Monday, June 11, 2012
What becomes legends most?
The Vieux Carre has a slew of historic properties, but two recently were limelighted by parties. One of the most beautiful bashes of the spring season unfolded in the Old Ursuline Convent, where there were two reasons to celebrate: the 15-year countdown to the tricentennial of the Ursuline nuns’ arrival in New Orleans to educate girls and young women, and the bicentennial of the nuns’ participation in the War of 1812.
A second Quarter celebration was titled Amazing Grapes 2012 and benefited the hosting Hermann-Grima/Gallier Historic Houses. It was held in the Royal Sonesta Hotel.
Champagne flowed at the reception at the Old Ursuline Convent’s Chartres Street location, where a letter written by Gen. Andrew Jackson thanking the nuns for their prayers during the Battle of 1812 was displayed. So were the convent’s stunning premises, which were shown informally to the guests by almost 20 docents from Ursuline Academy on State Street. Among them were Catherine Gabriel, Laura Taylor, Rachel Stuckey, Marcelle Meyer, Esther Castay and Emma Castay. Meanwhile, the black-tie assembly enjoyed hors d’oeuvres by Laura Arrowood Catering.
From the early-on socializing, guests moved to the adjoining St. Mary’s Church and words of welcome by Monsignor Crosby Kern, rector of St. Louis Cathedral; a musical program by French organist Thomas Ospital and soprano Amy Pfrimmer; and a video presentation on the history of the Ursuline nuns in the New World with comments by Karen Swensen, the narrator and an Ursuline parent.
More remarks came later from Bishop Shelton Fabre, the representative of the Archdiocese of New Orleans; Rear Adm. Ann Phillips, operational commander of the concurrent Navy Week; the Rev. Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities, USA; and from the board of trustees of Tulane University. Thank-you comments were from the convent’s prioress, Sister Carla Dolce.
Seated under tenting on the convent’s grounds, guests enjoyed the appetizers by Galatoire’s, and the main course of filet mignon and dessert of Baked Alaska by Antoine’s. The flowers were done by Meade Wenzel.
Of particular importance was the Tricentennial Committee, consisting of the respective chairwoman and “co, ” Mmes. Emanuel Blessey and Harold A. Fuselier, that’s Madeleine and Ann, who were joined by their husbands and Ann’s mother, Mary Ann Valentino; and Mary Lou (Mrs. William) Christovich, David B. Gooch, Susan H. Jumonville, Verna (Mrs. Moon) Landrieu with former Mayor Moon and daughter U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, Dr. Alfred E. Lemmon, Stephen Swain, Mrs. Robert Taylor and her husband, and Cherie (Mrs. George T.) Schneider with her son and daughter-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. J. Luis Banos Jr. He is the honorary consul of Spain.
Among the other dignitaries were Germinal Commander Sebastien Chatelain, consul general of Canada, Paula Caldwell St-Onge from Dallas, honorary consul of Canada Patricia “Pat” Denechaud, U.S. Coast Guard Capt. and Mrs. Peter Gautier, Ursuline Academy President Gretchen Kane and brother Judge Franz Zibilich, academy board chairman Eugene Priestly, NOLA Navy Week’s Mark Romig, Maj. Gen. and Mrs. David Mize, Judy and Allain Andry, John and Sylvia Laborde, fairly newlyweds Gary Blossman and Maria Muro, Mr. and Mrs. Erik Johnsen and Mr. and Mrs. George Mouledoux Jr. (she’s Poppy Tooker) and friend Richard “Dick” Colton, honorary Consul of Great Britain Jimmy Coleman and Minnie, and Muriel Brunet, whose husband, Jean-Claude, is the consul general of France. Compliments concerning the elegant and historical ado flowed, as did kudos to then-institutional advancement director Julie Hines Mabus, a former first lady of Mississippi. She, in turn, cited particular contribution to the event from the above Madeleine Blessey and Ann Fuselier, and Janet Goforth.
The celebration that bannered history made its own social history in the lore of Crescent City levity.
Elsewhere, Amazing Grapes had a vine time, thanks to lead sponsor IberiaBank, additional supporters Fidelity Homestead Savings and Whitney National banks, wine and auction donors Trinchero Family Estates and Barry Wiss, and event chairwomen Annie (Mrs. Nathaniel) Phillips and Leah (Mrs. Miller) Engelhardt with their spouses. A 6 p.m. patron party kicked off the vinous vitality that continued with the main event and its attractions of silent and live auctions (including a Napa Valley getaway and a 1996 Chateau Lafite Rothschild), a three-course dinner (including a chef’s trilogy dessert) with wine pairings, and the presence of a comely crowd.
Around and about were Ellen Coleman (with Grant), who presides over The Women’s Exchange that owns and operates the Hermann-Grima/Gallier Historic House museums; incoming president Marilee Hovet with Andrew; and Executive Director Mamie Gasperecz with Kirk. Also, Grace and Sandy Kaynor, Melissa and Jerry Steiner, Maury and Gino Rendeiro, Laura and John Sillars, Susan and Jimmy Gundlach, Joyce and Sidney Pulitzer, Nelsons four in Harriet and Howard and Ashley and Murray, Michael Harold and Quinn Pepper (just back from Kenya with Marian Wallis), Judy and Allain Andry, Mary and Joel Funderburk, Scott Bickford, Adrienne and Jon Rynning, Hermann descendant James Reiss with Erica, Molly and Kristen Baumer, Laura and Sonny Shields, Betsy and Andrew Todd, Ann and John Sinnott, Jamie Coleman (spouse Monique was with their little daughter, Jane-Owen), and a King quintet in Donald, Charlie and Tricia, and Billy and Amy.