience!
Wouldn’t it be fun to travel back in time and be a fly on the wall for one night to experience one of the Williamses’ lavish dinner parties.
Just outside the dining room was a display of some of the beautiful silver pieces belonging to and used by the Williamses back in the day.
I can’t wait to take you on a tour of the rest of this beautiful home. It truly is a time capsule and it feels like the Williamses have just left for a few minutes and will return at any moment. Hope you’re enjoying seeing a bit of New Orleans with me!
You’ll find several other tours of homes in Louisiana and Mississippi here: Tour the Historic Homes of Louisiana and Mississippi.
Looking forward to all the beautiful tables posted for this week’s Tablescape Thursday!
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