Architecture & History
by Restoration Architecture Studio
at Louisiana State University
Note: This study was performed and is reported as in the year 1974. Since then the home has been restored and operated as a Bed & Breakfast, restaurant and wine parlor.
Location: At the junction of Woodville Road and Baton Rouge Road in St Francisville, Louisiana.
Present Owner: Eloise C. Burnett
Present Use: Vacant
Statement of Significance: The house is an excellent architectural example of the Victorian style and is located in an area with considerable historical and architectural background. The "Wolf - Schlesinger House" is important as a part of the architectural context of St Francisville.
PART 1: HISTORICAL INFORMATION
A. Physical History
The house is located on property which is the same portion of land Morris Wolf acquired from Denison Stocking on April 28, 1878, in consideration of one thousand dollars. Morris Wolf owned this property from 1878 through June 1903, at which time the property "with all improvements" was sold to Aaron Schlesinger for thirty-five hundred dollars. Records indicate the house was built during the time Morris Wolf owned the property:
a. the 1881 tax roll listed Wolf's property as "lot and improvements occupied as his residence at the forks of Baton Rouge and Woodville Roads. Value assessed at three thousand dollars. (a two thousand dollar increase over the purchase price.)
b. Wolf sold the property to Schlesinger for thirty-five hundred dollars, indicating that the value of improvements between 1881 and 1903 were approximately the same.
More specifically, the house was probably built between 1878 and 1881.
After Schlesinger bought the house in 1903, it was used as a private residence by the Schlesinger family until January 15, 1954, when Dorothea Schlesinger (Aaron's daughter) sold the property to Frank Vinci for seventy-six hundred dollars. Vinci traded the property to Eloise Burnett for ten thousand five hundred dollars and a twelve foot strip of property on Highway 61. At the time of purchase, Burnett converted the house into three apartments.
This short section is added to update since the study: The Wolf-Schlesinger House was later abandoned and left to ruin until Dick & Florence Filet purchased the home in 1981 and totally renovated (3 years) the main house and existing three room wing. A fourth room was later added over the cistren and back porch, thus connecting the main house to the servant wing. The Filets initially opened the Wolf-Schlesinger House as a Bed & Breakfast calling it the St Francisville Inn. The back wing of six rooms was also added at this time, keeping the same architechural design. One year later, enclosing the back porch for more dining area and adding a commerical kitchen, a restaurant was added.
In 1990, the Filets sold the St Francisville Inn to Patrick and Laurie Walsh, the present owner/operators. The Walshes have since added a swimming pool, the tenth guest room and owner's quarters in the attic of the mainhouse. The Walshes welcome you to come enjoy a stay at their Inn and experience the beauty and history of St Francisville, Louisiana.
2. Architect: Unknown, however, the house located on the southeast side is of the same style and was built by Morris Wolf's brother, Emanuel, at approximately the same time.
3.Additional: The major addition to the house is the bay window located on the north corner. The evidence is this;
a. floor planks change from 2.5" to 5" where bay extension begins.
b. baseboards are jointed at this point.
c. on the exterior, where bay window meets the wall, the connection differs from other two bay windows.
Date of addition is unknown:
a. but the hardware on windows is the same as windows original to house.
b. the southeast rear gallery section beginning at the kitchen door was added to cover the cistern below.
c. partition walls 1,2,3,4,5 were added at time house was converted to apartments.
d. the door on the northwest side of the house was converted from a window. Joints in molding show this. Historical Events and Persons Connected with the Structure:
The builder of the house, Morris Wolf, was partner with Julius Freyhan and Company, suppliers of Plantation goods as well as boots, buggies, and coffins. Mr. Wolf and Mr. Freyhan both played an important part in the history of many lives in St Francisville, particularly when the time came after harvest to collect on credit debts. According to some, that's how the two acquired much of their land. Eventually, Morris and his brother took over the parish's banking business.
3. Sources of Information
St Francisville Tax Rolls, 1881
St Francisville Notarial Records:
Book "R" pg. 625
Book 37 pg. 153
Book 40 pg. 333
Book 42 pg. 293
Book 49 pg. 207
Book 49 pg. 390
PART II: ARCHITECTURAL INFORMATION
1. General Statement:
1. Architectural Character: The "Wolf - Schlesinger House" is an example of the Victorian style popular in the United States from 1870 to 1900.
