Carter Manny Award

  • Ownership, Entrepreneurship, and Identity: The Gens de Couleur Libres and the Architecture of Antebellum New Orleans, 1830-1850
    Tara Dudley

900 block St. Philip Street with Dolliole-Masson Cottage (1805) second from right, New Orleans, Louisiana. Photo by Tara Dudley, March 2011.

Tara Dudley, The University of Texas at Austin, School of Architecture, is the recipient of the 2011 Carter Manny Writing Award.

This dissertation examines the architectural activities of New Orleans's gens de couleur libres or free people of color, their influence on the physical growth of New Orleans, and the implications—historical, cultural, and economic—of their contributions to nineteenth-century American architecture as builders, developers, and property owners. A unique group of people building in a specific time and place, the activities of gens de couleur libres builders and patrons set standards within and without predominantly black Creole communities. Their activities informed the types of economic endeavors suitable for black Creoles and allowed the persistence of Francophone culture in the wake of Americanization. This dissertation utilizes as case studies the Dolliole and Soulié families who were active in the building trades in the antebellum era, emphasizing their socioeconomic backgrounds as a tool to understanding their professional motivations and the creation of a specific ethnic and architectural identity in antebellum New Orleans.

Tara Dudley, a native of Lafayette, Louisiana, lives in Uhland, Texas, with her husband David and two toddlers, Zoya and Aria. Dudley’s specializations are nineteenth-century architecture and interior design, and historic preservation. Her research interests include material culture, gender studies, and African-American architectural history. Dudley received her BA in Art History from Princeton University and her MS in Historic Preservation from the University of Texas at Austin. She has interned at Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and at Shadows-on-the-Teche. She is an architectural historian at Hardy-Heck-Moore, Inc., a cultural resource management firm based in Austin, Texas.