2016 Sunset Report

OLG & DCRT Strategic Plan
2020-21 through 2024-25


Did you know?
Introduction Colonial History 1721-1788 19th Century History 1813-1892 Private Ownership to Public Trust 1892-1947 How Madame John's Legacy Got Its Name Table Of Ownership 1721-1947
Local color writer, George Washington Cable, penned many stories that explored the difficulties faced by Louisiana’s people of mixed racial heritage, and many of his plots revolved around the question of whether his light-skinned heroines were actually black or white. Such a question animates the plot of "‘Tite Poulette," a story Cable completed in 1873. While doing research in old newspapers Cable reported that he gained sympathy for the plight of quadroon and octoroon women, who, in antebellum New Orleans, sometimes became the mistresses of white men because marriage across the color line was illegal. An early advocate of integrated schools and public accommodations, Cable’s racial views were unpopular in the post-Reconstruction South. In 1884, he and his family moved to Northampton, Massachusetts.

George Washington Cable
Hand-colored photograph
unidentified photographer, ca. 1915

This photograph was taken of Cable and his dog outside his home in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Watercolors of Women of Color
Edouard Marquis, 1867, probably New Orleans
Like Cable’s stories written a decade later, Marquis’ images of women of color present them as sympathetic and complex subjects.

In the North, Cable’s stories were highly regarded and serialized in many magazines. Readers loved Cable’s lush descriptions of Louisiana but sometimes doubted their authenticity. Another local writer, Lafcadio Hearn, addressed this question in an 1883 Century Magazine article titled "The Scenes of Cable’s Romances." Hearn identified many of the sites about which Cable wrote including Madame John’s. His description and an illustration of the house that appeared in the article were less than flattering, yet the house was known as Madame John’s Legacy from this point on. Even local merchants capitalized on its popularity by making collectible goods that celebrated Madame John’s.

Description of Madame John’s from "The Scenes of Cable’s Romances"
Lafcadio Hearn, 1883
Reproduced from Century Magazine