Longue Vue House and Gardens
The Longue Vue House and Gardens are a beautiful eight-acre estate in New Orleans constructed in the mid 1930s to early 1940s. The house and the gardens were designed in tandem, creating a cohesive blend of architecture and landscaping in the style of an old English manor. Philanthropists Edgar and Edith Stern hired architects William and Geoffrey Platt to build a new house on their property and landscape architect Ellen Shipman Biddle to design expansive gardens around the house. Naturalist Caroline Dormon also cultivated wild plants in the Wild Garden. The estate is now on the National Register of Historic Places and is open to the public.
Backstory and Context
Longue Vue is a collaboration of Edgar and Edith Stern, William and Geoffrey Platt, and Ellen Biddle Shipman, who together created one of the finest and most well-preserved estates in New Orleans. It was owned by Edgar Stern, a businessman, and Edith Stern, a philanthropist and daughter of the Sears, Robuck and Company president. Both Edgar and Edith were civically minded and gave back to the city of New Orleans, helping establish Dillar University and the Flint-Goodridge Teaching Hospital, and passionate about the arts and social equality.
In the 1920s the Sterns purchased what would become the Longue Vue property, on which a Colonial Revival house originally sat. Once they acquired more land around the house, they hired Ellen Biddle Shipman to design their gardens in 1934, though the Sterns wished the house complemented the gardens’ beauty more effectively. Shipman, a successful landscape architect and horticulturalist based in New Hampshire, recommended that the Sterns hire architects William and Geoffrey Platt to design a new home. The original house was moved and the Platts constructed a home in the style of an English manor, surrounded by Shipman’s lush and beautifully-designed gardens. Shipman had worked closely with William and Geoffrey’s father, Charles A. Platt, as both were members of the Cornish Art Colony in New Hampshire. The Sterns named their estate Longue Vue after an inn where Edgar proposed to Edith.
Longue Vue was designed in the Country Place Era of architecture and landscape design, which emphasized sophistication and harkened back to classic European and Asian estates. The three-story house includes a basement (unusual for New Orleans) and twenty rooms decorated with antique furniture, art, and fine dinnerware. Those indoors can enjoy views of the garden from every window in the house, thanks to Shipman’s astute awareness of design. All plants, walkways, fountains, and walls were carefully placed in relation to one another and the house. Shipman collaborated with Caroline Dormon, an acclaimed naturalist, conservationist, and author, to cultivate native plants in the Wild Garden, the only one of Shipman’s Wild Gardens. Dormon also helped found the Kisatchie National Forest and the Caroline Dormon Nature Preserve in Briarwood, Louisiana, her hometown, is named in her honor.
Edith Stern spearheaded turning the estate into a museum in the 1970s. When she sought to make changes to the house to accommodate visitors, she hired the Platts as the architects. Longue Vue is open to the public every day of the week and offers tours of the house and garden. In addition, there are a number of educational programs, including summer camps for children, toddler programs, Gardens Education, Historic House Education, and more. The house allows people to host events and view many of the public rooms and gardens.
"Caroline Dormon." History. Longue Vue House and Gardens. Accessed March 2018. https://longuevue.com/about/history/dormon/
“Country Place Era Garden.” Cultural Landscape Foundation. Accessed March 2018. https://tclf.org/category/designed-landscape-types/garden-and-estate/country-place-era-garden
"Edith and Edgar Stern." History. Longue Vue House and Gardens. Accessed March 2018. https://longuevue.com/about/history/stern/
"Ellen Biddle Shipman."
History. Longue Vue House and Gardens. Accessed March 2018. https://longuevue.com/about/history/shipman/
"History." Longue Vue House and
Gardens. Accessed March 2018. https://longuevue.com/about/history/
"Learn." Longue Vue House and Gardens. Accessed March 2018. https://longuevue.com/learn
"William and Geoffrey Platt."
History. Longue Vue House and
Gardens. Accessed March 2018. https://longuevue.com/about/history/platt/
National Park Service. "Longue Vue House and Gardens." National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination Form. Prepared by National Register Staff and Longue Vue House and Gardens. https://npgallery.nps.gov/pdfhost/docs/NRHP/Text/91001419.pdf
“Spanish Court at Longue Vue.” Photo. Longue Vue House and Gardens. 2013. Wikimedia Commons. Accessed March 2018. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Longue_Vue_House_%26_Gardens#/media/File:Spanish_Court_at_Longue_Vue_House_and_Gardens.JPG
“Ellen Biddle Shipman.” Photo. Wikimedia Commons. Accessed March 2018. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ellen_Biddle_Shipman#/media/File:E._Shipman_1820.jpg
“Caroline Dormon holding a flower.” Photo. Wikimedia Commons. Accessed March 2018. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Caroline_Dormon_holding_a_flower.jpg