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The Unique Appeal of French Creole Homes

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                The Unique Appeal of French Creole Homes

French Creole architecture is one of the most prominent building styles of the Old South. This
stately form is recognizable on homes of all sizes, and immediately evokes the South's vibrant
past. Although it is called "French" Creole, the style draws from a mix of other cultures,
including Spanish, African, and Native American.


The French Creole style is most easily distinguished by generous front porch galleries which
usually span the length of the house, fronted by light wooden colonettes. What usually makes
a French Creole porch stand out is the fact that the building's roof extends all the way across
the porch, instead of stopping at the edge of the house and then changing its angle slightly to
cover the porch. Most French Creole homes are also built up to avoid seasonal river
floodwaters and hurricanes - the main rooms in these homes are placed well above grade,
while ground level rooms are used for a variety of non-essential purposes - for this reason,
French Creole homes are also known as "tidewater" homes. A broad staircase connects upper
floor galleries with the ground level, and acts an extension of the main entrance. French
Creole homes are also characterized by heavy timber construction, occasionally with an infill of
mud or brick. A unique building material, known as bousillage, was also pioneered in the
construction of French Creole homes - it was comprised of moss, animal hair, and mud. Many
homes in this style were also distinguished by multiple French doors, and extremely steep
angle braces.


There are also a variety of commercial and urban interpretations of the French Creole style.
French Creole cottages in downtown New Orleans stand flush with the property and generally
have no gallery. Townhouses of this style included a low mezzanine-type storage area known
as the entresol between the first and second floor, and a wide carriage passage connecting the
street to the building's main courtyard. Many buildings of this type can still be seen in New
Orlean's French Quarter.


French Creole homes originated in New Orleans in the early 1700s, and quickly spread across
the south as builders looked for a practical yet attractive style for this region's humid
subtropical climate. "Creole" refers to a people of mixed French and West Indies or Latin
American heritage who live in the Gulf of Mexico region.


Original French Creole homes provide some of the most attractive examples of residential
architecture in the South, from small cottages to large plantation estates.




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