The Upper and Lower Pontalba Buildings were built on Jackson Square in 1850 by Baroness Micaela Almonester de Pontalba. The first floor housed businesses and offices, but the second floor was dedicated to elegant residences for middle class families affluent enough to afford the rent that came along with one of New Orleans's most fashionable locations.
The 1850 House has been re-created by the Louisiana State Museum to look as it would have when it was newly finished, using furniture and pieces that reflect styles popular in the 1850s. Along with paintings by French-trained artists, visitors can see Old Paris porcelain and New Orleans silver on display. Guided tours provide history and insight for visitors not familiar with the property’s background, but self-guided tours are also possible.
In 1921 the Pontalba family sold the Lower Pontalba Building to philanthropist William Ratcliff Irby, who donated it to the State Museum in 1927. The State Museum opened the 1850 House to the public in 1948.
Centrally located on Jackson Square, the 1850 House is easy to visit when in New Orleans. It is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10am to 4:30pm.