Friday, March 2

Cast iron stomachs

Ma chère amie Cécile and I were enjoying some chicory coffee this morning while waiting for our beignets and we got to talking about the abundant use of cast iron in New Orleans.

I was telling her that while many love the new Courtyard Furniture, others are complaining about its green-painted surface.

She was astonished and told me a couple of facts.

Due to French and Spanish influence in New Orleans, wrought iron had long been used. With the industrial revolution though, Victorians started using decorative cast iron instead.

According to this PDF from Louisiana's State Historic Preservation Office, cast iron was historically painted either a soft green or bronze since cast iron is more brittle and more likely to rust than wrought iron.

Cast Iron
  • High carbon content, brittle
  • Heated to a molten, fluid form and poured into molds
  • Good for complex or repetitive patterns
  • More prone to rust
  • Mechanically fastened together, by bolts for example

Wrought Iron

  • Malleable, lower carbon content
  • Hand shaped by heat and force
  • Best for geometric or curvilinear designs
  • Less likely to rust, was sometimes waxed for protection
  • Fastened with rivets or by fusing

And if anyone had ever seen the three cornstalk fences in New Orleans (made by Wood & Perot of Philadelphia!), they'd know they're intricately painted.


  1. I love the green painted iron, it looks softer and prettier than just plain black

  2. Wow, I had no idea about cast iron. Very informitive, Addie

    I do want to add that I didn't know about wrought iron until I read your post.