Visiting Colonel Short's Villa in New Orleans

Colonel Short's Villa New Orleans

Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Colonel Short's Villa, also known as the Short-Favrot House, is a famous landmark that is a favorite stop on Garden District walking tours and for architecture buffs visiting New Orleans. The house itself is lovely, but the real attraction is the famous cast-iron fence, shaped like cornstalks intertwined with morning glories.

Quick History of the House

The Villa was built in 1859 for Colonel Robert Henry Short, a man who made his fortune working as a commission merchant in the bustling antebellum cotton industry. Short was a Kentucky native who chose to build his home in the "American" Garden District of New Orleans, like so many other English-speakers who moved to New Orleans in the boom years after the Louisiana purchase, and who didn't wish to live in the French Quarter with the Francophone Creoles.

The house was designed in the Italianate Style by architect Henry Howard, who designed many of the finest houses in the New Orleans area, including the elaborate Nottoway Plantation home.

The house was occupied during the Civil War, first by Governor Michael Hahn, and then by Major General Nathaniel P. Banks. It was returned to Colonel Short when the war ended in 1865, and he lived there until his death in 1890.

Quick History of the Fence

Legend has it that Colonel Short's wife was a homesick native Iowan and that he had the fence commissioned to remind her of the fields of corn back home. It's as likely that he simply picked it out of a catalog, though, just because it was interesting and beautiful.

The fence was cast by Wood, Miltenberger, & Co., a New Orleans branch of the famous Philadelphia foundry, Wood & Perot. From their headquarters on Camp Street, Wood, Miltenberger, & Co. cast many of New Orleans' most famous works of cast iron, including fences, balconies, and elements of graves. The cornstalk fence that stands at what is now the Corn Stalk Hotel in the French Quarter was also cast by Wood, Miltenberger, & Co.

Visiting

Colonel Short's Villa is found at the corner of Fourth Street and Prytania (the official address is 1448 Fourth Street), kitty-corner from The Rink shopping complex, which houses the wonderful Garden Street Books. It is a private residence and is not open for tours, but the main attraction, the fence, can be viewed up close from the sidewalk.