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Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings

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Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings

National Historic Landmark THE CABILDO

Orleans Parish, 709 Chartres Street, on Jackson Square, New Orleans.

Ownership and Administration. State of Louisiana; Louisiana State Museum.

Significance. This building, also known as the Casa Capitular, was erected in 1795, on the site of two former buildings that had been destroyed by fire, to house the Cabildo of Spanish Louisiana, the legislative and administrative council for the province. Two ceremonies within a period of 3 weeks—November 30 and December 20, 1803—were particularly notable in the Cabildo's history. In the first, Louisiana Territory passed to French rule after having been under Spanish control for 40 years. During the brief period of French rule, the building was called the Maison de Ville (Town Hall). In the second ceremony, the transfer of sovereignty of Louisiana Territory from France to the United States took place. For the next century the Cabildo continued to provide public offices, but in 1911 it became the Louisiana State Museum. It is a Registered National Historic Landmark relating primarily to Spanish exploration and settlement.

The Cabildo
The Cabildo, or Casa Capitular, demonstrates Spanish architectural influence in Louisiana. Constructed in 1795, it housed the Cabildo, the legislative and administrative council for the province of Spanish Louisiana. Courtesy, New Orleans Chamber of Commerce.

Present Appearance. The architectural historian Hugh Morrison has commented that the Cabildo, composed of "a full panoply of Renaissance architectural forms" shows the "most markedly Spanish influence in Louisiana." It is a massive structure of stuccoed brick. Alterations in the 1850's included the addition of a third floor, which has a steep-sided mansard roof. The museum of the Cabildo is open to the public.

NHL Designation: 10/09/60

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Last Updated: 29-Aug-2005