2. Condition of Fabric: Fair
2. Description of Exterior:
Overall dimensions: The living portion of the house is 50' across the front and 70' along the side, including galleries on the front and rear of the house. The service extension connects to the main house at the southeast end of the rear gallery. The extension is 60' long and 21' wide, including the gallery. Both structures are one story, but the roof over the main structure is about half the total height.
Foundations: Brick piers.
Wall construction and color: Wood frame construction with 5" clapboard siding. The present color is white and paint samples show below this, a coat of light gray, one of dark gray, and the original color being yellow.
Structural system, framing: Cypress wood framing throughout.
a. Southwest side (front): Cast iron balcony rail with wooden handrail extends the length of the gallery. Flooring is 3.5" tongue and groove planks painted gray.
b. Northwest side (rear): No railing. Exterior siding is 5" clapboard, flooring is 3.5" tongue and groove planks, rotted through in places, the roof is of fairly recent vintage but in very poor condition.
c. Gallery across service extension: Flooring, sheathing, and ceiling are same as front gallery. No railing.
Type A: These wood framed windows extend from the floor and slide-into the wall above creating a "doorlike" opening onto the front gallery.
Type B: These are found in the extended bay areas and are double hung wood frame windows.
Type C: Differ from Type B only in proportion and location. Note: All windows are shuttered except on rear gallery and service extension. Shutters are wood painted blue. Hardware consists of hinges and catches.
3. Description of the Interior
1. Floor plans:
a. Main House; The house is entered through a small vestibule located at the front center of the house. Through the vestibule, on enters the main hall, off of which all other activities occur. The front of the house was probably the living area, with the living room and study area located to the left and right of the hall. The other two rooms opening to the side were probably bedrooms. The dining room is directly opposite the entry at the end of the hall. It was likely flanked on the left by a bedroom and on the right by some type of holding or service room which had easy access to the kitchen.
b. Service extension: The rear extension, arranged in a linear fashion, consists of a kitchen, storage, servants dressing, ironing and safe room.
2. Inventory of rooms: Rooms #3 on plan will be used as typical
a. Flooring: 2.5" cypress planks in good condition except bay windows
b. Baseboards: 10.5" wooden baseboards
c. Walls: Finished with plaster over wooden lathe, with the browncoat containing hair. The finish plaster is white. walls are covered with wallpaper. see attached
d. Ceiling: The ceiling is of the same lathe and plaster as the walls. NOTE: Only the main hall (rm. #2) and rm. #3 have plaster ceilings. All others have wood plank ceilings. All ceilings, however are covered with paper.
e. fireplaces: Brick construction with cast iron mantles. No foundry stamp was observed. Mantle in rm. 4 is missing and fireplace is crumbling. Mantle in rm. 7 is made of wood.
f. Doors and doorways: Painted hardwood with operable transoms above. Hardware consists of simple hinges, metal locks and either metal or enamel doorknobs. All doors are painted white. The doors opening into the main hall are double hardwood doors, unpainted, with frosted glass panels. Designs on the glass are particularly interesting. The hinges, locks, and doorknobs contain intricate detailing.
g. Special features:
Wainscoting is found in the dining room and the kitchen. It is approximately 36" off the floor and is of dark hardwood.
Medallions are located on the ceiling in the main hall and room 3. They are of painted plaster, predominantly red and green. Light fixtures hang from the centers of both plate.
h. attic: There are no finished surfaces in the attic. Measuring approximately 50' by 50' or 2500 sq. ft.
PART III: PROJECT INFORMATION
This report was compiled as part of the documentation of the "Wolf-Schlesinger House" undertaken by students of the Restoration Architecture Studio at Louisiana State University.
The project was supervised by instructor John H. Stubbs of the LSU faculty. Students who prepared measured drawings for the project were Harold Brumfield, Kurt Robertson, Jon Springer, and William Williams.
Prepared by Kurt D. Robertson, Project Historian 1974