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Blake Pontchartrain: The Fink Asylum and The Delachaise house

A brief history of an Uptown plantation

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Hey Blake,

I live in the Beaucaire Condo Association near Touro Infirmary. Is it true there was an "old maidens' home" or something else there before the property was turned into condos?

Tim

Dear Tim,

  You'll find historic architecture on almost every corner in that neighborhood. The area bordered by Camp, Chestnut, Amelia and Antonine streets has a story that begins just after the Civil War.

  The Italianate-style villa at 3643 Camp St. was built in 1866 for Henry David Rice, who imported hardware and stoves. The land once was part of the Delachaise Plantation. In 1875, the city acquired the house and it became the Fink Asylum, a home for Protestant widows and orphans. The money for the home came from the estate of John David Fink, a German immigrant described in The Picayune's Guide to New Orleans as a "wealthy but eccentric gentleman" whose will set aside a portion of his fortune for such a home.

  In its early years, the Fink Asylum cared for about 45 women and children. Several additions were made to the property to accommodate more residents, including large brick dormitory wings at the rear of the original home. In 1966, the name was changed to The Delachaise, a facility caring for elderly women. It closed in 1973. According to a 1976 Times-Picayune article, several of the residents moved to Poydras Home, which dedicated a John David Fink Memorial Wing with funds from The Delachaise trustees.

  The property then was divided into two parcels. Judge David Williams and his wife purchased the original Camp Street home and their restoration of it was honored by the Historic District Landmarks Commission. The house since has been sold to different owners. In 1978 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places and the rear section of the property became a condominium development.

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