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Denis de La Ronde Site

First recorded colonial property owner was the Sieur Saubugne, succeeded by Adrien de Pauger in the 1720s who laid out the original town of New Orleans in 1721, today the New Orleans' French Quarter. ...

First recorded colonial property owner was the Sieur Saubugne, succeeded by Adrien de Pauger in the 1720s who laid out the original town of New Orleans in 1721, today the New Orleans' French Quarter. Subsequent owners included Balthazar de Ponfrac de Mazan and Louis Bore who succeeded in granulating sugar on this grant in 1763. Spanish military officer and New Orleans Cabildo member Pierre Denis de La Ronde acquired the property in 1799. Oral tradition in the Denis de La Ronde family maintains that Pierre Denis de La Ronde built his very commodious and elegant home about 1805.

Pierre Denis de La Ronde was born in New Orleans in 1766, the son of Pierre Denis de La Ronde and Marie Magdelaine Broutin. He was the half-brother of Ignace Francois Martin Delino de Chalmet, owner of the Chalmette Plantation and site of the January 8th, 1815 Battle of New Orleans. Denis de La Ronde helped to settle Canary Islanders in St. Bernard between 1779 and 1783 and served in the Galvez Expedition during the American Revolution between 1779 and 1781. He also served as the second commandant of the Poblacion de San Bernardo from 1788 until 1802. After the Louisiana Purchase, Denis de La Ronde served as colonel commanding the Third Regiment of the Louisiana Militia. Additionally, Denis de La Ronde helped to draft the first constitution of the State of Louisiana in 1812 as a member of the first state constitutional convention. Denis de La Ronde was major general of the Louisiana State Militia when he died in 1824. He was buried with pomp and circumstance in St. Louis Cemetery No. Two in New Orleans in a tomb maintained by his descendants.

The Denis de La Ronde Plantation was the site of the December 23rd, 1814 night battle during the military campaign for New Orleans, 1814-15. This engagement was the first land engagement between British and American forces, fought within hours of the British making landfall and establishing a principal headquarters at the Villere Plantation. The Third Regiment of the Louisiana Militia, under the command of Denis de La Ronde, led the fight which spread over the plantations of Delaronde, Lacoste and Villere. The Denis de La Ronde House served as a British field hospital and temporary headquarters on January 8th, 1815. Major General Sir Edward Pakenham's body was brought to the house as were the bodies of other British officers and troops.

The Delaronde house and plantation remained in possession of the Delaronde family until 1832 when the plantation was sold at auction to Daniel Warburg. It was Warburg who subdivided the plantation and named the development Versailles in 1832. Versailles is the oldest residential development in today's Chalmette. The Delaronde house stood until the 1880s when it burned. It became a famous, picturesque ruin visited by all traveling to see the place of the American victory in the Battle of New Orleans. When St. Bernard Highway was opened in the 1920s, the highway was routed around the ruins creating an island median.

In 1815, period maps documented parterre gardens with citrus trees surrounding the Delaronde house without an alley of oak trees. The Charles F. Zimpel map of 1834 is perhaps the earliest map depicting the existence of the Delaronde Oak Alley. Therefore, the oak alley did not exist in 1814-15 and was not viewed by Major General Pakenham. Today, the ruins are the final structural remnant directly involved in the Battle of New Orleans standing atop the extended battlefield. The ensemble of the ruins and almost two-century-old live oaks form an historic site of international significance to the people of the United States and Great Britain.

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