On our last full day in New Orleans, we spent the morning touring and sketching at the Beauregard-Keyes House. Built in 1826 by a well-to-do auctioneer, it takes its name from its most famous residents, Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard, who lived there for some time during the mid-1860s, and author Frances Parkinson Keyes, an author who penned 51 books beginning in 1919.
During the tour, I confess I was much more interested in Mrs. Keyes than in General Beauregard, so most of the information I took away concerned her. Mrs. Keyes (pronounced to rhyme with “eyes”) rented the house in 1944 from a group of ladies who had saved the house from demolition in 1925. (They had tackled the house as a historical project because General Beauregard had lived there.) Mrs. Keyes eventually bought the house and restored both it and the formal garden, and turned the kitchen washhouse into her writing studio. For 25 years, she lived there during the winter months and wrote several of her books there, including the only one that I have read, Dinner at Antoine’s. She died there in 1970.
The house contains furniture belonging to General Beauregard and his family, as well as many items Mrs. Keyes collected throughout her life: dolls, fans, and veilleuses, described to us as nightlights, but originally used to keep a small portion of drink or semi-liquid food warm at nighttime, usually for an infant or sick person. I loved the veilleuses Mrs. Keyes collected and wanted to bring a similar one home as a souvenir, but the only ones sold in the museum gift shop were plain white and not particularly attractive. Something to look for in antiques stores, perhaps.
|Handwritten manuscript for The Chess Player|
|Two sketchers at work|
|All our sketchbooks. Mine is the one on the bottom left.|