The Collins C. Diboll Vieux Carré Survey - a project of The Historic New Orleans Collection      Navigating and Searching

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This guide is intended to help researchers understand and navigate their way through the Collins C. Diboll Vieux Carré Digital Survey.  In digitizing the survey, the Vieux Carré Survey staff strove to stay true to the original (See History of the Survey for more details), but we also made every effort to correct factual errors and inconsistencies in the recording and compiling of data.

ABBREVIATIONS

AGI = Archivo General de Indias (Seville, Spain)
ANOM (formerly CAOM) = Archives nationales d'outre-mer (Aix-en-Provence, Fr.)
b.b. = bounded by (as in "Square b.b. Conti, Royal, St. Louis and Bourbon streets")
b.p.l. = Between parallel lines
b.e.p.l. = Between equal and parallel lines
COB = Conveyance Office Book (as in "COB Vol. 123/pg. 567")
F.M. = French Measure; A.M. = American Measure
f.m.c. = Free man of color (French: h.c.l. = homme de couleur libre)
f.w.c. = Free woman of color (French: f.c.l. = femme de couleur libre)
HABS = Historic American Buildings Survey (Library of Congress holdings)
HDLC = Historic District Landmarks Commission (City regulatory agency)


LOC = Library of Congress
LSM = Louisiana State Museum
MOB = Mortgage Office Book (like "COB")
N.A. = Notarial Archives (as in "N.A. [No.] 12345")
NONA = New Orleans Notarial Archives (former State, now City agency)
NOPL = New Orleans Public Library (Main Branch)
N.P. = notary public
THNOC = The Historic New Orleans Collection
TSA = Tulane School of Architecture
VCC = Vieux Carré Commission (City regulatory agency)
VCS = Vieux Carré Survey

Search results are presented on tabbed pages, titled “Places,”  “Owners,” “Citations,” and “Images”:

Places is a list of properties; clicking on the lot number will open the property record.

Owners is a list of property owners and/or their legal representatives.  Clicking on the name’s  link will bring up a list of properties that name is associated with in the Survey.

Citations is a list of quotes compiled from newspaper articles, letters, books, legal documents, etc.   Clicking on the address will open the property record associated with the citation.

Images displays images related to the search term. Click on the link provided to open the property record associated with the image.

The information on individual properties is divided among three tabbed pages titled, “Property Info,” “Chain of Title,” and “Citations (specific to this address).”

Property Info displays basic information on the property such as square and lot numbers, property dimensions, building materials and its Vieux Carré Commission evaluation. To provide context for an individual property, maps, plans, photographs, and other materials specific to the property, the block and the square in which the property is located are presented within slide displays on the page.
Chain of title provides a history of the property’s ownership as far as it has been researched by survey staff.
Citations (specific to this address) provides quotes from newspaper articles, letters, books, legal documents etc., compiled by survey staff.

Property Owners & Name Searches

When searching for a personal name, enter the first name first, last name last (e.g., John Smith), without punctuation.

When using the advanced search form to search on a name, only those records where the name appears in the chain of title will be returned.

Entering a name in the search box on the home page will return records where the name appears in multiple places within the property record: chain of title, citation, property description, etc.

Renters and lessees are not generally found in the database, only owners of property and their agents. For information on renters and lessees, consult New Orleans City Directories.

Individual Property Addresses

Street addresses are subject to change, and for this reason you should use care and not depend solely on a street address.  Keep in mind, too, that buildings may carry a range of municipal street numbers (e.g. 400-408 Chartres St.).

New owners of corner properties sometimes changed the primary street address from one fronting street to the other.  Corner properties may therefore be searched by either address.

Properties can be searched using any address assigned to the property since the 1960s.

Addresses given on the color-coded square maps and the Bohlke elevation sketches are very often incorrect, while those on Sanborn Insurance Maps (1876, 1896) and Robinson Atlas Maps (1883) are generally reliable for the years when they were created (see Street name and number changes, below).

ARCHITECTURAL COLOR-CODING

Vieux Carré Commission Evaluations:

The VCC color-coded square maps are based on the color-coded VCC architectural evaluations of the 1960s and early 1970s.

VCC Evaluation Color Code

PurpleOf national architectural or historical importance
BlueOf major architectural or historical importance
GreenOf local architectural or historical importance
PinkOf local or major architectural or historical importance that has been detrimentally altered but if properly restored, could be upgraded to Blue or Green.
YellowContributes to the character of the district
OrangeTwentieth-century building
BrownObjectionable or of no architectural importance
////// Substantial remains or site of a building of known architectural importance.

Prior to 1988 the VCC used a color-coding system that included striping (a building color coded Yellow with Green stripes, for example, indicated a property that, with proper restoration, could be upgraded from Yellow to Green). After 1988, the rating Pink replaced striping to indicate buildings that could be upgraded to Blue or Green.

Ratings were updated in the late 1970s and 1980s.  For the most recent VCC ratings, please see the written evaluations found on the “Property Info” page for each lot and the two VCC color coded maps.

The Historic District Landmarks Commission Evaluations
The squares that border Canal Street (squares 1, 2, 5, 31, 32, 33, 34, 65, 67, 94 and 95) are not part of the Vieux Carré Historic District monitored by the VCC , and therefore the hand-colored maps for these squares do not represent official VCC ratings. These squares are instead the province of the Historic District Landmarks Commission, which has its own color-coding system, similar to that of the VCC. Please note the differences when referencing the HDLC Canal Street District Map.

