From the Director’s Desk: Musée Rosette Rochon at SoFAB


LIZ WILLIAMS

 

Photo by Stephen Binns

Photo by Stephen Binns

Don G. Richmond fell in love with this building almost forty years ago when he learned its connection with the free people of color in New Orleans of the 19th century. He bought it in 1977. Richmond began the restoration of the house, furnished in the style of the 1800s, to tell the story of free people of color and their life in New Orleans. He called the house Musée Rosette Rochon, after the entrepreneurial Rosette Rochon who built the house on one of the early lots of the new subdivision created by Bernard de Marigny. The house is one of the most important examples in New Orleans of the architectural transition between the Creole and American styles.

This typical Creole cottage has four rooms at the ground floor and two mansard-roofed rooms upstairs. A separate lot at the rear of the building contains an apartment which originally housed a kitchen, a laundry, a bedroom and other rooms. Although many original details of the house were destroyed, it still has some shutters, door handles and original moldings. Don has recently donated this life-long project to the SoFAB Institute.

Photo by Stephen Binns

Photo by Stephen Binns

SoFAB intends to follow close on Don Richmond’s heels to continue to restore this house. Furnished in the style of the 1800s, this house will honor the memory of Rosette Rochon, an important figure of the Louisiana culinary culture. Marie Louise Rose “Rosette” Rochon and her 5 siblings were born slaves – to a French colonial planter and shipbuilder and a slave mother. All were freed through Pierre Rochon’s will. Their mother, Marianne, and the children subsequently moved to New Orleans.

Real estate records reveal that during the course of her life, Rosette bought, sold, built and leased numerous properties. She operated several culinary businesses that included grocery stores and a butcher shop. Rosette was probably the first person to operate a chain of corner grocery stores in New Orleans. She also ran a cattle operation on the North Shore and shipped cattle in to the city to supply the meat markets.

Photo by Stephen Binns

Photo by Stephen Binns

As SoFAB continues to grow, we are anticipating the need to house visiting chefs and scholars who are engaged in research at the museum, the culinary library and in the other resources of New Orleans. A cottage that is itself a carefully restored artifact would be a special place to stay on a long term basis to absorb the culinary history of the city.

If you also desire to participate in the preservation of this heritage – which is architectural, culinary, and historical – your donation is important to us.

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