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The French Quarter Home of General L. Kemper and Leila Williams

In early May, I spent a week in Louisiana and Mississippi touring beautiful historic homes with my friend, Linda. Almost all of those homes allowed photography, except for two. One home Linda and I toured was the home of General L. Kemper and Leila Williams, located at 712 Toulouse Street in the heart of the French Quarter.

The Williamses’ historic 1889, 2-story townhouse is actually hidden from street view. The Williamses called it the “Hidden House.” It’s tucked back behind the Merieult House (shown below) located at 533 Royal Street. There’s something kind of neat and romantic about living in a hidden home.

Merieult House

 

This is the other photo I shared in yesterday’s post showing the wonderful courtyard that’s hidden back behind Merieult House. Hard to believe, just over a month ago I was standing in this courtyard!

See the townhouse straight ahead–that’s the Williamses’ home. Further down in this post, you’ll get a view of the courtyard as if you were standing on the upstairs balcony where the Williamses would have stood when looking out into the courtyard.

General Kemper and Leila Williams lived here from 1946 to 1963 and gave their home a much-needed restoration/renovation in the 1940’s. This whole complex was in such bad shape back then, there was talk of tearing it down. The Williamses bought Merieult House too and preserved both it and their townhouse for future generations to enjoy. They realized the importance of preserving the French Quarter and were active philanthropists donating their time and money to preserver many building in the area.  They also gave generously to other organizations and charities in the in the community.

Courtyard Outside Kemper & Leila Williamses' Home

 

Stepping into the Williamses’ home is like being transported to another era. It’s time-travel for real! The Williamses lived here from 1946-1963 and  the home today is just as the Williamses left it. As mentioned yesterday, their home is the only French Quarter home that’s open to the public and still has all its original furnishings! It’s filled with antiques and objets d’art collected by the Williamses during their travels all over the world.

When the Williamses entertained, something they did frequently, their guests would first be brought into the drawing-room. I guess a drawing-room is what we call a formal living room. I think drawing-room sounds so much better. Who knows, maybe “formal” living rooms would not have fallen out of favor here as much if we had been calling them “drawing” rooms all this time. ;) What do you think? Should we start a new trend?

Look at those French doors!!! I covet those gorgeous doors and the beautiful Palladian windows overhead. Covet, I tell you! Beautiful!

Drawing Room in Kemper and Leila Williams New Orleans Home

 

I shared the dining room yesterday for Tablescape Thursday. You can see a bit more of this room in that post here: A Formal Dinner Party In The French Quarter  Before we leave the dining room, take a look at the seat of the dining room chairs. Such beautiful detail!

One thing I noticed about this home is it has a quiet elegance about it. At first it can seem a little plain or understated but when you look closer, there are so many beautiful, rich details. They are like hidden gems just waiting for the discerning eye to find them.

General L. Kemper & Leila Williams House Mueseum Dining Room, New Orleans_wm

 

The kitchen blew me away! Really, touring this beautiful home is such an experience because it’s so beautifully preserved. How do you like the refrigerator. Bet it was state of the art in the 1950’s-60’s. This may have been one of the first ever side-by-side refrigerators. :)

Vintage Kitchen in Kemper and Leila Williams Home, New Orleans

 

I was in awe of all the cabinetry. I think this just might hold my dish collection! ;)

Kitchen in Kemper and Leila Williams New Orleans Home

 

 

How do you like the stove? It appears to have three ovens! I’m sure all three were needed, along with the 8 burners on top, when they were having dinner parties for twelve.

I goofed and resized this picture of their stove down without saving the original, so, unfortunately I can’t enlarge it to read the brand name. Doesn’t anyone recognize it?

Vintage Stove in Kemper and Leila Williams Home, New Orleans

 

This butler’s pantry was located right off of the kitchen. With all the entertaining the Williamses did, I bet this area saw frequent use.

Silver Serving Pieces

 

Here’s just a small sample of some of the beautiful dishware they would have used for entertaining.

Antique China

 

This platter rack was ahead of its time. I’ve seen these in today’s fancy kitchens, usually on the end of a large island but sometimes on a wall, too. This is definitely a DIY rack that could be added pretty easily to a kitchen today, if you have a need for something like this. It also makes for a beautiful display, a way to enjoy your favorite platters as art for your walls.

Tray Rack

 

Loved this phone and its cute shelf!  One ringy dingy, Two ringy dingy. (If that makes no sense, go  HERE.)

What do you suppose that box is up above? I should have looked closer at it while on the tour. I think it was about this time the docent asked me why I was taking so many pictures. lol At one point she actually asked me if I was “casing the joint.” No kidding! See what I do for you! ;)

Okay, are you ready to see my most favorite room in the entire home. I am in love with the next room!

