Embracing the Quarter life, a former New Yorker enlivens his 1824 farmhouse with antiques and a dose of whimsy | Home & Garden

There’s nothing formal about James Douglas Hislop, his historic French Quarter home, or his extensive collection of 18th- and 19th-century English, French, and Louisiana antiquities.

Originally from Sydney, Australia, he lived in New York City until the COVID-19 pandemic shut down his Manhattan neighborhood in 2020. That’s when Hislop, fun-loving and fashionable, began looking for an escape.

“At least there were signs of life here,” Hislop said of New Orleans.

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James Douglas Hislop is a native Australian who came here from New York City. “I like living here,” he says. ‘You have more scope to go bigger, more scope to be extravagant, extravagant. Since I moved in almost two years ago, I have embraced the French Quarter lifestyle.’

However, to his dismay, shortly after moving into his 1824 Creole farmhouse, Mardi Gras 2021 was cancelled. “I couldn’t believe I was sitting out on Mardi Gras day…and it was freezing cold. Not what he had in mind at all.

But he stayed, and now a social life in the French Quarter seems to be hardwired into his DNA, so much so that he’s volunteered home to be one of five on tour this weekend on the Patio Planters Holiday Home Tour.

Hislop’s penchant for whimsy and entertaining is on full display in the house, where he handpicked every fabric, finish and furnishings.

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Zuber guest room wallpaper ‘Scenes from a French Garden’ is the backdrop to a Louis XV furniture ensemble in walnut and satinwood.

The seeds of his passion for art, antiques, history and design were planted by his intellectually curious parents, who regularly traveled to Europe with their children.

Hislop acquired most of his antique collection at Keil’s Antiques and Moss Antiques, both on Royal Street. Zuber mural wallpapers are high-end reproductions of early 19th century styles.

champagne lifestyle

The gourmet kitchen, installed by a previous owner, includes a wood-fired pizza oven that vents through the home’s original fireplace.

“I do not cook. I make toast,” Hislop said, pointing to a flimsy countertop toaster. “But the chefs love to cook in this kitchen.”

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Copper pots sit atop the Viking double stove installed by the previous owner; Chupa Chups lollipops are all from Hislop.

The countertop of a dark-hued Viking double cooktop over double ovens displays a collection of gleaming copper vessels. Adjacent to the range is a tower of Chupa Chups lollipops in a rainbow of hues.

In a nod to her Australian heritage, an open cabinet is stocked with a collection of champagne glasses and flutes, the foot of each adorned with a tiny koala bear.

“Koalas love their champagne, and so do I,” Hislop said as he opened his Liebherr fridge to reveal a nearly empty interior of shelves to accommodate a Nebuchadnezzar (equivalent to 20 standard bottles) of Mailly Grand Cru Brut Reserve.

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an open cabinet is filled with a collection of champagne flutes and stemware, the foot of each adorned with a small koala bear.

It towered above the more typical bottles of champagne, numerous bottles of water and tonics, and a jar of pickles.

“This is all very ‘Single’. I take being single very seriously,” said Hislop, a North Carolina-based owner of a wholesale butter company.

Near the passage between the kitchen and the patio, an 18th century octagonal butter churn with a hand crank of fine wood with a satin finish speaks of the profession that seems to serve it well.

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A tour of the French Quarter passes the Creole cottage built around 1824.

From nuns to mermaids

The land on which the house was built was part of the original land grant granted to the Ursuline nuns in 1726. The Vieux Carré Digital Survey website cites a history of the area written in the 1930s: “It rests on the site of the ancient burial ground of the ursuline nuns. From 1734 to 1824, all deceased members of that order were buried here.”

The nuns built Hislop’s house and two identical adjoining Creole cottages to generate rental income. They retained ownership of the cabins until 1870.

“I don’t think the house is haunted by nuns or otherwise,” Hislop joked.

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Antique Louisiana-made rosewood chairs are accompanied by the occasional trunk from Lucullus Antiques in Faubourg Marigny.

That’s a good thing: nuns would probably disapprove of the metal champagne hoop skirt Hislop employs for models to wear to hand out glasses at his frequent lavish parties, or the burlesque dancers and/or stilt walkers he entertains on the patio next to the pool. where mermaids swim to the sound of the serenades of the best jazz musicians in the city.

