Posted by: Katy | December 13, 2007

The House on the Corner of Nashville and Claiborne

Ever since I was a little girl, my dream has been to own an old New Orleans home.  In fact, I’ve been vocalizing this dream (quite audibly) from the moment I could first complete sentences.  Blame my parents for driving me down St. Charles Avenue, through the Garden District, and Uptown around the Audubon Zoo.  Perhaps their worst mistake was to drive past the old white house on the corner of Nashville and Claiborne Avenue.  With its Spanish tile roof, huge porch, gorgeous windows, and large live oaks, this home took up a double lot and rose three stories high.  To me, it was the center of the universe, near the Audubon Zoo, Tulane University, and close to all the wonders the city holds—Carnival, St. Charles Avenue, museums, parks, art galleries, restaurants, the Superdome, the French Quarter, the river.  However, I didn’t just randomly select this home as the physical embodiment of my dream of an old New Orleans home.  The big white house on Claiborne Avenue was built by my great-great grandparents in the 1920’s and was home to my great grandmother, born Eugenie Josephine Dejean, whom I was blessed to know for the first twelve years of my life.  By the time I was born, the house had passed into other hands, but whenever we’d drive by, my father would remind us of its significance.  My grandfather and his siblings spent a large part of their childhood there, and my father also remembered the house well.  And so this place lived in my dreams. 

 The first thing I did when I returned home from Hurricane Katrina (after, of course, visiting my own apartment and cleaning out the refrigerator) was to drive by the old house and see the water line staining its white facade.  The limbs of the old oaks had fallen on the roof, tiles were broken, shingles in the yard, windows shattered.  But the house still stood.  It was a testament to those solid old homes built with cypress and the best of materials, crafted to stand the test of time.  It wasn’t long before I started to envision a way to bring my dream to fruition—to own an historic piece of this city myself.  After vast amounts of research, serious budgeting, crunching numbers, consulting with mortgage brokers and real estate agents, viewing decrepit house after roofless gutted house, peering under houses and knocking on sills and studs with house inspectors, seeking advice from plumbers and electricians and contractors, working with the most tireless real estate agent in the state of Louisiana, signing and initialing document after document, checking the “single woman box,” and convincing rightfully skeptical family and friends—I bought my first house, my old New Orleans home!

 It’s been almost six months since I moved in, and although I have faced many struggles (fire, rats, drug dealers, negligent neighbors, and plain old sweat equity), there has not been one single day when I have ever regretted my decision.  This house was meant for me.  It was waiting for me.  And, not coincidentally, it is located so that, almost every day, I drive past the big white house on Nashville and Claiborne.  

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