Telephone Shelf

 

The General’s library! Just look at this cozy, beautiful room! This is where the men would retire to smoke and talk “men stuff” after dinner when the Williamses entertained.

General L. Kemper Williams Library

 

There’s the General himself, looking very dapper in uniform. The paneling in this room was really pretty in person.

Beautiful Home Library of General L. Kemper Williams_wm

 

This is more accurate of the color of the paneling. I loved seeing the fabrics they used throughout the home. They really hearken back to another time, although they would be lovely in any home today.

General L. Kemper Williams Library

 

Here’s a better view of the sofa fabric. I wonder if this is an old Schumacher fabric…anyone recognize it? I love the colors!

Sofa in General L. Kemper Williams Library

 

We see it again here on the wingback chair. Isn’t it beautiful?  There’s that wonderful old library ladder again.

Chair in General Kemper Williams Library Study

 

A small desk in the library…

General Kemper Williamses' Home Library

 

A beautiful bed in one of the bedrooms. If I’m remembering correctly, the Williamses had separate bedrooms, something that was pretty common back then.

Bedroom in Williams Home in New Orleans

 

An antique daybed…notice the beautiful chest against the wall. I worry about those antique side-tables sitting in the window. Seems like the sun would fade and dry them out, maybe even cracking the wood with time.

Daybed in Williams Home in New Orleans

 

Gorgeous secretary! We saw so many beautiful antiques and porcelain pieces, many I’m sure collected on their trips abroad. Mrs. Williams also purchased many of the antiques in her home from local antique shops.

Antique Secretary in Leila and Kemper Williams Home, New Orleans

 

I was enamoured with the dressing area off of the bathroom. The walls were upholstered with fabric. Is this not exquisite?

Elegant 1950's Bathroom in Williams New Orleans Home

 

A close-up of the fabric walls.

Fabric on Walls in 1950's Bathroom, Williams New Orleans Home

 

Another dressing area…have you ever seen lampshades like those? The shape reminds me of Napoleon Bonaparte’s hat.

Leila Williams Dressing Table

 

This fabric was in another room with padded/upholstered walls.  I think it was another bath…having trouble remembering now.

Beautiful Fabric Walls in Historic Williams New Orleans Home

 

A close-up… Can you tell I was captivated by all the fabrics…just loved them!

Beautiful Fabric on Walls in Historic Williams New Orleans Home

 

When the Williamses entertained, after dinner the men would retire to the General’s library as mentioned earlier. The women would come here to the sitting room to relax and play games of pinochle or mahjong.

Sitting Room in Kemper and Leila Williams New Orleans Home

 

This room made me think of the great designers, Colefax and Fowler and Sister Parish. How does it feel to step back in time, to relive the days of yesteryear? I loved this room…a beautiful example of understated elegance.

Sitting Room in Kemper and Leila Williams New Orleans Home

 

If you have a long, narrow living room in your home, this room may give you some ideas for furniture placement.

Sitting Room in Kemper and Leila Williams New Orleans Home 4_wm

 

A close-up of the fabric…

Beautiful Upholstery Fabric in Leila and Kemper Williams New Orleans Home

 

Things have changed a bit haven’t they? Notice the turntable underneath the radio.

1950's Radio and Record Player in Historic Williams New Orleans Home

 

One side says “Telev” and the other side says “Phono.” Have no idea what those meant but something tells me Pandora wasn’t coming out of here.

1950's Radio, Williams Home in New Orleans

 

Oh, I promised you a view of the courtyard from the balcony. Here’s what the Williamses would have seen when looking out into the courtyard. So glad they preserved this lovely piece of history and their hidden house.

Kemper & Leila Williams Townhouse Courtyard

 

If you enjoyed this tour, sign up to have free email updates delivered to your inbox via the sign-up box below. I’ll be sharing more home tours from the area over the next few weeks as I have time to go through all the pictures I took.

Happy Friday, dear Friends!




Comments

  1. My grandmother had a stove that was smaller but very similar in design and it was a Tapan. Gorgeous photos!

  2. Linda Page says:

    I think the stove is either Tapan or Roper. It is hard to read. I need to look at my pics and see if I have one of the stove. Can’t remember if I took one. Your pictures are wonderful. This house was one that you would feel comfortable just sitting down and staying for a visit.

  3. Stove looks like a 1949 Roper Town and Country stove.

    • I think you’re right because when I tried to enlarge the picture (after resizing it down) I thought it said “Town and Country” just above the center oven. It does look like Roper across the top though now that I know what it says. Thanks, Larry!

  4. Loved loved the kitchen most of all.Thanks for another wonderful tour.Hooray all your posts are now arriving not just some.

