article and photo used with permission of the Preservation Resource Center
Photo by Ian Cockburn
The home of Daniel Samuels and Dr. Nona Epstein
by Valorie Hart
Research by Valorie Hart and Sharon McManis
WHERE ARCHITECT DANIEL SAMUELS and his wife Dr. Nona Epstein saw the potential of the circa 1912 raised shotgun on the banks of the bayou, their family and friends saw rot, unfortunate facade proportions and an outdated floor plan.
Despite protests that they were crazy, the Samuels bought the house in 1992. The renovation was major — 40 percent of the sills and 60 percent of the floor joists were replaced, but with the expertise and skill of contractors such as Abry Brothers, Inc., the Samuels transformed the dilapidated shotgun into a warm family home.
Other improvements during the initial renovation included replacing the pediment and columns, moving the front door to the side gallery and redoing the facade with more Neo-Classical and refined architectural details. The Samuels also raised the house two feet in the hopes of, someday, building additional living space on the ground floor. These changes led the house to visually “grow up” to match the grandiose stature of its neighbors. Beyond that, the family lived in the house much the way a family in 1921 had, making the most of the great room proportions, high ceilings, cypress floors, pocket doors in every room, claw-foot bathtub, and, of course, that view of
Bayou St. John.
After returning from Austin, Texas following Hurricane Katrina, the Samuels immediately obtained permits to complete their ground floor addition, which includes a stair hall, two bedrooms, a bathroom, laundry room, windows on all sides and eight-foot ceilings that diminish any feeling of being in a basement addition.
Upstairs, the master bedroom utilizes the original front door as an entrance to a porch overlooking the bayou. The Neo-Classical porch railings, designed by Samuels, were fabricated by Ironworks Service. The stair hall that divides the master bedroom and office from the living space is an amazing aerie with tall windows and striking modern iron and cable stair banisters.
The elegant living/dining room has a set of original bay windows overlooking the side gallery and a decidedly Southwest-style fireplace that Samuels clad in plaster over brick. The house is eco-friendly with bamboo floors used in the new addition and Marmoleum floors, a type of sustainable linoleum, in the kitchen. Windows have been liberally added so that every room has a view of the bayou, while providing extra light to the house.
Doesn’t this house sound great? You can see more of this house and many more during the Preservation Resource Center’s Shotgun Tour of Faubourg St. John homes on Saturday, March 31st from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The headquarters for the PRC’s Shotgun Tour of Faubourg St. John will be at the PITOT HOUSE at 1440 Moss Street on Bayou St. John.
The tour is just…
$16 for PRC and Louisiana Landmarks Society members
$20 for non-members
$10 each for groups of 10 or more
All tickets are $25 at the Pitot House on the day of the tour so get your tickets early!
Ticketholders will receive discounts from area businesses including Bayou Beer Garden, Cafe Degas, CC’s Coffee House, Cork & Bottle Wine Shop, Fair Grinds Coffee House, Liuzza’s by the Track, Lux Day Spa, Pal’s Lounge, and Swirl Wine Bar & Market.
For more information call (504) 581-7032 or visit prcno.org
SPONSORS of the PRC Home Tour
Abry Brothers, Inc.
Cork & Bottle Wine Shop
Louisiana Landmarks Society
Parkway Bakery & Tavern
Soprano’s Meat Market
Uptown Insurance Agency
Tour Headquarters: PITOT HOUSE
Built in 1799, the Pitot House is one of the oldest Creole country house buildings in New Orleans. It is traditional stucco-covered, brick-between-post construction with a double hipped roof and wide galleries. The house is named for James Pitot, the first mayor of incorporated New Orleans, who lived here from 1810 -1819.
Now open for tours and special events, the house was restored in 1960 by the Louisiana Landmarks Society, which uses the building as its headquarters.
Shotgun House ticket holders will have the opportunity to visit the historic Pitot House.