Canal Street Retail 1899

Canal Street Retail 1899

May meant big sales for Canal Street Retail in 1899.

canal street retail

Canal Street Retail 1899 – Sales!

Ads for Leon Fellman’s and A. Shwartz and Son from 14-May-1899 in the Daily Picayune. Both ads promote big sales for each store. While we look back now and see what appear to be typical advertising, there’s a lot going on for both stores.

canal street retail

Pickwick Building in 1948, just prior to its demolition. Leon Fellman’s moved to Baronne and Common, changed the store’s name to Feibleman’s, then sold to Sears in the 1930s.

Spring, 1899 was a transition time for Canal Street retail. It’s less than two years since some big changes in the Canal Street landscape. After the big fire on Valentine’s Day, 1892 that burned out most of the 701 block, A. Shwartz and Son moved up the street to the Mercier Buildings at 901 Canal Street. Leon Fellman left the Touro Buildings years earlier, as one of the first tenants at 901. After the Touro Buildings were rebuilt, A. Shwartz and Son wanted to move back. The youngest brother, Simon J. Shwartz chose to stay at 901 Canal. He acquired the entirety of the Mercier Buildings and terminated Fellman’s lease in early 1897. Later that year, SJ Shwartz opened the Maison Blanche.

Fellman took his store across the street. He acquired the Pickwick Building at 800 Canal. Leon converted the hotel into a department store. Two years later, L. Fellman & Co. still reminded shoppers of the new location.

1890s Diss Track?

canal street retail

The 14-May-1899 for A. Shwartz and Son took an interesting shot at younger brother Simon. After evicting Leon Fellman from 901 Canal, SJ Shwartz hit his father-in-law up for investment capital to bring the “department store” concept to New Orleans. Isidore Newman agreed with son-in-law Simon, and a local retail icon was born. The sheer size of the Maison Blanche made it a force from the beginning. Even though A. Shwartz and Son took over the corner of Bourbon and Canal Street, competing with a full department store was a challenge. Still, the original family store didn’t mind poking the bear. Since “Maison Blanche” translates to “White House,” the original store references the “White House” on Third Avenue in New York City. That allusion was what Simon had in mind when he converted SJ Shwartz Company to the French translation. He made it clear the New Orleans store was for New Orleans, with the French name. the family thumbed their nose at that.

Krauss to Fellman

Why talk about the Fellmans? Leon and his older brother Bernard (who never left the Touro Buildings) gave their nephews jobs at their store. Those nephews were the Krauss Brothers. After Leon settled in at 800 Canal Street, he purchased the entire 1201 block of Canal Street. Fellman built a two-story store there. He offered it to his nephews, who opened Krauss Department Store there in 1903.

 

The Picayune Weather Prophet in 1896

The Picayune Weather Prophet in 1896

The Picayune Frog becomes our beloved Weather Prophet.

the Picayune Frog

The 1896 Guide was the Picayune Frog

In the 1890s, the Picayune’s Guide to New Orleans served as one of the best local tourist publications for the city. The “guide” for the 1896 edition was the “Picayune Frog.” The newspaper adopted the frog two years earlier and put him to work as their Weather Prophet. His popularity grew in a couple of years. By 1896, he was your guide.

I’m the Picayune Frog;
Will you venture a jog with me?
You may foot it, or ride;
But a capital Guide I’ll be.

Our friend the Weather Prophet graced the pages of the Daily Picayune and its successor, the Times-Picayune, for almost 80 years.

Origins of the Weather Prophet

the picayune frog

end note in the 1896 Picayune Guide to New Orleans

The 1896 Guide offers some background on our friend:

The Picayune Frog is one of the institutions of New Orleans. He was discovered in the city one day early in January, 1894, and invited to take a place on the Picayune as Weather Prophet, a position which the pursuits of his early life had eminently qualified him to fill. Thursday, Jan. 11, 1894, was the memorable day on •which he first made his appearance in his new role, dressed in the identical costume represented in the accompanying cut.

“Cut” refers to “woodcut,” a common print item used to publish illustrations. The image was “cut” into wood, either by hand or using an electrostatic technique. Once cut, the printer added the images to type blocks to form a page of the newspaper. This is why the Picayune Frog adopted the same pose and wardrobe in the early years.

So, our friend the Picayune Frog made such a solid impression on the staff in two years, he became the Guide’s spokes-frog. Our friend’s popularity skyrocketed. Like modern celebrities, the Frog received one of the ultimate compliments from New Orleans society: invitations and inclusions into Carnival:

He has had music dedicated to him by composers; he has been pasted into thousands of scrap-books, and last year, by special invitation, he occupied an honorable place in the Mardi Gras parades.

The Picayune was a Mardi Gras celebrity long before Bacchus. Later, there would even be jewelry and art work featuring our friend.

