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Pete Fountain house moves toward historic landmark status

Aug 20, 2023

The Historic District Landmark Commission unanimously voted this week to approve the modest home at 820 N. White St. in Mid-City for study as historic landmark.

The vacant shotgun house was the boyhood home of famed clarinetist Pete Fountain, who died in 2016. Thanks to his regular appearances on national television beginning in the 1950s, Fountain is recalled as an important ambassador of New Orleans jazz.

Pete Fountain, circa 1965-1971.

Sandra Stokes, chair of advocacy of the Louisiana Landmarks Society, a nonprofit preservation group, originally proposed that the HDLC consider the Fountain house for landmark status.

During Wednesday’s meeting, Stokes read a note from Fountain’s widow, Beverly, explaining that the White Street house “is the home of the very first notes played by Pete Fountain on his clarinet when he was 9 years old.”

The current single-family dwelling, which dates to around the turn of the 20th century, was once a double shotgun. Fountain, who was born in 1930, lived on the 822 side until 1951.

According to records on the Assessor's Office website, Thu X. Can has owned the property since August 2005. Can did not address the HDLC meeting on Monday.

This modest house (green house) at 820 N. White Street in New Orleans was the boyhood home of the late Pete Fountain, one of New Orleans' most popular jazz musicians, photographed Friday, July 21, 2023. (Staff photo by David Grunfeld, The Times-Picayune |

In a July interview, contractor Ed Siren, who lives near the White Street house, said that “no one’s lived there for many years,” and “the house is in pretty bad shape.”

HDLC deputy director Eleanor Burke explained in July that if the house was approved for study as a possible landmark (as happened Wednesday), “any proposal for exterior work would be subject to review and approval by the HDLC.”

That means the owner would have to get the city’s OK to make any visible alterations to the house. Demolition of the home would have to be approved by the city agency as well, Burke said.

Musician Pete Fountain, wearing a white jacket, playing a Summer Pops concert in 1966.

Email Doug MacCash at [email protected]. Follow him on Instagram at dougmaccash, on Twitter at Doug MacCash and on Facebook at Douglas James MacCash.

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