Sunday, May 31, 2009

Longue Vue House and Gardens

During last weekend’s trip to New Orleans, we had the opportunity to spend a few hours touring Longue Vue, the home and garden of Edgar and Edith Stern. It’s been open to the public since 1980, just before Mrs. Stern’s death.

It is an extraordinary home, largely because the mansion was built AFTER the gardens were planned and mostly installed. As a result, every room in the home frames a spectacular view (unfortunately we couldn’t photograph from inside the house). The view taken from behind the loggia through that structure gives an idea of just how much thought went into designing every inch of the property.

The sad part of Longue Vue, like much of New Orleans, is the astounding amount of damage done by Hurricane Katrina. Even though it’s been almost four years, the damage is still very evident. I’ve included a couple of photos here of the Spanish Court garden, which was designed as a showcase for the Stern collection of fountains. As you can see, they are all dry. Still beautiful to look at, but all of the mechanics were destroyed by being covered by 10 feet of salt water for more than a month.

As you look at these photos, imagine the concept of having your garden completely covered with salt water for almost six weeks! It boggles my mind to see how much the staff there (and it’s a tiny group) has accomplished in the past few years! I can’t wait to go back again in a couple of years and see the fountains working again.

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