Priscilla Lawrence

And Her Collection of Long Jackets
Cheryl Gerber
Priscilla Lawrence, executive director of The Historic New Orleans Collection, has a fashion favorite that fits her busy life — long jackets that are always in style and go from a board meeting to a reception or evening lecture. Her collection of longer jackets is extensive, from conservative solid colors to colorful prints in a variety of fabrics appropriate for any season.

Priscilla Lawrence is always impeccably dressed for her busy life as executive director of The Historic New Orleans Collection (THNOC).

“My style is designed to provide comfort for long days and evening events,” she says. And if you opened the door of her closet in the historic Uptown home she shares with John, her husband, who is director of programs at THNOC, you would find an interesting collection of long jackets that always make her look well put together.

“With a black skirt and tank top underneath, I can quickly change jackets at 5 p.m. for a reception or evening lecture,” she says. Her wardrobe of longer jackets seems endless, from conservative solid colors to colorful prints.

With her careful dedication to overseeing the mission of THNOC — to present and interpret the history and culture of New Orleans and the Louisiana region for public enrichment — Priscilla has led the non-profit organization on a constant path of success for almost 20 years.

“Our goal is to give life to the history and its place in a regional, national and international context,” she says, as she guides the two campuses in the French Quarter that include the historic building and galleries at 533 Royal Street, anchored by the 1792 Merieult House where the Louisiana History Galleries reside. These spaces feature some of the most important materials (documents, paintings, objects) in our collections. The home of the founders of THNOC is also a part of the complex and is a house museum. The other campus is the Williams Research Center at 410 Charles Street, where a treasure trove of information is available to scholars, journalists, filmmakers, students and others for research.”

There is always something going on with THNOC’s many programs and its extensive outreach to the community.

“I don’t even remember when I began wearing longer jackets on a daily basis,” Priscilla says. “It just became a style that fits my busy schedule to always be ready to execute our goal, to give life to our history and place it in regional, national and international context.”

Both of THNOC’s campuses provide spaces for exhibitions, public programs and educational outreach for teachers, K-12 students and college classes, as well as provide workspace for 108 people. There is also a strong publishing component of its outreach. “We publish books on a variety of areas of Louisiana history and we also publish The Historic New Orleans Collection Quarterly.”

The newest project on the horizon for the organization is the conversion of the Seignouret-Brulatour House at 520 Royal Street into a major permanent exhibition on the history of the French Quarter.

“We have General Williams and his wife to thank for their amazing vision to make The Historic New Orleans Collection possible,” Priscilla says. “Their lasting legacy is a great gift to the community, history scholars and the thousands of tourists who visit each year.”



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