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La Belle Maison | The Liipfert Family

La Belle Maison | The Liipfert Family

The word “masterpiece” comes to mind when looking at the house that stands at 706 East Charles Street in Hammond, bridging the gap from the past to the present with grace and beauty that commands attention. Built around 1906 by Eli Preston, the “Preston House” is a massive home that bears the best of both the Victorian and Craftsman eras, with decorative architectural details that seem to marry the two styles seamlessly.

A lumber magnate, Preston naturally built the home using only handpicked lumber from the finest virgin cypress trees in the Lake Pontchartrain and Maurepas swamps, including interior and exterior millwork. The result was something that has withstood the test of time and aged gracefully over more than 100 years, becoming part of the historic district of Hammond. Previously, the home was owned by the mayor and his wife, until it was purchased in April 2021 by James and Lacy Liipfert.

With numerous archways, thick columns, and cantilevered roofing supported by artistic corbels extending over a porch area that seems quintessentially Southern, the home is everything gracious about the deep South made manifest in a building. Enclosed by a white picket fence that perfectly replicates the original, the property is a sprawling expanse of green situated at the corner of South Chestnut and East Charles, with mature trees including live oaks, magnolias and cedar trees, as well as rose gardens and fruit trees that add to the feeling of history that seems to envelop the home like an invisible shroud. There’s little wonder, then, that the home has been featured in a number of magazines, books, and even a movie. “The property is well-known for the 500-year-old oak that the founder of Hammond, Peter Hammond, used to hitch his horses to back in 1818,” says Lacy, a native of Loranger and former SLU cheerleader who has been in the hair and makeup industry for the past 12 years in addition to interior design. 

It’s transfixing, from the moment one walks up the stairs to the porch and through the original cypress double doors, each with beveled glass on the top half that afford views in three different directions. Walking straight ahead, you’ll find a long, open hallway lined with large chandeliers and archways that mimic the exterior. To the right, a large parlor with a marble fireplace and a wall of massive floor-to-ceiling French doors that lead out to the porch. A cozy living room with another fireplace and large sash-weighted windows along with a beautiful stained-glass window are to the left. Flowing from room to room and bringing warmth and cohesion to the spaces are beautifully stained heart pine floors.

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Two of the home’s four bedrooms flank the hall, one on each side, the one on the right boasting a fireplace and two floor-to-ceiling windows and screens that fully open into the ceiling, creating a doorway passthrough to access to the west side porch and Juliet balcony that overlooks immaculately landscaped gardens and the ancient oak tree. The bedroom opposite also features a fireplace as well as two large windows overlooking the east yard, in addition to an adjoining full bath with an original clawfoot bathtub and marble floors. The bathroom adjoins to the guest room, whose main entrance is met by a stunning staircase that leads up to the master living quarters.

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