The Dolliole Family: Builders, Architects, Patriots, and Community Leaders

Free people of color were instrumental in the creation of the ironworks and architecture that you see while walking throughout the French Quarter. The census of 1820 lists 1319 free people of color employed in manufacture, almost equal to the number of free white people working in the industry. Jean-Louis Dolliole, a free man of color, was well-known for his rendition of the “creole cottage,” employing traditionally Spanish architectural design mixed with his unique spin on French colonial building techniques using local materials. His two most famous creations on Pauger and Saint Philip Streets serve as contemporary reminders of his lasting influence. Ultimately, however, his legacy demonstrates the significant role that many free people of color played in the social fabric of antebellum New Orleans, despite the increasing restrictions on their freedom.

In 1853, Jean-Louis owned 7 properties and died with and estate of $13,959 (modern equivalent is $434,285). Although much of the Dolliole family’s history is buried in long-neglected bills of sale and estate inventories, the Dollioles made a name for themselves as civic leaders and savvy businesspeople integral to the development of their New Orleans community. The Dollioles owned at least 36 properties in New Orleans and built over a dozen.

Jean-Louis’ father, Louis Dolliole immigrated to Spanish Louisiana from Provence, France in the 1760s. Upon arrival, he initiated a romantic partnership with free woman of color, Genevieve Larronde. Genevieve “Mamie” Larronde, whose birth went undocumented, appears in many more records as an independent matriarch, citizen, and businesswoman. Per her death record, Larronde lived to be 91 years old, marking her birth year around 1745. Due to lack of documentation, it is ambiguous whether Genevieve was born free or manumitted. During the Spanish era (1763-1800), the practice of coartación, or self-manumission was legal. Enslaved persons could purchase their own freedom, if they were able to raise enough money through side-work. Often on Sunday, their day off, enslaved New Orleanians would take on extra jobs for free people who would pay them a small sum. If their owners didn't agree to a reasonable price, they could sue them. Even owner-initiated manumission during Spanish rule required less paperwork and hoop-jumping. Thus, more people born into slavery in Louisiana during the second half of the 18th century were likely to become free through legal means.

Genevieve Larronde entered her partnership with Jean-Louis’ father with three daughters, to whom she bequeathed some of her property upon her death in 1838. Louis and Genevieve also had four children, but Jean-Louis came to be the most renowned and prolific of the Dolliole builders. Jean-Louis both owned and built the vast majority of the family’s properties in the Faubourg Tremé and French Quarter neighborhoods.

As a young man, Jean-Louis and his brothers and cousins, joined the Louisiana militia battalion for free men of color. Because he came of age under Spanish dominion and remained loyal to the Louisiana armed forces, Jean-Louis served under Spanish, French, and American leadership, serving valiantly as a private in Fortier’s Battalion in the 1815 Battle of New Orleans. By 1815, the free black militia, instrumental to the territory’s defense and safety during the 18th century, had been disbanded by the government. Mounting fears of insurrection after the Haitian Revolution, a near revolt at Pointe Coupee, the interrupted slave revolt in 1811 on the German Coast, and the influx of enslaved and free black people had seized the whites in power enough to take away the weapons of the politically and socially active black militia. In times of crisis, however, such as during the Battle of New Orleans, they were reinstated.

His mother, Genevieve, bought the family home at 933 Saint Philip Street in 1794. The family lived there for over 50 years, during which time the title shifted back and forth between Genevieve and Louis. The Dollioles built more houses on acquired land next to their Saint Philip home to accommodate their children as they got older and married. Ultimately, Jean-Louis bought or inherited all the family’s St. Philip properties. He married twice and had a total of seven children.

Unlike some families of color at the time, the Dollioles were able to circumvent the 1808 and 1825 Civil Codes barring illegitimate children and life partners from inheriting over one-third of an estate. Through intervivos donations and strategic property sales, the Dollioles kept both moveable and immoveable property within the family generation after generation. Not only did the Dolliole men financially support each other and their kin, they also legally represented each other, their relations, and their friends. Pierre gave his brother Jean-Louis power of attorney of his estate in anticipation of his passing, and Jean-Louis spoke on behalf of his siblings after the death of their mother. Ursain Guesnon was a fellow builder and friend of the Dollioles who appointed Jean-Louis executor of his estate upon his death in 1843. In a Louisiana Supreme Court case in 1846, Jean-Louis stood as executor for the deceased Joseph Priesto during a suit for the freedom of Priesto’s slave. Jean-Louis died at the age of 82 from chronic cystitis at his house on Bayou Road and is buried in his father’s tomb at St. Louis Cemetery #1.

