The Rosette Rochon House at 1515 Pauger Street, New Orleans
Don G. Richmond fell in love with this building almost forty years ago when he learned its connection with the free people of color in New Orleans of the 19th century. He bought it in 1977. Richmond began the restoration of the house, furnished in the style of the 1800s, to tell the story of free people of color and their life in New Orleans. He called the house Musée Rosette Rochon, after the entrepreneurial Rosette Rochon who built the house on one of the early lots of the new subdivision created by Bernard de Marigny. The house is one of the most important examples in New Orleans of the architectural transition between the Creole and American styles.
This typical Creole cottage has four rooms at the ground floor and two mansard-roofed rooms upstairs. A separate lot at the rear of the building contains an apartment which originally housed a kitchen, a laundry, a bedroom and other rooms. Although many original details of the house were destroyed, it still has some shutters, door handles and original moldings. Don donated this life-long project to the SoFAB Institute.
SoFAB intends to follow close on Don Richmond’s heels to continue to restore this house. Furnished in the style of the 1800s, this house will honor the memory of Rosette Rochon, an important figure of the Louisiana culinary culture. Marie Louise Rose “Rosette” Rochon and her 5 siblings were born slaves – to a French colonial planter and shipbuilder and a slave mother. All were freed through Pierre Rochon’s will. Their mother, Marianne, and the children subsequently moved to New Orleans.
Real estate records reveal that during the course of her life, Rosette bought, sold, built and leased numerous properties. She operated several culinary businesses that included grocery stores and a butcher shop. Rosette was probably the first person to operate a chain of corner grocery stores in New Orleans. She also ran a cattle operation on the north shore and shipped cattle in to the city to supply the meat markets.
As SoFAB continues to grow, we are anticipating the need to house visiting chefs and scholars who are engaged in research at the museum, the culinary library and in the other resources of New Orleans. A cottage that is itself a carefully restored artifact would be a special place to stay on a long term basis to absorb the culinary history of the city.
SoFAB was saddened by the loss of Don G. Richmond"Keysers," aged 86 years, on November 12, 2014 at his home in New Orleans. Don was a native of California and a longtime resident of New Orleans. His sisters Ina Hart of San Luis Obispo, California and Jan Ledbetter of Bakersfield, California survive him. Don was most proud of his development of Musee' Rosette Rochon, a historic Creole home in the Marigny neighborhood of New Orleans, which he bought in 1977 and named in honor of its builder, 19th century entrepreneur and free woman of color Rosette Rochon. Don's legacy will live on as SoFAB, in its capacity as donee, continues his work in restoring Musee' Rosette Rochon to be a residence for visiting scholars and chefs.