The period that the property was owned by the Maginnis family was equally dramatic. Ten years after purchase, in 1889, the master of the house, John Henry Maginnis, was struck by lightning, on no less auspicious a date than the Fourth of July, when he died. John was one of the wealthiest and most highly connected men in the Deep South at that time. Both he and his older brother Arthur Ambrose had married daughters of the most powerful politician of New York City, William Marcy 'Boss' Tweed. Thus, the next widow and owner of this house was Elizabeth Tweed who, as an eerie coincidence, also was nicknamed 'Lizzie', like the first mistress of the manor. Elizabeth Tweed's sister, Mary Amelia, wife of Arthur Ambrose Maginnis, died mysteriously, at age 36, on 17 February 1887.
If the Harris men were middlemen of the cotton industry, the engine of Louisiana's economy in the 1800s, the Maginnis men were its moguls. Like the Harrises, the Maginnis family had been resident in New Orleans for a couple of decades prior to the Civil War. Above-cited Arthur Ambrose began buying up land for the Maginnis Cotton Mill in 1881. The factory was one of the giants of America, located between Constance and Annunciation, John Churchill Chase and Poeyfarre Streets of New Orleans' Warehouse District. Its original mill building, fronting on Annunciation Street, still exists. The next city block, containing the huge factory annex, between Magazine, Constance, John Churchill Chase and Poeyfarre Streets, was owned by John and devolved to Lizzie and their three children upon John's death by lightning.
A lot of ink has been spilt in comment on the positive or negative effects that such a colossal factory had on the overall financial health or lack of it in the port of New Orleans. At its peak, in the early 1890s, the Maginnis Cotton Mill employed a thousand workers – men, women and children. That conditions in such mills were unlike those that we would allow today goes without question. Some have even interpreted the lightning strike that slew John Henry Maginnis as Divine Retribution for the way that the cotton mill treated its workers.
As second master of this residence, John was killed at the resort of Ocean Springs, Mississippi, where he had a summer house. Like Alexander Harris before him, John's funeral took place here. His death certificate states that he was only 44 years and 8 months old. He left three children by Lizzie: William Tweed Maginnis, John Henry Maginnis and Mary Josephine Maginnis.
As a debutante of this house in the early Gay Nineties, John's daughter, known as Josephine, was presented fatherless to Society. She managed splendidly and probably brought this house some of its happier moments. For over a century, New Orleans debutantes have featured and still do feature, as Queens of the Mardi Gras krewes, which provide this city unparalleled amusement, parades, and balls. In 1892, Josephine was Queen of the Krewe of Argonauts, and in 1893 Queen of the Mistick Krewe of Comus, the krewe of krewes of New Orleans, whose first parade occurred, coincidentally, in 1857, the year this house was designed.
In 1892, Josephine was also a Lady of Court for the Queen of Comus, Varina Anne 'Winnie' Davis, daughter of the President of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis. Winnie, likely an honored guest at this house, died young (at age 34), as did four of five of President Davis's children.
The krewe parades of the 1890s are legendary highpoints of the Golden Age of New Orleans float designs. The lush foliage and flowing lines of the worldwide Art Nouveau movement lent themselves perfectly to the inspiration required for the mobile masterpieces of the New Orleans artists then employed by the various krewes. In 1893, when Josephine Maginnis was Queen of Comus, one of the city's most remarkable artists of the medium, Virginia Wilkinson 'Jennie' Wilde, was then reaching her stride. Her first Comus pageant had only occurred two seasons earlier, when she designed the legendary Demonology parade. Her next series of tableaux, Nippon, The Land of the Rising Sun, had rolled in 1892, the year Winnie Davis was Queen. When Josephine Maginnis reigned as Queen of Comus, 1893, Miss Wilde's theme was Gustave Flaubert's novel, Salammbo. Like so many of her era, Jennie Wilde died tragically young, at age 48, in England. She is buried in Metairie Cemetery, not too far from the tomb of John Maginnis.
John's bloodline continues to this day, via his daughter Josephine who, as Queen of Comus, was called 'a young lady gifted with rare beauty and queenly grace' (Daily Picayune, 15 February 1893). Josephine's marriage to George Rose of New York City took place in this house, on 29 April 1896. No descendants of Josephine's brothers perpetuate. Josephine's daughter Gwendolyn married John Mackay, whose sister Ellen was the wife of songwriter Irving Berlin.
John's widow, Lizzie Tweed, died as he did in Mississippi, in 1921, and willed this property to Josephine, who retained it until 1939, when she gave it to the New Orleans Chapter of the American Red Cross. Josephine and George spent most of their time in New York and Paris, where he died in 1936. During the 20th century, documentation about the house is spotty, but a rare photograph of the faÃ§ade was taken in the mid-1920s by one of the world's greatest photographers, Arnold Genthe, whose famous lens immortalized many personalities, such as Isadora Duncan at the Parthenon of Athens. Genthe's image of 2127 Prytania Street was published in his book, Impressions of Old New Orleans (Doran, New York, 1926).