Tour The Studio Apartment Where Frances Parkinson Keyes Wrote Her Novels

Yesterday we toured the Beauregard-Keyes home, the home American author Frances Parkinson Keyes purchased and restored with the help of architect, Sam Wilson. (To see a full tour of this home, check out yesterday’s post here: Tour The Beauregard-Keyes Home )

Beauregard Keyes Home, Louisiana

 

During the restoration process, Mrs. Keyes lived in a little studio apartment on the property behind the home.

Beauregard Keyes House & Garden Museum

 

I was so surprised when the guide told us she preferred living there and continued even after the restoration of the main house was complete. Maybe the home was open for tours back then, too which would have made it difficult for her to concentrate on her writing.

Frances Parkinson Keyes in 1921

 

This tour was really two home tours in one because after we finished touring the main home I shared yesterday, we ended up in the back courtyard area leading to Frances Keyes’ studio. If I’m remembering correctly, I think we entered the studio through the partially opened double doors seen in the photo below.

It’s hard for me to remember now because I was a little confused at the time why she owned this big, beautiful home but we were being shown where she worked and slept out back. Ummm, I just couldn’t quite grasp it until we were actually inside.

The section jutting out to the left is currently a small gift store for the Beauregard-Keyes House and Museum.

Courtyard of Frances Parkinson Keyes Cottage Studio

 

When we entered into the studio, the very first thing we saw was this–a beautiful old doll house! Mrs. Keyes had a wonderful antique doll collection so it makes sense she would love dollhouses, too.

I wanted so badly to linger behind and look over every single nook and cranny of this doll house, but the guide barely mentioned it in passing and then ushered us on into the rest of the studio. I hung back anyway and snagged a few pics to share with you.

Antique Dollhouse in Frances Parkinson Keyes Studio

 

These pics were taken in a mad rush but hopefully if you love dollhouses as much as I do, you’ll get a little idea of how wonderful this one is.

Antique Dollhouse in Frances Parkinson Keyes Studio

 

A little closer view…

Antique Dollhouse in Frances Parkinson Keyes Studio

 

This picture came out a bit blurry (poor lighting and my rushed photography) but the little room is still wonderful isn’t it?

Antique Dollhouse in Frances Parkinson Keyes Studio

 

I didn’t touch the house so these were the only pictures I could get looking in through the areas that were already open for viewing. Looks like the little dollhouse could use some dusting, doesn’t it?

Antique Dollhouse in Frances Parkinson Keyes Studio

 

I reluctantly left the dollhouse to join the group. Here’s a view looking down the length of the studio apartment. It was kind of long and narrow, reminded me of a shotgun house. To get your bearings, you can see the dollhouse off in the distance in the last room. This is where Mrs. Keyes lived, slept and worked in her later years.

Frances Parkinson Keyes Cottage Studio

 

Beautiful bed…

Frances Parkinson Keyes's Bed

 

Mrs. Keyes’  bookshelves, covered with photos of family and friends.

Bookshelves in Frances Parkinson Keyes Studio

 

A table nearby displayed some of her books. I purchased Steamboat Gothic after returning home because the cover features San Francisco Plantation, one of the homes we toured while there. I still haven’t taken time to read it…have to do that soon.

Frances Parkinson Keyes Books In Her Cottage Studio

 

I was fascinated by Frances Parkinson Keyes’  desk. Love, love, love that lamp!

Frances Parkinson Keyes Desk In Her Studio

 

I think back during the time when she was writing her books, writers still wrote their books out by hand, perhaps typing them out later. Does anyone know? I think some writers still do that today, write them out initially by hand.

Frances Parkinson Keyes Desk Where She Wrote

 

This manuscript was laying open here on her desk.

Frances Parkinson Keyes's Manuscript

 

Here’s a close up in case you want to try reading a little of it. I’m not sure why it has a big X on it. I used to do that when typing up term papers and reports for school. After I had typed a page, I would often put a big X on it so I could remember that one was done. Do you think that’s why this has an X on it?

Frances Parkinson Keyes's Journal

 

We also saw a display of the large collection of porcelain veilleuses Frances Keyes collected. A veilleuse was a kind of teapot that could be used to keep tea or milk warm using a small votive light. They were often used around bedtime and thus made a nice nightlight, too. Veilleuses are also used and mentioned a fair amount in Mrs. Keyes’ novels.

