Bill Capo / Eyewitness News
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NEWORLEANS- The Historic New Orleans Collection is opening the door to a piece of New Orleans history. They own the Brulatour House and Courtyard on Royal Street, and are starting work to re-open it to the public.

'I see concerts, art classes, I see coffee and conversation,' explained Historic New Orleans Collection Executive Director Priscilla Lawrence.

The courtyard was a business, not a tourist attraction when the house was built in 1816 by wine merchant and furniture maker Francois Seignouret.

'An army of workers assembling furniture,' said the Collection's Director of Museum Programs John Lawrence.

But in the 1930s, an artists' community moved in.

'Just an explosion of paintings and hand colored photographs, of images, and postcards of these courtyards, and it becomes in some way a symbol of all New Orleans courtyards,' said John Lawrence.

Now they plan a museum in the building telling the history of the French Quarter.

'We want to tell that there were Native American encampments in the French Quarter before buildings were built,' said Priscilla Lawrence. 'We want to tell the story of French and Spanish colonial occupation.'

They've already found a 200-year-old water well, and hope it will yield historic treasure about how our ancestors lived.

'Pieces of their tableware, plates, saucers, that kind of thing,' said Michael Godzinski, Project Director for EarthSearch.

It's a major project to turn this building into a brand new museum. They hope to have it finished by the end of the year 2017, in time for the City of New Orleans Tricentennial. And during the process, they know they're going to need lots of community support.

'We will have naming opportunities for the galleries, and we would love sponsorships,' said Priscilla Lawrence. For more information, call The Historic New orleans Collection at 523-4662, or visit their website at

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