The Baroness De Pontalba & the Rise of Jackson Square
This tricentennial exhibition organized by the Louisiana State Museum and guest curator Randolph Delehanty, Ph.D. tells the city-defining story of Don Andrés Almonester and his formidable daughter, Micaela, the Baroness de Pontalba. It takes place on Dec. 2nd. It shows how a father’s philanthropy and a daughter’s determination created the urban heart and the architectural look of Old New Orleans. The exhibit draws on the landmark buildings and rich collections of the Louisiana State Museum, portraits, treasures from the Pontalba Family château in France, loans from other collections, and historic and commissioned photographs to revisualize New Orleans’ iconic urban core: Jackson Square, St. Louis Cathedral, the Cabildo, the Presbytère, and the twin Pontalba Buildings.
For more information visit: https://louisianastatemuseum.org/cabildo/exhibit/baroness-de-pontalba-rise-jackson-square
About The Cabildo
The Cabildo was built under Spanish rule between 1795 and 1799, following the Great New Orleans Fire of 1788 that completely destroyed the structure that stood on the property. Designed by Gilberto Guillemard, who also designed the neighboring St. Louis Cathedral and the Presbytère, the Cabildo was the site of the Louisiana Purchase transfer in 1803, which finalized the United States’ acquisition of the Louisiana Territory and doubled the size of the fledgling nation.
The Cabildo served as the center of New Orleans government until 1853, when it became the headquarters of the Louisiana State Supreme Court, where the landmark Plessy v. Ferguson decision originated in 1892.
The building was transferred to the Louisiana State Museum in 1908 and has since served to educate the public about Louisiana history.
In 1988 the Cabildo was severely damaged in an inferno and, within five years, the landmark was authentically restored with 600-year-old French timber framing techniques. It was reopened to the public in 1994, featuring a comprehensive exhibit on Louisiana’s early history.
This remarkable building’s tumultuous past is reason enough to pay it a visit, but the historical treasures within make it an absolute must-see.