64 Parishes

Zemurray Lodge and Gardens

This large, rambling house began as a one-and-half-story frame structure built as a retreat by lawyer, planter, and entrepreneur Alfred Hennen in 1829.

Zemurray Lodge and Gardens

This large, rambling house near Loranger, in Tangipahoa Parish, began as a one-and­a-half-story frame structure built in 1829 as a retreat by lawyer, planter, and entrepreneur Alfred Hennen. It had a central-hall plan, brick exterior chimneys at each end, and a pitched roof. When Hennen’s daughter and son-in-law, Cora and John Morris, inherited the property, it became known as the Morris Retreat and later Mount Hennen. In 1918 lumber magnates Charles H. and William L. Houlton purchased the property, renaming it Houltonwood. They already owned the former William Jay House and lumber company near Madisonville. In 1928, the Houltons sold Houltonwood to Samuel Zemurray, a Russian Jewish immigrant who had made his fortune importing bananas from Central America. Zemurray also had previously purchased a house from William Jay: a mansion on prestigious Audubon Place in New Orleans.

The major renovation and expansion begun by the Houltons was continued by the Zemurrays. New Orleans architect Moise Goldstein and interior designer George Gallup were responsible for this work. The changes included covering the exterior with stucco, adding concrete Doric columns that wrap around most of the house, enlarging the upper half-story with pent dormers, and adding a porte-cochere and a sleeping porch. The attached rustic log den, used for such recreations as gambling, was also renovated. Gallup’s superb Arts and Crafts interiors included a paneled staircase with four landings, high- paneled wainscoting, oak beams in the central hall, and painted foliate designs on the dining room’s upper walls and ceiling. It is likely that the two cottages and the stables were built at the same time. One further addition to the house is a small modernist annex designed by John Desmond in the 1950s.

Zemurray’s wife, Sarah, expanded the gardens to 171 acres; created the two-acre Mirror Lake, with its small island and bridge; installed replicas of classical statues; and, with horticulturist Howard Schilling, developed azalea-lined trails that bloom into a flamboyant blaze of color. Although the house is not open to the public, the gardens may be visited in the spring.

Adapted from Karen Kingsley’s Buildings of Louisiana, part of the Buildings of the United States series commissioned by the Society of Architectural Historians (www.sah.org) and published by Oxford University Press.