La Casa de Castille at 1527 Harmony St. in the Garden District

This listing at 1527 Harmony St. in the Garden District is a rare opportunity to live in one of the most historic and memorable homes in New Orleans. Not only that, but it is absolutely huge at 13,292 square feet and magnificently laid out as well.

“Some people remember it as the Westminster Presbyterian Church, built in the

1920s as a house of worship for a historic congregation started in the 1830s, because the house is filled with plaques commemorating the contributions of their followers” said Britt Galloway, the listing agent with Keller Williams Realtors. “But, most people will remember it as the Ballet Hysell, which was led by its legendary Maestro Harvey Hysell.”

Hysell lived in two apartments and used the main place of worship as a dance studio which was visited by ballet notables like Mikhail Baryshnikov. Each Halloween, Hysell would host a Masquerade Ball and each Christmas, a performance of The Nutcracker.

“In 1999, we purchased the building and began a massive renovation to make it our home, including replacing all its electrical, heating/cooling and plumbing systems,” explained Sandra Castille McNamara, the current owner. “We added new structures, relocated the elevator shaft, closed in the front yard and added an amazing living green roof – currently the largest in New Orleans.”

After its stint as a church and a ballet school, this building was converted to residential use starting around 2000, with the owners’ quarters taking up more than 9,800 square feet. The sanctuary became a great room with 26-foot ceilings and massive arched windows. The altar is now the dining area and the master suite is in the third-floor-choir loft. Original features include hardwood floors, columns and molding throughout.

The owners’ quarters have a sitting room, an office with exposed beam ceilings and plenty of storage. There are three one-bedroom apartments with entrances on the side street and they too have some original woodwork, molding and columns.

“The structure has a green or living roof, planted with grass,” said Galloway, “that serves as a yard with views over downtown.”

The Garden District, where this listing is located, is characterized by sidewalks bordered with leafy trees shading Greek Revival and Italianate mansions set back from the sidewalk behind ornamental fences of wood or cast iron. There are also plenty of singles, doubles and cottages which are excellent examples of late-19th-century shotgun houses.

This neighborhood was first laid out in 1809 by the surveyor Barthelemy Lafon and is bounded roughly by Jackson and St. Charles avenues and Prytania, Erato and Chippewa streets.

Initial development of the Garden District was spurred by the construction of the New Orleans and Carrollton railroads in 1833, when many substantial plantation-style houses –– most of which were two stories –– were constructed by such noted local architects as Henry Howard, Lewis Reynolds, James and William Freret and James Gallier Sr. and Jr.

The neighborhood further developed during the 1840s, ‘50s and ‘60s, and this later development saw Greek Revival and Italianate villas under construction beside the large plantation homes that were still standing from an earlier era. Many of the Garden District’s houses have large, lush gardens with plenty of mature trees.

Commercial uses were interspersed with residential, as was the custom of the Creoles, and many retail shops still exist side-by-side with the homes today. Along Magazine Street, especially in the 1800 through the 2000 blocks, there is a fine collection of masonry commercial buildings built in rows, one adjacent to another. A number have deep galleries supported by iron columns. The Garden District is on the National Register of Historic Places.

This residence, a converted 1927 Spanish Baroque design, is a half-block off St. Charles Avenue on a broad oak tree-lined street fronted with mansions and historic hotels. The Central Business District and the French Quarter are just a couple of miles away.

Angela Carll may be reached at or 504-947-6575

About this House

Address: 1527 Harmony St.

Living area: 13,292 square feet

Bedrooms: Six

Baths: Six full/two half

Price: $2,500,000


There are three one-bedroom

furnished apartments that provide

$3,275 monthly revenue

Marketing agent:

Britt Galloway

Keller Williams Realty New Orleans



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