Blake Pontchartrain: The many New Orleans homes of Tennessee WIlliams | Blake Pontchartrain | Gambit Weekly
I know Tennessee Williams spent time in New Orleans and wrote “A Streetcar Named Desire” here, but where did he live?
Although he was born in Columbus, Mississippi, and grew up near St. Louis, Tennessee Williams considered New Orleans his spiritual home. The playwright also famously called the French Quarter “the last frontier of Bohemia.”
As he told WWL-TV anchor Eric Paulsen in a 1981 interview, the city also is where Williams, who was gay, discovered “a certain flexibility in my sexual nature.” He added that, coming here, he felt like “a migratory bird going to a more congenial climate.”
Williams first came to New Orleans in the 1930s. According to Susan Larson’s “The Booklover’s Guide to New Orleans,” Williams rented a room at 620 Chartres St.
In 1939, Williams rented an apartment at 722 Toulouse St., which is now part of the Historic New Orleans Collection. He set some of his early works there, including the semi-autobiographical play “Vieux Carre.”
Williams later moved to a second-floor apartment at 710 Orleans Ave., near the rear of St. Louis Cathedral. There, he wrote the one-act play “Ten Blocks on the Camino Real” in 1946.
Later that year, while living in an apartment at 632 St. Peter, he wrote the work for which he is best known, “A Streetcar Named Desire.” In a 1971 Esquire interview with Rex Reed, Williams described writing the play “under a skylight at a large refectory table.” Williams lived in the apartment from October 1946 through March 1947, while writing the play, which debuted later that year. It won the Pulitzer Prize for drama and in 1951 became an Academy Award-nominated film.
Williams’ final New Orleans address was 1014 Dumaine Street. He bought the 1835 Greek Revival townhouse in 1962 and lived off and on there in a second-floor apartment, during the last 20 years of his life. Williams died in New York in February 1983.
Chicken on the Run became Popeyes Mighty Good Fried Chicken in June 1972.