The Hermann-Grima House is located in the French Quarter of New Orleans. In 1831, German-born commodities broker Samuel Hermann hired Virginian William Brand to build it. While Brand's name appears on the contract, the actual construction of the house was completed by at least forty enslaved men hired by Brand. These men built not only the main home but the adjacent slave quarters on the property. Now a historic house museum, Hermann’s former home boasts the largest single-family living space in the French Quarter.
By 1830, the decade in which this home was built, the population of enslaved people represented one third of the entire city of New Orleans. In fact, were it not for the booming slave market in 19th-century New Orleans, neither Hermann, nor the house’s next owner, wealthy notary and judge Félix Grima, would have had such an illustrious career or fortune to build the house you are looking at now.
As a notary, Grima spent day after day witnessing and documenting the sales of enslaved people. All enslaved persons in New Orleans were considered “immovable property” meaning that their sales had to be notarized, like real estate. With sales and markets scattered across the city, Grima profited directly off these sales. Grima also owned dozens of enslaved people throughout his life, many of whom were inherited from his family. As the largest former home in the French Quarter, then, we should also remember the lives of the enslaved people who built, lived, and worked on the larger property.
Visit the next stop on this tour to learn more about one particular family of enslaved people who once lived in the Hermann-Grima house until gaining their freedom and a home of their own just a few blocks away on 727-729 Burgundy Street.