By Millie Ball
September 16, 2012
"What's that?" Visitors often ask that in New Orleans, which is a trove of unexpected juxtapositions. Just steps off the French Quarter's raunchy Bourbon Street, for instance, is the stately Hermann-Grima House, a Federal-style brick mansion with French Louisiana balconies and galleries. Ring the doorbell.
Why it's a treasure: The Hermann-Grima House, named after two early owners, is an interpretation of a wealthy New Orleanian's home between 1830 and 1860. Carpets were made on an 1830s loom; furniture is typical of the era. Each October, the house is draped in mourning for a funeral. In December, the dining room table is set for a holiday meal. Open-hearth cooking demonstrations are given Tuesdays and Thursdays, October through May. No tasting, alas. But hungry visitors can arrange private lessons beginning with biscuits and coffee.
Why you'd want to live here: Sleeping in canopied beds is sweet. There's so much to discover: thousands of books, portraits, memorabilia. And a Civil War bullet hole.
Why you wouldn't: Rooms tend to be dark, with heavy drapes and thick carpets. And where would you watch "NCIS"?
The surprise: The final bedroom on the tour is a scene from the mid-20th century, when the building was a boardinghouse called the Christian Women's Exchange. Note the 1920s bed with mosquito netting and a 1941 Saturday Evening Post. The Exchange Shop, in an adjoining building. sells photos, paintings, jewelry and crafts by local female artists.
Info: Hermann-Grima House, 820 St. Louis St., New Orleans; (504) 525-5661, http://www.hgghh.org. Hourly tours 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, and noon-3 p.m. Saturdays. Wednesdays by appointment. Admission $12 for adults; $10 for children, students, seniors and AAA members.
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