The Brevard-Wisdom-Rice House
A friend of mine likes to tell a story about taking an out-of-town guest to see the various celebrity
homes in New Orleans.  They wound up in front of actress Sandra Bullock's house.  While they were
snapping a picture, a couple happened along, also, with camera in hand.  My friend said something
to the effect, "I guess everybody knows where Sandra Bullock lives."  With a surprised look, the man
said, "Sandra Bullock lives here?"  My friend couldn't resist asking, "If you didn't know Sandra Bullock
lived here, why were you taking pictures?"  They stared at her for a minute, as if anyone over the age
of two would know the answer, before the woman finally replied, "Because of its architecture and
history, of course."  My friend's guest smiled and shook her head, "Only in New Orleans would
architecture and history be as popular as movie stars."
New Orleans is fortunate to have many fine old homes, homes with stories that are even more
interesting than those of the celebrities that happen to be in residence today.  So, while you're
snapping a photo of Brad Pitt's or Nicolas Cage's or John Goodman's house, you might have
someone standing next to you who's snapping a picture because of the home's unique
history or architecture.
The house on this page is a good example.  Owned for several years by Anne Rice, native New
Orleanian and one of the most widely read authors in modern history, the house has been home
to several noteworthy and interesting people since it was constructed in 1857.
The photo at the
top of the page is
current; the photo
to the left was taken
in 1964.
Anne RIce purchased this home in 1989.  Her husband, Stan,
died in 2002 and, a few years later, she moved to California
to be near her son.  Ms. Rice used the house as the setting
for her Mayfair Witches novels.  The photo on the left was
taken in 1964, when Judge John Minor Wisdom lived in
the home.  The same room is shown above in 2010.
Above, left, 1933;  center, 1964,  right, same room, 2010.
This Greek Revival style home in the Garden District was constructed for Albert Hamilton Brevard,
a New Orleans merchant, in 1857.  At the time of its construction, the house boasted several
conveniences unusual for the time, including hot and cold running water.  Mr. Brevard died two
years after moving in, leaving the house to his daughter.

In 1869, Brevard's son-in-law sold the home to the Rev. Emory Clapp, pastor of First Unitarian
Church (the first Unitarian church established in the city, by his father, Dr. Theodore Clapp).
It was Rev. Emory Clapp who added Italianate elements to the home, as well as, the mirrors in
the photos above.  Poet Walt Whitman was often a guest of the Reverend's.  Rev. Clapp
died in 1881, but his widow continued to live in the house until her death in 1934.
In 1947, the house was purchased by John Minor Wisdom, who was
a lawyer and native New Orleanian who'd served in WWII.  In 1957,
Pres. Dwight Eisenhower appointed Wisdom to the Fifth Circuit Court,
headquartered in New Orleans, which then covered the wide area of
Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.
Not well known today, Judge Wisdom is considered by many
chroniclers of the Civil Rights movement to be an unsung hero of
the era.  In the 1950's-'60's, he issued many of the decisions
responsible for desegregating the six Southern states which were
under the mandate of the 5th Circuit.  He authored several landmark
decisions supporting school desegregation and voters' rights.  Judge
Wisdom was known as the scholar of the 5th Circuit and remained on
the bench until his death in 1999.  He was awarded the nation's
highest civilian honor in 1993, when he received the Presidential
Medal of Freedom.  In 1994, the U.S. Court of Appeals building in
New Orleans was renamed in his honor.
John Minor Wisdom U.S. Court
of Appeals building, New Orleans
The black and white photos on this page are courtesy of the Library of Congress.
The color photos of the Brevard home are courtesy of
Luxist.  The photo of the
Wisdom Court of Appeals building is courtesy of
Bobak & Wikimedia Commons.

~   ~   ~
You might like:

The John Minor Wisdom U.S. Court of Appeals Building

The Story of First Unitarian Universalist Church

The link to this page is:  http://old-new-orleans.com/NO_Rosegate.html

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