The 1850 House Museum

An attraction that is part of the outstanding Louisiana State Museum system, 1850 House is a stately row house that has been renovated to resemble how it might have appeared during the middle of the nineteenth century. Visitors to 1850 House will have the chance to tour a historic space full of relics, artifacts, and furniture reflective of the lifestyle of the well-to-do residents of antebellum New Orleans. A well-curated shop sells an assortment of local souvenirs.

Money Saving Tip! The 1850 House Museum is included on the Go New Orleans Pass as well as the New Orleans Sightseeing Pass. If you are sightseeing in New Orleans, then you can save a lot of money with a pass.

The 1850 House History

The inimitable red-brick structures that line two sides of the one-and-only Jackson Square are known as the Pontalba Buildings. They were constructed between 1849 and 1851, and they bear the name of the Baroness de Pontalba, the wealthy heir to a Spanish fortune responsible for designing them. Though the Baroness spent most of her adult life residing in Paris, her style choices made an indelible mark on the architecture of New Orleans.

The Baroness envisioned the Pontalba Buildings functioning as a mixture of elegant homes and bustling shops, and so they did until her family sold the properties to a philanthropist named William Ratcliffe Irby in 1921. A half-decade later Irby would give the structures to the Louisiana State Museum, who would transform part of the space into the 1850 House. The Pontalba Buildings were granted National Historic Landmark status in 1974.

What’s at The 1850 House Museum

1850 House is located in the Lower Pontalba Building, on the northeast side of Jackson Square, right around the corner from The Presbytère, St. Louis Cathedral, and The Cabildo. Once the Louisiana State Museum took control of the Lower Pontalba Building in the mid-20th Century, they created the 1850 House in order to provide visitors with a sense of what life might have been like in one of these grand residences during the heyday of the Baroness’ vision.

As a result, 1850 House features several well-appointed rooms that are full of historic treasures. The home’s dining room contains a significant collection of Old Paris porcelain and New Orleans silver, while the walls throughout the attraction are lined with portraits and paintings created by prominent nineteenth-century French artists.

The 1850 House Museum Store is a terrific place to pick up a souvenir of your time in New Orleans. This excellent gift shop is operated by the Friends of the Cabildo, a non-profit organization that works closely with the Louisiana State Museum to support its educational mission. Here you’ll find locally made jewelry and crafts, books on all manner of New Orleans subjects, apparel, knickknacks, and so much more.

Tips for Visiting The 1850 House Museum

  • 1850 House is open to the public 10:30am to 4:30pm Tuesdays through Sundays. It is closed each Monday and on every major holiday.
  • The 1850 House Museum Store is also a great place to purchase tickets to a number of popular local walking tours. Check out the Friends of the Cabildo website in advance of your trip for more details.
  • Most visitors report spending less than one hour touring the 1850 House. Add this to the fact that 1850 House is located on Jackson Square in the heart of the French Quarter, with numerous other popular attractions just a block or two away, and 1850 House is perfect for slotting into your day wherever you have a spare 60 minutes or so. This is something to keep in mind as you plan your visit.
  • To that end, if you need a quick pick-me-up after stopping at 1850 House—or you just want to cross another legendary New Orleans site off your to-do list—be sure and walk across Decatur Street to Café Du Monde. This iconic establishment is world-famous for its chicory coffee, café au laits, and beignets.