After taking the day off from riding yesterday (I was sore from chasing the streetcar up St. Charles the previous evening), I was itching to get on the bike today. It rained today and, surprisingly, this cooled things down a bit, so when I finally headed down to the Marigny for coffee and books, I was treated to a relatively cool ride. I passed this place on my way down and actually turned around to go by it a second time. The Van Benthuysen-Elms Mansion was hosting some sort of garden party tonight and had these vast plastic houses set up in the sprawling yard. The things were even hooked up to an air conditioning system. I can’t afford to cool my house below 85 degrees, but these folks are turning on the air in their people-greenhouses.
The thing with New Orleans, though, is that everything is always already in the process of decay, even the fancy mansions. I turned up a side street out of disgust for the Avenue, thinking I’d take Carondolet to Bourbon, and noticed this wall on the side of the Van Benthuysen-Elms. It is listing heavily and there’s a deep crack up the middle of the second pane. These safety cones might keep me from leaning against the wall and pushing it over, but I don’t know that they have any special pull with gravity, vines, or tree roots. Thing is, no matter how rich your are or how big your mansion, the weather and the flora here will get you in the end. Difference is, I have a feeling the Elm family won’t have to wait for money from Road Home to rebuild. Of course, if that happens, they can always live in their air conditioned lawn bubbles.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
All is in decay..
This is a sad story. We own a portrait of a man circa 1830. His name is Charles Van Benthuysen. What we know about him is that he is from a publishing family from Albany, New York. The few details we’ve learned is that he may have had an early and possibly painful death. We would love to learn more about him and is life. If you feel there is a connection, we would be happy and grateful to hear from you. Sincerely, Joe and Kathi Schwartz, Wisconsin