New Orleans Home Has Seen Pews Pirouettes
By Catherine Sherman
Half a block from St. Charles Avenue and the Mardi Gras parade - that's enough to attract any New Orleans buyer. But a prime location, not to mention the city's largest green roof, isn't this home's main selling point. Since 1927, a light-filled great room with 26-foot ceilings has played host to everything from wedding veils and hymnals to pointe shoes and stage lights.
"It was a famous ballet school for many years," said listing agent Britton Galloway of Keller Williams Realty. "Everyone from Bolshoi Ballet to Baryshnikov danced here."
Harvey Hysell, a classical ballet dancer praised for his choreography and lavish costumes, was born to a New Orleans Methodist minister and church pianist. It was fitting, therefore, when he moved his ballet school to 1527 Harmony St.
"The massive old Spanish baroque structure the color of Bermuda coral, tucked away in the Garden District on a short side street called Harmony, was once a church," Dance Magazine wrote in an April 1998 cover story. "The building is somehow symbolic of Hysell himself."
Westminster Presbyterian, a historic congregation started in the 1830s, used the building as a place of worship. When the congregation outgrew the space, they sold it to Hysell in 1978. He lived in one part of the property and used the sanctuary for the dance studio.
The current owner bought the place in 1999. By that time, the church turned dance studio had been converted into a residential property with a 10,000-square-foot main residence and three 1-bedroom apartments. Here's a look at the transformation:
Galloway says his client is looking to downsize, though isn't in a hurry to sell. The home has been on the market since September, and the asking price hasn't budged from $2.5 million. That's anestimated $9,714 a month, assuming 20 percent down on a 30-year fixed mortgage.
"A lot of people from the entertainment industry are looking at it," he said. "Both actors and musicians are looking to use it for a myriad of different uses."
The New Orleans property is currently zoned residential, but that isn't to say it couldn't be converted again depending on the buyer's vision.
"Not many people get a chance to live in this type of situation," Galloway said. "It's truly unique."
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