Frances Parkinson Keyes Porcelain Veilleuses Collection

 

Outside the home, we walked through the beautiful corner garden Mrs. Keyes had restored. The original garden fell into complete disrepair and was eventually bulldozed to build a macaroni factory. Can you believe that?!

After Mrs. Keyes purchased the home, the factory was torn down and the bricks from the factory were used to rebuild the walls of the garden. The design of the current garden was based on the original plans of Madame Merle, the wife of the second owner of the home.

Beauregard-Keyes Formal Garden 5

 

Beauregard-Keyes Formal Garden

 

Love this view looking back toward the side of the Beauregard-Keyes home. (Photo below from Beauregard-Keyes website.)

Beauregard Keyes Garden, New Orleans

 

Hope you enjoyed this tour of the studio apartment where author, Frances Parkinson Keyes wrote so many of her novels. To tour any of the other historic New Orleans and Louisiana homes I’ve featured from my trip to the area, click anywhere on the collage picture below and it will open to the category page where you can access each of those posts.

Louisiana Historic Homes

 




Comments

  1. What a perfectly delightful little home for this lady! I could live there! Well, I’d have to leave my family behind, I guess! It’s so much fun to see photos of old places and spot something that I have in my own house. This time, it was the desk lamp — mine is very similar. I also have a veilleuse, but my son accidentally put the bottom part of it (which had gotten separated from the top) into a bag for Goodwill. Oh well! Thanks for sharing!

  2. What a perfectly delightful little home for this lady! I could live there! Well, I’d have to leave my family behind, I guess! It’s so much fun to see photos of old places and spot something that I have in my own house. This time, it was the desk lamp — mine is very similar. I also have a veilleuse, but my son accidentally put the bottom part of it (which had gotten separated from the top) into a bag for Goodwill. Oh well! I love the old dollhouse. My grown daughter has been working on one for the past several summers. and it’s been so much fun! Thanks for sharing!

  3. pam ~ crumpety cottage says:

    Susan, I have never been to New Orleans and I am fascinated by their style of housing which fronts the street, like a commercial building – with no lawn, but which all seem to have gorgeous and expansive ‘courtyards’ at the back of the property. Very interesting from a design stand point.

    Her house seems to be horse – shoe shaped, creating the center courtyard. Was this typical of the homes you visited there? I had noted yesterday that from the old street view picture, the houses all seem so crammed together – just a couple of feet separating them on the sides; yet you posted a picture of a side view of her house. Was one of the neighboring houses torn down?

    That dollhouse is incredible! Thanks to you I know it has a Manse style roof. ;) I love the exterior and the ‘antique’ bedroom furniture, lol.

    Even though her living quarters were considered a studio apartment, the area is quite roomy and sufficient for one person. I wonder if Mr. Keyes ever shared the house with her and maybe then she lived in the larger home. Perhaps it just felt too big for her, on her own.

    I’ve never heard the term veilleuse before, but it’s interesting that they’ve come back into fashion. I like the idea of a bit of light by the bed at night.

    When I first noticed the big X on her paper I thought perhaps that was a segment she intended to delete or move. I’m not surprised to hear what you suggested though, and that would certainly make sense as well.

    Now I’m interested in learning more about her writings. Great tour. Thanks, Susan.

    • I know, it really is different. A lot of houses in the historic part of Charleston and Savannah are like that, too. I’m not sure about the horse shoe shape. We only visited a couple of homes in the French Quarter and they both had courtyards. I’m not sure if a house was there originally but the second owners are the ones who made that side area a garden, then later apparently a factory was built there, then it was torn down to create a garden again.
      Thanks, Pam! If you find out anything, let me know. Always love learning more about these wonderful old houses.

  4. Linda Page says:

    It still amazes me that Mrs. Keyes chose to restore the main house but kept smaller for herself. I can’t remember for sure but I think she did use the main house for entertaining on certain occassions. I do like her quarters though because it offers a wonderful insight into Mrs. Keyes as a writer and lover of all things old. I’m so glad we toured all of these houses together because seeing these places through your eyes (and pictures) gives me a different perspective of the houses.

  5. Marilyn in Mt. Vernon, VA says:

    How perfectly delightful, Susan. You take us on such great “field trips.” Always enlightening and interesting, always beautiful. What a wonderful blog friend you are! Thank you.

