polo ralph lauren big pony Le Petit stalwarts look forward to theater’s new season
“I told Bob (Edmundson) there was no way we could miss it, especially because I was on the committee,” said Kathleen, who serves the theater as a volunteer. “I’m glad I got to help because Le Petit is just so important to the French Quarter and the cultural life of the city.”
The Edmundsons live on St. Philip Street in a quiet section of the French Quarter. Their home is an 1830s Creole cottage with a two story accessory building in the rear, separated from the main house by a bricked courtyard. The property originally was purchased by Bob’s mother, Elizabeth, in 1986. After she moved to a larger place on Dauphine Street, the St. Philip Street cottage became Bob’s roost.
At 2,400 square feet, the main house is large enough to be comfortable but small enough to feel cozy. The extra 750 square feet in the guesthouse offers friends and family gracious guest quarters and plenty of privacy. The brick courtyard between the two buildings serves as an outdoor room, outfitted with a fountain and interesting pottery. Elizabeth Edmundson brought the statue in the fountain back to New Orleans after her trip around the world in 1963.
It also was the family matriarch who was still going to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival when she was 98 who introduced Bob to Le Petit when he was a young boy.
“My mother is now 101 and still devoted to New Orleans culture,” Bob said. “She supported Le Petit, and I used to go to plays there with her and to the opera. ”
Given Bob’s many interests which include acting, music, polo, sailing and rugby and expansive personality, he has collected a wide ranging cadre of friends who come from around the world to visit him and Kathleen at their French Quarter home. That’s the reason that the cottage has earned the nickname “Bob’s Bed and Breakfast.”
“We have a constant stream of guests some of them we hardly see because they have their privacy and we have ours,” Bob said. “I had stationery made with that name on it and the motto ‘Long on Bed, Short on Breakfast.'”
Over the course of the nine years that have passed since Bob and Kathleen met on a blind date, the two have worked together to update the house and guest quarters.
“We completely renovated the upstairs of this house so that there are now two bedrooms and baths,” Kathleensaid. “We also renovated the upstairs in the guesthouse and exposed a lot of the brick walls.”
But a house for entertaining must have a commodious kitchen, ample bar space and pleasant powder room, a truth that sparked a major overhaul of the rear rooms on the left side of the first floor.
“The kitchen dated to the early 1960s and needed a lot of work,” Bob said. “I worked with architect John Williams on that project and the renovation of the upstairs bedrooms.”
An unusual feature of the kitchen is its 40 inch high countertops, a condition that Bob discovered when he first started living there.
“The house was purchased from the Reising family the French bread people and the explanation that we heard was that Mrs. Reising was very tall,” Bob said. “Over time, I became used to them at that height and discovered that I like them a lot better than the standard ones.”
The kitchen’s Wolf range is set at the same raised height, prompting Kathleen to tease Bob that she can barely reach to stir a pot of red beans and rice, even in her signature heels. The kitchen was due to be completed in time for a Jazz Fest party but, true to renovation logic, was behind schedule.
“We were cutting stone for the bar out on the sidewalk and nailing drawer fronts to the base cabinets to make it look like they were installed,” Bob said. “No one noticed.”
A Baccarat crystal chandelier hangs above the kitchen island, which is topped with soapstone. In the powder room, a window looks out at the brick wall of the building next door, prompting Bob to search high and low for some sort of ornament to hang on the wall to serve as a focal point.
“I went to an ironwork shop out on Airline Highway and they let me go dig around in some of their surplus works,” he said. “I went all the way to the back and found an elaborate piece of iron left over from the restoration of the Cabildo.” Panes in the bottom sash of the powder room window are etched in a pattern mimicking that of the ironwork on the wall.
Built in shelves in the living room display a varied collection of books, photos, artworks and Muses shoes. Early works by Clementine Hunter can be found near the piano, and paintings by Charles Whitfield Richards appear in the dining room.
More than a dozen black and white large format cartoons by John Churchill Chase hang on the wall in the breakfast area.
“Chase was the editorial cartoonist at the States Item. All of the drawings are originals from about 1955, and they are all political satire,” Bobsaid. “If you take the time to read them, you realize how little has changed politically in the last 60 years. Plus change.”
Another thing that hasn’t changed is the excitement that Bob and Kathleen feel about Le Petit’s theatrical offerings, especially during this 100th anniversary year.
“We love going to the plays and always take our out of town guests whenever they’re here opening weekend. We make a night of it have dinner at Tableau and go to the play,” Kathleen said. “Sometimes we walk from our house, but every now and then, we take a pedicab it makes for quite a festive entrance to the event.”.