NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — WGNO is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, and New Orleans has a Hispanic gem right here in the French Quarter.
Sitting with sophistication on Jackson Square with St. Louis Cathedral as its neighbor, the building with as much history as any in America — it’s the Cabildo.
“Cabildo” is a Spanish word that means “town hall.”
“In the case of Louisiana, it was a much larger area because all of Louisiana was actually administered from this building,” said Bob Freeland.
Spain is everywhere in the Cabildo, and nobody knows it like Freeland.
He is your tour guide at his favorite American address for Spanish history.
A Spanish canon at the Cabildo? What makes it Spanish?
“Well, the Spanish would have used this in the Colonial period to defend the forts against enemies attacking Louisiana,” Freeland said.
In the late 1700s, the Cabildo was built to be the headquarters here for Spain. The country that owned a colony called “Louisiana.”
“The courts, the military. We even had a library here,” said Interim Director Susan Maclay.
The Cabildo is now a Louisiana State Museum.
What makes the building such a big, Spanish deal?
“It’s where everything happened,” said Maclay.
“This is Adres Almonaster y Rojas. He was a Spaniard and the richest man in Louisiana when he financed the building of the Cabildo,” said Freeland.
And he was the father of Micaela Almonaster.
“She married Baron de Pontalba,” said Freeland.
It was Baroness de Pontalba who built the Pontalba apartments right across the street from the Cabildo.
“She was one of the richest women in Louisiana at the time,” said Freeland.
And she was shot two times by her father-in-law.
“Two bullets hit her in the chest, and she recovered to come back to New Orleans,” said Freeland.
Drama at the Pontalba from the beginning.
Through the fire, in fact, two fires, and more than 200 years, the Cabildo still stands. World-class in the French Quarter with Spanish style.
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