  6. Susan,
    Lovely home! I noticed a pair of old crutches (not the current kind) in the studio between her bed and the bathroom. Perhaps she had difficulty getting around well and the smaller studio was easier to navigate. When you have physical limitations a smaller area feels less daunting and it allows you to feel more in control of you surroundings. I have seen this with some of my patients in the past. They often squirrel up in a portion of their huge homes when they can not go upstairs etc.

    Blessings

  7. Delightful!

    I absolutely adore that dollhouse too! They need to clean it up, put it on a large custom-made swivel and enclose it in heavy clear plastic to keep it clean and “displayed.” I went to a dollhouse museum once and that’s what they did, was awesome and very clean then.

  8. Thank you for your response to my question about the postcards. I actually found the blog where you had listed several we could read. I am looking forward to reading the new ones.

    • Gail, what post was that? I don’t even remember it. Maybe there’s a way to access those old ones again after all.

      • On August 3rd you blogged that you were going to start postcards from the porch again and invited readers to subscribe. I did and with the confirmation it listed a few back issues that could be read so you would know what it would be like. I found it in my inbox, have read some, liked them and wanted to read more. They were interesting and I am looking forward to reading the new blogs.

  9. Oh, I love this home. Especially the dollhouse. Several years ago, my sister and I built and decorated a Victorian Dollhouse. It was great fun. We ended up giving it to our friend for a little girl that she wanted to adopt. Unfortunately, she didn’t get the little girl but she got a fabulous boy, whom we all adore and couldn’t live without him . He’s 15 now, hard to believe but, we love him even more.

  10. Jennifer Roberts says:

    Susan,
    When I saw the house yesterday I thought it looked so familiar. I attended a wedding in New Orleans two years ago at a church across the street from this house. After the wedding we were lead to this house to tour and were served drinks while the wedding party was taking pictures. Then all 200 of us came out the front doors, down the steps to begin a second line parade complete with a brass band to the reception location. I knew the house was beautiful but because is was so full of people I did not get to spend the time looking at everything. Thank you for posting these pictures and allowing me to take my time and enjoy this beautiful home!!

    • How cool is that! Sounds like an amazing wedding and a lovely experience! What a fabulouse way to celebrate such a special time in life. I love the brass band idea! I bet no one who attended that wedding will ever forget that day. :)

  11. I was so thrilled to see this delightful post! I have every novel Mrs. Keyes ever wrote and almost all her nonfiction, plus her cookbook. It is the homes in her novels that fascinate me and she has written often in her nonfiction about her own homes. At one time she owned three: the one in New Orleans, one in Virginia called, if I recall Tradition, and the one in New Hampshire where her husband was governor and then Senator. She was an amazing woman, brilliant and world traveler, often under trying circumstances.

    Seeing the pictures of her New Orleans home is such a treat for me, visualizing her working there. And yes, she wrote in longhand and a secretary transcribed them. It seemed that these secretaries mostly lived in the houses and were good friends who were needed companions as Mrs. Keyes’ health worsened as she grew older and more infirm. I always thought that she really must have been a nice woman to inspire such loyalty for years.

    If anyone wants delicious homemaking details her novels are full of them. Of course, these books are a product of their times, which is to be expected.

    Thank you so much for visiting the Beauregard-Keyes home for me!
    Dewena

    • Dewena, you’ve really made me want to read the one book of her’s that I have, Steamboat Gothic. I didn’t realize she owner so many homes. I did read somewhere about her husband being a Governor and Senator. Thanks for the info about her writing process, I love those little details!

  12. Susan I loved seeing this home that you recently toured as I have read the life of General Beauregards life and how at the time of the War of Aggression (aka civil war) this territory didnot consider themselves as Americans and the General parents didnot wish him to go to war. He lived here after the war.
    Mrs. Keyes history is also very interesting. She became a CAtholic in later life and especially profound to her was her trip to Quebec and visiting St. Anne de Beaupres just outside Quebec City. She had a great love for Jesus’s grandmother and wrote about her. I have most of her books and novels. Starting my collection of her books when hardly anyone knew who she was.
    I also was collecting at the sametime all the books of Taylor Caldwell.

    Thank you again for showing us this home and telling us a little more about the author. I was so thrilled as I knew she wrote a good many of her novels in this house but had never seen it before.
    With a joyful heart,

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