 

Southern Railway Mardi Gras 1896 #TrainThursday

Southern Railway Mardi Gras 1896 #TrainThursday

Southern Railway advertising rates to Mardi Gras 1896.

mardi gras 1896

 

Mardi Gras 1896

“Reduced Rates – Mardi Gras via Southern Ry. and Alabama Great Southern Railroad . . . Double Daily Train Service between New York, Washington, and New Orleans . . . ”

Ad for the Southern Railway, January-February, 1896. The ad features a man in a classic jester costume, along with a railway logo, “SR” bisected by an arrow.

Route and fares

Southern Railway evolved into the large system we know now over a century. In 1896, the Queen and Crescent route operated from New York City to New Orleans. The route ran over tracks owned by a number of railroads. Trains originating at New Orleans began the trip from the New Orleans and Northeastern (NONE) station at Press and Royal Streets in the Bywater. From NONE, the route traveled north to Birmingham, Chattanooga, to Atlanta. It continued north from Atlanta, to Washington and NYC. This ad shows the round-trip rates from various cities along the way.

Alabama Great Southern Railroad

The Queen and Crescent transitioned from NO&NE tracks to AGS as it traveled north. AGS later became a major component of the Southern Railway System. From Wikipedia:

The Alabama Great Southern Railroad (reporting mark AGS) is a railroad in the U.S. states of Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee. It is an operating subsidiary of the Norfolk Southern Corporation (NS),[2] running southwest from Chattanooga (where it connects with the similarly owned Cincinnati, New Orleans and Texas Pacific Railway) to New Orleans through Birmingham and Meridian. The AGS also owns about a 30% interest in the Kansas City Southern-controlled Meridian-Shreveport Meridian Speedway.[3]

So, the Queen and Crescent, Crescent Limited/Southern Crescent, Southerner, and Pelican passenger routes traveled through AGS territory and tracks. Amtrak’s Crescent continues through AGS territory. The Amtrak route is more-or-less the same as the Southern Crescent.

Pullman Service

While later incarnations of the New Orleans to New York City route operated across the merged Southern system, equipment changed in 1896, as the route entered new territory. Since the Pullman Company operated all the sleeping cars for the railroads, booking a Pullman compartment enabled “through” service. No matter whose locomotives pulled the train, sleeping car passengers got to Carnival with no need to change seats/cars.

NOLA History Guy December (9) – Legendary Local A. Baldwin Wood

NOLA History Guy December (9) – Legendary Local A. Baldwin Wood

NOLA History Guy December continues with Legendary Local A. Baldwin Wood

nola history guy december

A. Baldwin Wood (left)

 

Baldwin Wood’s story is our next for NOLA History Guy December

In 1899, A. Baldwin Wood graduated from Tulane University with a degree in Engineering. He took a job with the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board that year. Wood was more than just an engineer. He was an inventor. His signature creation was the “wood-screw pump.” That pump revolutionized drainage in New Orleans. Wood and the S&WB installed his pumps in stations across the city. While his wood-screw pumps have been replaced by modern turbines, his contributions to the city’s infrastructure and drainage strategy can’t be understated.

The caption

nola history guy december

The Melpomene Street pumping station is named for Wood

The book offers two images for Wood:

Pumps. A. Baldwin Wood (1879-1956) worked for the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board, where he invented the Wood Screw Pump that revolutionized flood prevention in the city. Pumps based on Wood’s designs have been in operation for over 80 years. (Images courtesy NOPL and Carlos “Froggy” May)

 

Legendary Locals of New Orleans

nola history guy december

As mentioned earlier, Legendary Locals of New Orleans differs from the IoA books. A few years ago, a local group of school librarians invited me to speak at one of their meetings. I told them, of the books I’ve written, the one that really should be on their shelves was Legendary Locals. Think about it–a teacher assigns a project for social studies, write a report about someone notable in the city’s history. What’s the kid likely to do? Go to the school library and lay the assignment out for the librarian. Rather than simply suggest a name or two, hand the student my books. Tell them to flip through the short (100-150 word) entries on each Legendary Local. Some may pick an athlete, others a musician. There’s a wide range of personalities.

(NOTE: this book is a great gift for the library at your kid’s school. If you do that, order the hardcover edition of the book. It costs a bit more, but the librarian will appreciate it.

From the back cover:

Since its founding in 1718 by the LeMoyne brothers, New Orleans has cemented its status as one of the busiest ports on the continent. Producing many unique and fascinating individuals, Colonial New Orleans was a true gumbo of personalities. The city lays claim to many nationalities, including Spaniards Baron Carondelet, Don Andres Almonester, and French sailors and privateers Jean Lafitte and Dominique Youx. Businessmen like Daniel Henry Holmes and Isidore Newman contributed to local flavor, as did musicians Buddy Bolden, Joe “King” Oliver, Louis Armstrong, and Louis Prima. War heroes include P.G.T. Beauregard and Andrew Jackson Higgins. Avery Alexander, A.P. Tureaud, and Ernest Morial paved the way for African Americans to lead the city. Kate Chopin, Lafcadio Hearn, Ellen DeGeneres, Mel Ott, Archie Manning, and Drew Brees have kept the world entertained, while chefs and restaurateurs like Leah Chase and the Brennans sharpened the city’s culinary chops. Legendary Locals of New Orleans pays homage to the notables that put spice in that gumbo.

