When I started Our House Stories, my first inspirations were Felix and Virginia (Abreo) Conrad, who caused the construction of 2463 N. Villere in 1910. Today, I explore the race, gender, materiality, and spatiality in nineteenth-century New Orleans through . The podcast covers historical events during the time the Conrads lived on Villere Street. Felix's long career both as a police officer and as a cotton screwman highlights issues of race and emancipation during and after Reconstruction, the role of labor in the port city, political corruption, and family life.
Felix Conrad was a colleague of Chief David Hennessey when the chief was gunned down by Mafia assassins in 1890. The same year, Conrad banded his Eighth Ward neighbors to dynamite the levees during a severe flood. Conrad walked the beat in Storyville, the infamous red-light district. Indeed, he would have been present as African American musicians improvised the creation of jazz. Conrad's official use of force suggests useful historical precedents to the problem of biased policing in the twenty-first century United States. While Felix enforced the law, his brother, John, repeatedly broke it, showing the limits of Felix's authority.