An eye for the exceptional

The striking wallpaper in the living room is a reprint of the 1818 original by Joseph Dufour and Co. of Paris and reproduced by Zuber, also of Paris, using the woodblocks originally used to print it.

The scene unfolds through the walls to tell the story of Homer’s “Odyssey”.

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A 19th century Baccarat crystal and gold chandelier dates from the Belle Epoch period of Paris. The embroidered silk curtains are by Zuber of Paris.

“The scenes depicted were originally produced in 1818, just six years before my house was completed,” Hislop noted. “The wallpaper has a connection to New Orleans beyond just being made in France. Andrew Jackson installed the same wallpaper design at his Hermitage mansion in 1831”.

The floors in all living areas are bare. “It’s better for parties,” Hislop said. “And I also like the floors.”

Illuminating the rooms is a 19th century gold and Baccarat crystal chandelier from the Belle Epoch period of Paris. Another chandelier reveals rare Wedgewood plaques amid shimmering crystals.

The rooms contain a mix of fine antiques and contemporary Italian furniture. A circular inlaid rarewood cocktail table is by Lucullus Antiques in Faubourg Marigny.

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The sparsely furnished upstairs master bedroom gets its focal point from the walnut masif bed lavishly carved with cherubs and nubile female figures. “It came from a castle in Le Mans, France,” said Andree Keil Moss, owner of Moss Antiques and Keil’s Antiques.

Near the Christmas tree, an empty Nebuchadnezzar is adorned with a wreath around his neck. An adjacent stair rail highlights an imposing gilt French panel mirror made by Boisserie between 1790 and 1820, making it even older than the house itself.

The upstairs master suite, with its unadorned white walls, is sparsely furnished except for a stunning walnut masif master bed lavishly carved with cherubs and nubile female figures.

“It came from a castle in Le Mans, France,” said Andree Keil Moss, owner of Moss Antiques and Keil’s Antiques.

The vaulted ceiling beams were stripped of centuries of paint to reveal the surprise of gold-leafed crucifixes, presumably applied by the Ursulines.

Hislop’s collection of hats sits on top of a low chest of drawers. “I’m a bald guy,” he said, pulling his hat over his head. “So, I collect hats.”

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A guest room in the former slave quarters features a carved mahogany four-poster bed accompanied by a walnut armoire, both of Louisiana provenance.

Two rooms on the ground floor are papered with “Scenes from a French Garden” by Zuber. Wallpapers ic in New York.

One room has a full suite of Louis XV style satinwood and walnut furniture, the other a stunning briar suite.

The guest space in the former slave quarters features a carved mahogany canopy bed in an old Louisiana style familiar to Creole plantation homes. It is accompanied by a walnut cabinet also from Louisiana.

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“The quality of this collection speaks to privately owned stories,” Moss said. “The choices that were made were mundane and imaginative.”

Embroidered silk curtains throughout the house are by Zuber of Paris.

right home

“I like living here,” Hislop said. “You have more freedom to go bigger, more freedom to be extravagant, extravagant. Since moving in almost two years ago, I have embraced the French Quarter lifestyle. You can sit on your balcony, just have a quiet drink and watch a lavish wedding at BK House (Beauregard Keyes), then watch a second line go by.”

Hislop is a member of Vieux Carre Property Owners, Residents, and Associates; Planters in the Patio del Vieux Carré; and the BK Foundation.

“He’s taken that historic home, breathed new life into it, and shares it with the community,” said Stephen Swain, a board member and former president of Patio Planters.

“James is the type of person we love to see join our French Quarter community. He’s not trying to change the French Quarter, he’s allowed the French Quarter to change him.”


What: Patio Planters of the Vieux Carré will offer self-guided tours of five houses in the Lower French Quarter, all decked up for the holidays.

When: Sunday from 12 to 16 p.m. (Carols from Patio Planters in Jackson Square follow at 6 p.m.)

Tickets: $30 online; $35 the day of, cash only. Buy them or pick up tickets online outside The Cabildo, 701 Chartres St., from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays.

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