In April 1814, Mayor Nicolas Girod was serving his first term as mayor of New Orleans when his brother, Clause Francois, died and left him a lot on the corner of Chartres and St. Louis Streets. When he received this plot, he began to build a grand home, a three-and-a-half story townhouse with room for a business and residence.
On May 4, 1814 Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled to the island of Elba. A popular New Orleans legend suggests that once Mayor Girod and a few other Bonaparte supporters heard about the exile they devised a plot to rescue the Emperor. It is believed that Jean Lafitte, Captain St. Ange Bossiere, and Dominique You were all involved in the plot. The plan was to rescue Napoleon from his exile and bring him to New Orleans to live out his remaining years at the Girod Home. 1815 proved to be a bad year for the Mayor and Bonaparte. On September 4th, one year into his second term, Girod resigned as Mayor due to financial troubles. The people of New Orleans then learned that Napoleon escaped the island of Elba on March 1, 1815, but was recaptured and sent to Ste. Helene in exile. Before the Grod and the other Napoleon supporters could execute their supposed plot, Bonaparte died in captivity on May 5, 1821.
Nicholas Girod did not have any children but his extended family lived in the house through the nineteenth century. In the early 1900's the property was owned by a few different people and it eventually became a grocery store.
In 1914, Joseph Impastato started renting the building for $20 a month. He ran a grocery store on the bottom floor while living with his brothers and sisters in the upstairs quarters. In 1920, Joseph bought the property for $14,000. Along with the grocery store, Joseph opened a tavern, which seemed to be favorable to the river workers and local businessmen, serving drinks and playing opera and classical music from his Victrola.  Sometime around the end of Prohibition they changed the establishment's name to "Napoleon House." Through the years the property has been owned by a few different members of the Impastato family and remained in the family until 2015 when it was purchased by restaurateur Ralph Brennan. Napoleon House continues to be one of the most famous bars in the nation.
In 1970, Napoleon House was recognized as a National Historic Landmark. It is one of the best examples of a large French colonial townhouse in the country, with a hipped roof, dormers, segmental pediments, an octagonal cupola with views of the river, shallow balconies and elliptical windows.