  5. Deborah says:

    Stove is a Tapan. I’ve seen one similar. They were top of the line stoves at one time.

  6. We were probably there the same time, Susan! (May 4-7). Love New Orleans and it’s beautiful homes. How do you arrange a tour for this house? I would love to see it next time we visit NOLA.

    • We were! I was there from May 3rd through the 9th and let me tell ya, that is a long drive from Atlanta Georgia and back! Thank goodness for Audible books and my cell phone! We just walked right up, didn’t make reservations or anything. They have tours going all throughout the day since it’s a “house museum” and part of the The Historic New Orleans Collection.

  7. I believe it is a Tapan

  8. Diane Westbrook says:

    I was thinking it might be a Roper stove. The dials that say telev and phono must have been for a television and the phonograph..
    It is a lovely home and it is such a treat to see it just as it was back in the 40’s and 50’s!

  9. I think the stove may be an Amana. I think the box was to buzz the wait staff, shows numbers, they might designate who wants them or where.
    I am curious about the stand next to the pretty secretary. It has a curved top. I’m wondering if it was a newspaper stand.

    • Ann, I have seen one of those before, I think on this trip in another house and they told us what it was for, but I’m drawing a blank. If I can remember, I’ll come back and leave another comment. Linda may be able to remember. I remember being surprised when I heard what it was for, nothing I would have guessed.

    • Linda Page says:

      Ann, this is a cheese and bread tray. It lifts off the stand and has wheels so it can roll from guest to guest on to of the table. It held a round of cheese and a loaf of bread. Our docent asked if we knew what it was and I told her. She said that I was first person who knew what it was. Most people think it holds newspapers.

    • Okay, Linda remembered! She said, “It is a cheese and bread holder that was rolled around the table for guests to cut pieces of cheese from a cheese round and bread from the loaf. It sits on the stand when not in use.”

  10. I don’t know what brand the stove is, but as Susan Branch’s sister says, it is definitely a two-butt kitchen. Two people could cook at that stove.

  11. I am in love with that fabric used in the sitting room. Why of why isn’t it always around?!

  12. I LOVE the library, and that kitchen is wonderful. Who wouldn’t love to have appliances like those! I wonder though – being in the humid, hot environment of New Orleans, how did they keep all that fabric from molding? Especially the fabric on the walls.
    Thanks for sharing this!

  13. Vicki Daugherty says:

    Oh Susan, this is soooo lovely, without being over done…..the usual indication of “old money”. And speaking of old, did you ever subscribe to Colonial Homes Magazines, back in the day? It was my favorite and these pictures remind me of homes featured in it…..so classy. And being an old soul at heart, I could easily slip into this style and be perfectly happy. What a treat to tour. Vicki in Louisville KY

  14. Charlotte says:

    I am pretty sure the box above the phone is attached to bell pulls in each room. That is how the Maid knew which room she was needed in. I am not sure what the curved wooden thing is next to the secretary.

  15. Oh, those dining room chairs!!! Heart be still!!! What a lovely, enchanting home…not a McMansion at all!! Thanks for ALL those photos!! :) franki

  16. The box above the telephone might be a call box for servants. The owner would pull a rope or cord and it would ring in the servant area. The numbers would indicate which room. Saw something similar in an old Victorian mansion.

  17. Northshoremimi says:

    Oh my, lovely photos of your trip. I grew up in the suburbs of New Orleans, Metairie. I live north of the lake now in Mandeville. I’ve been to this home a very lovely example of life there. My grandparents had homes in New Orleans , their stoves were similar called “chambers” doesn’t appear to have the lettering. They were huge gas stoves with burners and a well to the right, hence the chambers name. Rice was steamed in the chambers, for red beans etc. my mom still has the pots that were four triangular shaped that fit into the “chamber” if you can image.
    Like a pie cut into four. Thanks for showcasing our gorgeous French Quarter. You will also have to come North of the lake to explore where New Orleanians spent their Summers. Email me directly I would love to chat. B

    • Linda Page says:

      I would love to know more about the area where you live as I usually make 2-3 trips to the River Road plantations and New Orleans every year from East Texas. Email is tx2stamp@yahoo.com.

    • Hi Northshoremimi,
      I live in Covington which is in your backyard. My husband & I just moved here two years ago. I would love to chat with you sometime and learn all about this area. Sounds like you have a wealth of info to share. My email is: Onlyonejane@gmail.com

  18. I’ve been getting all followup comments sent to my email ,I just wanted to unsubscribe to those but It looked like to all your posts.Just want your posts please.

