1707 Esplanade Avenue
In 1822, in the area now known as Esplanade Ridge, city surveyor, Joseph Pilie, mapped the future
avenue of Esplanade along the high ground of the ancient Native American portage that connected
the heart of the city on the river to Bayou St. John. When the street was finally completed several
years later, it was a wide, European-style boulevard. But, even before it was completed, the area had
attracted prominent New Orleanians, especially, Creole residents. By the mid-1800's, Esplanade
Avenue was the preferred address of the city's upper class Creoles. One letter of the time mentions
that, "All of the most elite Creoles covet a home on the Esplanade."
In 1859, Basilice Bedesclaux-Duchamp sold a lot on what is now the 1700 block of Esplanade, to
Cyprien Dufour and his wife, Louise Donnet. That year, architects Henry Howard and Albert Diettel
designed the house you see on this page for the Dufours. M. Dufour was a prominent attorney and
essayist, who served over the years as New Orleans District Attorney, assistant Attorney General of
Louisiana, state senator and member of the Constitutional Convention of 1851.
The Dufours sold the home to Albert and Arthemise Bouligny Baldwin in 1870. Mr. Baldwin was a
leading businessman and philanthropist. Mrs. Baldwin was a descendant of Don Francisco de
Bouligny, a governor during the Spanish colonial period. Their daughter, Arthemise, was Queen of
Rex in 1896. The Baldwin family remained in the house until 1912.
Interestingly, one of the Baldwins' grandsons, Albert Baldwin Wood, designed the centrifugal pump
and, later, the screw pump, that enabled water to be pumped from land situated below sea level. Mr.
Baldwin was an engineer and, from 1939-1956, he was the superintendent of New Orleans Sewerage
& Water Board. His pump designs went on to be used but throughout the world. Many subsequent
inventions - he was credited with 38 patents - became the industry standard and Mr. Baldwin's designs
revolutionized sewerage systems all over the world. He came to be known as the ultimate authority on
heavy duty pumps was asked to consult on engineering projects on almost every continent, including
the famous Dutch pumping system. However, despite his world travels and the acclaim he received,
he remained with the N. O. Sewerage & Water Board until his retirement.
It was said of him that he "...rendered the city of New Orleans one of the greatest services it had ever
received from an individual." Even today, not only in New Orleans, but almost all such pumps
worldwide are based on the original development of Mr. Baldwin's design. Since 1912, for all the times
there have been rainstorms in New Orleans and the streets did not flood, we have Mr. Baldwin to
thank. -- Nancy
|The photo at the top of the page is a current one. Unfortunately, I don't have dates
for most of the remaining photographs, but I've attempted to display them with what I
believe to be the oldest first, on down the page, to another current shot at the bottom.
|The photo above was taken in the 1930's.