Images

Commemorative Plaque on Jean-Louis Dolliole's 1440 Pauger St. Creole cottage

Commemorative Plaque on Jean-Louis Dolliole's 1440 Pauger St. Creole cottage

Creator: City of New Orleans View File Details Page

1440 Pauger Street

1440 Pauger Street

One of Jean-Louis Dolliole™s true masterpieces, this house, built in 1819 or 1820 on the corner of Pauger Street where it now meets Bourbon Street, employs the Spanish colonial architecture of flat, sloped tile roofs for which Dolliole was famous. Art historians and scholars of architecture hold this cottage in high regard as landmark of early New Orleans architecture. View File Details Page

1440 Pauger Street

1440 Pauger Street

View File Details Page

933 St. Philip Street

933 St. Philip Street

Genevieve Larronde originally bought this home under her maiden name in 1794. Until Jean-Louis bought the land from his father, Louis, in 1804, the title shifted back and forth between Genevieve and Louis several times. Jean-Louis Dollile lived in this house with his first wife Hortense Dussau and three children. Between 1820 and 1854 Dolliole lived in the house with his second wife Marie Eugenie Bodin and their four children. The home, restored and still standing today, servers as a beautiful memory of the variations in architecture that New Orleans encompasses. View File Details Page

933 St. Philip Street

933 St. Philip Street

View File Details Page

1808 Map of New Orleans

1808 Map of New Orleans

The Dolliole homes (five) were all located near the corner of St. Philip and Bourgogne Streets. One of which was Jean-Louis Dolliole™s famous cottage at 933 St. Philip Street. | Source: Vieux Carre Survey | Creator: Joseph Pilie View File Details Page

The Dolliole Land

The Dolliole Land

Outlined in purple are four out of the five plots of land the Dollioles owned on St. Philip street. | Source: Vieux Carre Survey | Creator: Joseph Pilie View File Details Page

Mathilde Dolliole's Baptism

Mathilde Dolliole's Baptism

Matilde (Mathilde) Dolliole was born on December 6, 1809 to Jean Louis (Juan Luis) Dolliole and Constanza (Hortense) Dussueau and baptized on January 13, 1810 at Saint Louis Cathedral. Her godfather was Louis (Luis) Dolliole and her godmother was Rosas Duverges. (SLC, B23, 39) | Source: Archdiocese of New Orleans View File Details Page

Petition for Inventory for the estate of Louis Dolliole

Petition for Inventory for the estate of Louis Dolliole

Source: Petition for Inventory for the estate of Louis Dolliole, notary Carlile Pollock, volume 8, 9 Feb 1822. Courtesy of Dale N. Atkins, Clerk of Civil District Court, Parish of Orleans. View File Details Page

Signatures on the Louis Dolliole's Estate Inventory

Signatures on the Louis Dolliole's Estate Inventory

Signed by: Jean-Louis Dolliole Madeleine Dolliole Joseph Dolliole Joseph Aicard Genevieve Dolliole (mark) Others | Source: Inventory for the estate of Louis Dolliole, notary Carlile Pollock, volume 8, 22 Feb 1822. Courtesy of Dale N. Atkins, Clerk of Civil District Court, Parish of Orleans. View File Details Page

Succession of Genevieve Dolliole

Succession of Genevieve Dolliole

This page is part of the document containing Genevieve Dolliole's succession, statement of account, vouchers, recapitulation, partition, and acquittance. | Source: Succession of Genevieve Dolliole, notary Carlile Pollock, volume 62, 24 July 1840. Courtesy of Dale N. Atkins, Clerk of Civil District Court, Parish of Orleans. View File Details Page

Genevieve Dolliole Statement of Account

Genevieve Dolliole Statement of Account

Source: Succession of Genevieve Dolliole, notary Carlile Pollock, volume 62, 24 July 1840. Courtesy of Dale N. Atkins, Clerk of Civil District Court, Parish of Orleans. View File Details Page

Genevieve Dolliole Statement of Account

Genevieve Dolliole Statement of Account

Source: Succession of Genevieve Dolliole, notary Carlile Pollock, volume 62, 24 July 1840. Courtesy of Dale N. Atkins, Clerk of Civil District Court, Parish of Orleans. View File Details Page

Genevieve Dolliole Statement of Account and Acquittance

Genevieve Dolliole Statement of Account and Acquittance

Source: Succession of Genevieve Dolliole, notary Carlile Pollock, volume 62, 24 July 1840. Courtesy of Dale N. Atkins, Clerk of Civil District Court, Parish of Orleans. View File Details Page

Signatures for the Succession of Genevieve Dolliole

Signatures for the Succession of Genevieve Dolliole

Signed: Joseph Dolliole Jean-Louis Dolliole Louis Drausin Dolliole Gallaud Nicola Antoine Marie Francoise Dolliole (mark) H. Lucas Others | Source: Succession of Genevieve Dolliole, notary Carlile Pollock, volume 62, 24 July 1840. Courtesy of Dale N. Atkins, Clerk of Civil District Court, Parish of Orleans. View File Details Page

Street Address:

933 St. Philip Street [map]

Cite this Page:

Leah Saffir and Kate Mason, “The Dolliole Family: Builders, Architects, Patriots, and Community Leaders,” New Orleans Historical, accessed May 28, 2017, http://neworleanshistorical.org/items/show/1324.
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