    • Margie, check on the email that you are getting with each comment and see if there’s a link that says something like “manage your subscriptions.” If you don’t see a link in the email, check underneath your original comment and you may see a link there. I think what happened is you checked the box for “Notify me of follow up comments by email” and unfortunately that notifies you of all the ones left on the post…annoying I know. I bet there’s a link on one of the emails you got that will take you to where you can unsubscribe to the comments.

    • Margie, I think I may have found a way to turn it off for you receiving them. I’ve never done that but I think I found a way to do it. Let me know if it works.

  19. Susan, just to let you know, I stopped receiving your email reminders April 14, then I started receiving them on May 26 and have been receiving email updates since then. Thanks for posting so many pictures of this great house. I think my favourite room is the sitting room. It’s very pretty. I also love all the cupboards in the kitchen.

  20. OMG! The only thing I can say is, what a reflection this is on how gracefully people used to live. Some of the “modern conveniences” must be from the forties or earlier. BTW, Susan, I have always subscribed to your blog via email. I use Mozilla Firefox as my browser and their email system is Thunderbird. I love it and have received your blog posts without fail.

  21. The stove is either a Tapan or a Roper……..my mom had a smaller Roper with two ovens and a separate broiler and drawer for pots and pans. Love the old time elegance of all the rooms, love the vanities and butler’s pantry……..

  22. Loved the library and also, there is very interesting nest of tables. Of course, I spotted a transom! :)

  23. The lamp shades are Venetian.

  24. Very cool kitchen – I want a plate rack! (and a dish closet). I think that contraption over the phone is a call box for the in-house intercom. It probably showed which room was wanting service.

  25. Melissa Blaseck says:

    Hi Susan:

    I know I don’t comment very often, but I enjoy your emails every day. I can’t wait to look at them before I go to bed. This tour of the General’s French Quarters was truly a treat. Thanks for getting the close-ups of the wall coverings, furniture fabrics and gorgeous dish display. What a treat!!! That home was amazing. Thanks for taking that tour. My husband and I do not travel that much due to our animals (horse and 3 dogs), so I really appreciate this tour.

    Thanks again.

    • Thanks so much, Melissa! I always love seeing the close-up details of rooms so really wanted to share those as much as I could. I know it’s hard to travel when you furbabies…love this thing called the internet. :) We can go so many places without ever leaving home.

  26. Sandi Lee says:

    Love those homes. Thank you for showing them to us. The stove may be a Tappan-they were popular back then,

  27. Hi Susan,

    I loved your tour of this home! I live on the north side of Lake Pontchairtrain in Covington. We are straight across the lake from New Orleans and I have never been over to visit all the historic homes. I guess it’s time to go! I would love to speak with your other reader “Northshoremimi” who said she lives in Mandeville. Sounds like she has a lot of info on the area for someone like me who just moved here a couple years ago. Again, thanks for sharing all your lovely pictures!

  28. Hi Susan,

    I, too, have saved my Colonial Homes magazines from the 90s until they ceased publication. Have any of the historic homes/old inns in the magazines inspired you to tour them? These wonderful magazines were my trip to Dreamland, from ideas on American colonial design, the wonderful recipes of the restaurants/old hisorical inns, to the history of the area/homes visited. That’s why your blog caught my eye…you and Colonial Homes Magazines have so much in common. It’s as if you are a continuation of the magazine, in all its glory, for the 21st century. Please, don’t change a thing. I love your style!

    • Aww, thanks Esther! I loved that magazine too, I know it must have subtly influenced some of the choices I made for my home. I always loved Traditional Home magazine, too…still have all those old issues. :) I’ve been to Colonial Williamsburg a few times over the years and I’m always going on historic home tours in surrounding areas, but not sure if I’ve toured any of those mentioned in the Colonial Homes magazines. You may enjoy checking out the links on this page at BNOTP: http://betweennapsontheporch.net/historic-homes/ That link will take you to many of the historic home tours I’ve posted and several of those I was able to tour in person. There are two pages of links so once you go to that link, scroll to the bottom to access the second page. When I toured Biltmore Estate, I stayed in a beautiful old inn and posted some pics of it here: http://betweennapsontheporch.net/the-beaufort-house-in-asheville/
      Thanks again for your kind words…appreciate those so much!
      XO

  29. Marilyn in Mt. Vernon, VA says:

    LOVE your tours, Susan — and the more photos, the better. Thanks for your posts, always just wonderful.

  30. Thanks for the beautiful tour Susan…I love touring grand old homes in these charming towns like New Orleans….and that library is my favorite too!!!…I have been getting your posts in my email just fine now…so a very happy camper!

    • Shirley, thanks so much for letting me know…so glad to hear that! Did that just start when I switched away from Feedburner or were they coming consistently then, too?

  31. cindy laduke says:

    its a roper

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