Many fiction writers have been inspired by the charm and mystique, not to mention the gothic spookiness of New Orleans. The most successful of them all was Anne Rice, whose bestselling series “The Vampire Chronicles” combined sexy vampires with real-life New Orleans landmarks, including sometimes her own homes.
Rice, who died last December, lived in this vintage Victorian in New Orleans’s famous Garden District until 2010, when she moved to California to be closer to her son. The house sits on a third of an acre, dates to 1888 and, of course, is said to be haunted. How could it not be, given its macabre-loving longtime owner?
Intrigued by the spellbinding property? It’s now available, with Eleanor Farnsworth at Latter & Blum, for just under $4 million, a whopping $600,000 less than the previous ask. (The house remained in Rice’s possession until her passing, though it has been for sale on and off at a variety of prices since she relocated to California.)
A particularly picturesque part of the city, the Garden District lives up to its name, with gracious old mansions, spreading live oaks, and pleasant cafes and antique shops. This dignified old Gothic style house is one of the neighborhood’s most attractive sights, with deep porches that keep the interior shady and offer some respite from the sweltering Louisiana summer.
Lavish, mostly unfurnished interiors live up to the exterior’s grandeur; there are pastel walls and a few pieces of jewel-toned upholstered pieces, elaborate moldings, marble mantels galore, and what look to be the original chandeliers. Inviting window seats, a carved mahogany and cypress staircase, and kaleidoscopically colored stained glass complete the elegant look, though the ersatz-Mucha stained glass in the main-bedroom’s shower are likely new rather than antique.
At almost 8,800-square-foot, the five-bedroom mansion sports five full baths, plus a powder room, and a huge and high-end kitchen that is pretty OTT, with elaborately carved corbels and several more crystal chandeliers, but probably works fairly well in context with the house’s Old-World opulence. Outside, the simple gardens include a swath of green lawn, some tall palm trees, and a fountain, as well as a vast covered patio with a fireplace for entertaining on nippy evenings.
Certainly, this would be a fun place to own and to furnish, with as much elaborate Victorian furniture and as many fainting couches as possible. Be sure to throw in some lace tablecloths and wax flowers. Heck, why not a stuffed bird or two? How about grand piano and maybe even a harp? Go to town with gilt-framed mirrors, ormolu clocks, and some classical busts. Fill it with timeless and ostentatious treasures from the past. After all, Rice clearly designed and maintained the residence to be accommodating to sophisticated, luxury-loving immortals whose lives span centuries rather than decades.
Indeed, one could easily imagine her beloved “Vampire Chronicles” character, 200-year-old blood sucker Lestat de Lioncourt, here; he said, in a passage from Rice’s 1995 novel “Memnoch the Devil”:
“I entered the lower corridor cautiously, and at once found myself loving the proportions of the place, the loftiness and the breadth of the corridors, the intense smell of the recently bared brick walls, and the good wood scent of the bare yellow pine floors. … This had been a habitation and something of a hallowed one. I could feel it all at once.”