HDLC Evaluation Color Code       

PurpleOf national importance
BlueOf major architectural importance
GreenOf architectural or historic importance
RedImportant building that has been altered
GoldContributes to the scene
Grey/BlackUnrated

This HDLC color rating corresponds to the map found on the French Quarter Map Resources page, which was used in this survey.  In 2011 the HDLC changed to a three tier code: Significant (Purple, Blue), Contributing (Green, Red, Gold), and Noncontributing (Grey, Black). For more information on this change visit the HDLC pages on the City of New Orleans website.

Building Materials
To indicate building materials, the survey uses a four-color code based on the Sanborn Insurance Maps of ca. 1935.

Building Material Color Code

RedMasonry, including bricks-between-posts (for Colonial and many Antebellum structures), solid brick, surfaced brick, granite, marble.
YellowWood
BlueIron
GreenFrame special.

Houses with brick-between-post walls whose street faces are clad in weatherboards are usually coded yellow for wood.  Houses with brick-between-post walls with plastered street facades are coded red for masonry (even if the side and back facades are clad in weatherboards).

 

CHAINS of TITLE

Completeness:
Many chains of title in the survey only extend from the early American period (ca. 1803) to 1982.

References to French and Spanish colonial acts of sale for some properties are found within the citations.  Researchers wishing to access the original French and Spanish notarial acts may find them at the New Orleans Notarial Archives and at the Louisiana Historical Center, located in the Louisiana State Museum’s Old U.S. Mint.

From 1982 to the present, THNOC staff collected clippings from the Times-Picayune’s real estate listings and entered them into the survey.  They may be useful but are not considered official.  The dates provided are the newspapers’ print dates, not the dates of the acts of sale.  All chains of title are currently being updated using official notarial acts.

Content
Though the chains of title follow the general model of a legal chain of title, the historical chains of title abstracted by VCS staff sometimes give citations to things not included in a legal chain of title, such as building contracts, maps and plans (especially from the 18th century), books, and magazine and newspaper articles.

In creating the abstracted chains of title, the original compilers of the survey generally used the Conveyance Office Books – the de facto indices for the acts housed at the New Orleans Notarial Archives – rather than the original notarial acts and legal judgments.  As a result, the dates most commonly provided are not the dates of the actual notarial acts or court rulings but the dates they were recorded by the Conveyance Office.  This “COB” date may be much later than the actual date of the legal instrument.  When the actual act or court date is cited by the survey, it appears in the site’s chain of title listings as the “Authority Date.”

Please note that VCS staff did not always include property prices in the abstracted acts of sale.

CITATIONS

Citations include quotes from newspaper articles, letters, books, legal documents, etc. that survey staff discovered in the course of their work. Though some building contracts have been entered into the chains of title, most are listed as Citations.

Where no date was available for a citation, VCS staff did its best to estimate the date of publication.
For published works, the year provided has been verified.

Please note the that the 19th century bilingual (French & English) newspaper, Le Courrier de la Louisiane is referenced in the survey by several names, “Le Courrier,” “Le Courier”, “The Courier,” “Louisiana Courier” and” LA Courier” to list a few.

FREE PEOPLE OF COLOR

Pre-Civil War chains of title generally indicate parties who were free men or women of color, but race was not always noted.  Existing information was included in the database and “free people of color” was made a search operator.  However, a search on this term will not yield a complete count of all free people of color who have owned property within the confines of the survey.

IMAGE CREDITS

When known, proper credit has been provided for images, but a small number of photographs and other images within the original survey did not credit a rights-holder, repository or creator.  We have done our best to locate this information, and we ask that, if you know the provenance of an uncredited image, to please contact us.

SQUARE NUMBERS

The numbers assigned to squares (or city blocks) in the survey come from the city of New Orleans’s Department of Property Management.  These numbers have remained unchanged for the blocks north of Decatur Street.

Most of the property between the Mississippi River and Decatur Street lies on the original batture (the batture is the land between the river and levee; the levee was originally located along Decatur Street). The land area of the batture increased over the centuries, and it has routinely been used for commercial purposes.  Sheds, warehouses, parks and factories were built and razed, and the configuration and number of batture squares constantly changed.

This survey uses the batture square numbers that most accurately reflect the City’s most recent records.  In some cases, a previous designation has been retained as well because the official numbers assigned by the city have changed frequently over the years. Please note any differences between official city square numbers and those used in this database.

When searching by square number, please use the Advanced Search form, which includes a pull-down menu and interactive map.

STREET NAME and NUMBER CHANGES

Some street names in the French Quarter have changed over time, as have street numbers (the City of New Orleans adopted its current street numbering system in 1894). When using a citation that references an old street name and/or a pre-1894 street number, consult older plans and maps of the Vieux Carré or use the Index to Street Name Changes on the website of the New Orleans Public Library to determine the current street name and/or number.

SURVEYORS' MEASURE

During the 18th and 19th centuries, many New Orleans surveyors used the French system of measurement—“pieds” for feet, “pouces” for inches, and “lignes” for lines—when surveying property. (The French foot is slightly longer than the English foot, at close to 13 inches.) The old French system was used until the Civil War; plans and surveys often indicate whether the surveyor is using French measure (F.M.) or imperial measure (noted as A.M. for American measure).

This project was made possible in part through the generous financial support of the Collins C. Diboll Private Foundation.
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