NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – A family is without a home after a historic mansion in the Garden District goes up in flames. WGNO’s Deepak Saini takes you to the scene where firefighters fought to save a rare gem.
Raging flames shoot out of a historic mansion with smoke billowing into the sky. Spectators take in the sight while friend and family comfort Ann Trufant, who made it out alive. The 130-year-old home at 1239 Philip has been in the family for five generations.
“There’s a lot of old family history in there but my grandmother got out and no one got hurt so it could be worse,” says Will Trufant.
Ruthie Winston was visiting her mother across the street when she noticed the smoke. She rushed into the mansion and saved some of the family’s prized portraits that date back to the 1700s.
“Being familiar with the house, I knew where they were. I couldn’t get the largest portrait of the ‘lady’ out because she was over a mantle and she was clipped on a ledge but my business partner came in with me, even though they didn’t want us to, and he ripped it off, including some plaster,” says Winston.
The fire wasn’t an easy fight. Flames could still be seen an hour and a half after firefighters arrived on the scene. Two firefighters suffered minor burns to their face and neck.
“The type of construction in a lot of these old buildings is balloon frame. That means it doesn’t have fire stops like a modern construction would have. So a fire can travel up those areas and spread rather easily,” says NOFD Chief Tim McConnell.
What wasn’t destroyed by the fire was soaked in water. While a part of history may be lost, the memories remain.
“The biggest treasure of that house is the lady of the house. She’s 87 and has a great spirit.”
The NOFD is still investigating the cause of the fire. The mansion was designed by famed architect Thomas Sully, who also designed the Columns Hotel on St. Charles Avenue.