article and photo used with permission of the Preservation Resource Center
photo by Ian Cockburn
Home of Ben Gauslin
By Gabrielle Begue
THIS MODEST, TWO-BAY shotgun was likely built as a rental house around 1906 by French Quarter travel agent Albert Ducombs, whose residence was one block away at 3230 Dumaine, but the property’s chain of title originates with entrepreneur and philanthropist John McDonogh.
Upon his death in 1850, McDonogh donated his vast real estate holdings to the City of New Orleans, which parceled the land in 1859 and sold it off to various parties, who in turn divided up and sold their parcels as smaller lots.
Due to its long-term use as a rental, this bargeboard single saw numerous interior alterations, yet its simple, sturdy bones were still evident to first-time homeowner, architect and Web developer Ben Gauslin, who purchased the house in 2010.
With spare, neutral furnishings and plenty of negative space, the house spotlights the architecture and feels more spacious that the shotgun’s limited dimensions. Each room features a different wall color, the refreshing blues, pinks, and yellows echoing the traditional Caribbean-influenced hues found throughout the city while also highlighting the spaces’ geometry in a decidedly modern way.
Combining his minimalist modern aesthetic with a respect for traditional building methods, Gauslin stripped out unoriginal elements and gutted the house to its worn, glowing pine floors and bargeboard walls. Gauslin re-covered most of the boards with insulation and plaster but chose to leave one interior wall exposed as a celebration of the house’s humble architectural roots. Its dark wood adds warmth and texture to the expansive parlor at the front of the house, which Gauslin created by knocking out an original non-supporting wall that had cut the space into two smaller living and dining areas.
A streamlined, chrome-and-white IKEA kitchen with ample storage space now stretches the length of one wall, offering a study in how to creatively use the challenging, narrow spaces of the shotgun layout.
While most buildings of this type feature a small backyard and side alleys, this house’s unusual off-center placement on the 28-foot-wide lot provides an ample side yard, which Gauslin is currently converting from a cracked concrete driveway to a landscaped patio for grilling, lounging with friends, and playing with his Catahoula-mix dog, Calvin.
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.