In 1830, the moment in time Mr. Hopkins is fond of using for many of his creations, free Creoles of color in New Orleans owned some $15 million of property in the city. Mostly French speaking, these artisans, shopkeepers and artists were in no small part responsible for the look of the French Quarter — its ironwork, decorative plaster, its architecture and fashionable shops. Like white Creoles, some owned slaves, and some later fought for the Confederacy. Despite many laws restricting their rights they played a significant role in civic life.
…Creole is a long-embattled term, perhaps best defined now as a person whose background and identity is traceable to colonial French Louisiana and/or its Franco-African culture.
…The city of New Orleans historically demanded detailed inventories of the possessions of deceased citizens, and he studied these lists to ground his rooms, from their locally made armoires and Campeche chairs to neo-Classical French porcelain and wall clocks. The furniture is as important as the people, whether it appears in the cottage of the powerful voodoo queen Marie Laveau or in the salon of John James Audubon, the white Creole naturalist renowned for his “Birds of America.”