Joseph Rault a French immigrant opened a gunsmith shop at the age of
18 here in New Orleans the year was 1845. Very early in it's history the
shop was located in the French Quarter, then moved to Magazine Street,
where it has remained for over 160 years.
His son Henri E. Rault, was not only a gunsmith, he also learned the trade
of locksmithing as well and after the death of his father in 1881, he took
over the shop. Twenty-one year old Henri added the H and the name of the
business H. Rault Locksmith evolved into the business it is today.
In 1936 at the age of 75 Henri Rault was struck by a Model T Ford crossing
Magazine Street enroute to New Orleans latest amusement, the motion
picture matinee, a local theater located at the corner of Magazine and
His daughter Isabella Rault became the owner/operator of the lock shop
until her son Russell E. Staub was of age to take over. Russell ran the
shop then located at 3027 Magazine until his death in 1993. The shop was
moved in 1926 from 3013 Magazine Street to it's present location which
was purchased for 9,000.00!
In 1992 the shop building and inventory were sold to a local businessman
Jim Miller. Mr. Miller had the huge task of cleaning up piles of "stuff" after
years of neglect. The backyard held pens for pit bulls and the second floor
had been converted to a coop for fighting cocks. The property was in
complete despair. Huge flat bed trucks took 18 loads of junk away and still
so much more was left behind as well as a large inventory of antique locks
In July of 2004 Mr. Miller and his lock shop were featured in a book entitled
"A Guide to the Historic Shops and Restaurants of New Orleans. Today you
can purchase a copy of the book which sits on the counter.
In the summer of 2005 more changes occurred at H. Rault, when
Hurricane Katrina took the roof off the building. The shop was closed for
one year while extensive renovations took place, which included a brand
new showroom, to house decorative hardware.
After 165 years a new generation of Miller's have taken over and expanded
the business with safes, shutter hardware, mailboxes, and decorative
hardware and many products not found in home improvement stores. Still
the mainstay at H. Rault will always be antique locks.