Available at local bookstores, Walgreens stores, other local shops, Bookshop, and other online outlets. Give history! Support NOLA History Guy December.

 

NOLA History Guy December (6) – Krauss – The New Orleans Value Store

NOLA History Guy December (6) – Krauss – The New Orleans Value Store

Our sixth installment of NOLA History Guy December features Krauss Department Store

NOLA History Guy December

NOLA History Guy December – Krauss

At the end of the 19th Century, the 1201 block of Canal Street consisted of a series of single-family homes. In 1899, Businessman and real estate developer bought those buildings. Fellman demolished those buildings in 1903, building a two-story retail store.

Fellman was a well-established merchant in New Orleans. He started with his older brother, Bernard, running a dry goods shop in the 701 block of Canal. The brothers split, with Leon opening his own store in the Mercier Building at 901 Canal. When S. J. Shwartz acquired 100% of that building, Fellman moved to 800 Canal. While he saw potential for a successful store in the 1201 block, he wasn’t going that far up the street.

Leon invited his nephews, the Krausz brothers, to open their own store in his new building. The brothers changed their last name to Krauss, and opened what the Daily Picayune called “a veritable trade palace” in 1903. Krauss Department Store operated there, eventually occupying two city blocks. The store closed in 1997.

Growth and expansion

Krauss was an instant hit. Since the four Krauss brothers were bachelors, none of them had family to turn the store over to upon their retirement. So, they passed control over to Leon Heymann, their brother-in-law. Leon a New Orleanian with business interests in Houma, married Tekla Heymann. He assumed control of Krauss in 1920. Heymann acquired the entire square block behind the store, as well as the block directly behind that. With help from his son, Jimmy, and brother-in-law, Leon Wolf, Heymann expanded the store to fill the 1201 block, back to Iberville Street.

Christmas, 1952

In the 1950s, J. Phil Preddy managed the store’s displays and advertising departments. Preddy, a talented artist in his own right, created works for the store ranging from ad illustrations to giant murals painted on the front of the store. What better for NOLA History Guy December than Preddy’s Christmas display mural for the 1952 holiday season.

The Book

nola history guy december

For almost one hundred years, generations of New Orleans shoppers flocked to Krauss. The Canal Street store was hailed for its vast merchandise selection and quality customer service. In its early days, it sold lace and fabric to the ladies of the notorious red-light district of Storyville. The store’s renowned lunch counter, Eddie’s at Krauss, served Eddie Baquet’s authentic New Orleans cuisine to customers and celebrities such as Julia Child. Although the beloved store finally closed its doors in 1997, Krauss is still fondly remembered as a retail haven. With vintage photographs, interviews with store insiders and a wealth of research, historian Edward J. Branley brings the story of New Orleans’ Creole department store back to life.

Available at local bookstores, Walgreens stores, other local shops, Bookshop, and other online outlets. Give history! Support NOLA History Guy December.

NOLA History Guy December (2) – the founders of Maison Blanche

NOLA History Guy December (2) – the founders of Maison Blanche

Our second installment of NOLA History Guy December features Maison Blanche.

nola history guy december

Maison Blanche Department Stores – NOLA History Guy December

Simon J. Shwartz was an experienced realtor. He grew up in the family business, A. Shwartz and Son. Simon was the third son of Abraham Shwartz. With two older brothers working with their dad to run the shop in the Touro Buildings, S.J. went up to New York City. He became the store’s buyer. He came home to work in the store in the late 1880s, and married the daughter of Isidore Newman, a successful banker.

After the devastating fire in the Touro Buildings (the 701 block of Canal Street) on February 14, 1892, S.J. moved the family business up the street to the Mercier Building at 901 Canal Street (corner Dauphine). The family then re-built the 701-block store. S.J. was at a crossroads.

Creating Maison Blanche

Shwartz restored the success of A. Shwartz and Son after the fire, but his brother wanted to bring the store back down the street. So, S.J. pitched an idea to his father-in-law. He wanted to open the first true “department store” in New Orleans. Up until this point, “dry goods” stores like his family’s, the Fellman’s, and Daniel Henry Holmes’ store, serviced the city. They were joined by boutiques, like the Krausz Brothers shop at 811 Canal Street. Shwartz wanted to acquire the entire Mercier building, and he needed an investor.

Newman liked S.J.’s concept and backed it. Shwartz purchased the building, evicting Leon Fellman (who moved his store to the Pickwick Hotel Building at 800 Canal). Shwartz remodeled his building’s interior. By the Fall of 1897, he was ready to open.

The “Brain Trust”

Newman’s investment had strings attached. He had Shwartz hire Gus Gus Schullhoefer, Newmman’s brother-in-law, and Hartwig D. Newman, his son. They were smart guys, and gave Newman some eyes loyal to him inside the business. When Maison Blanche opened on October 31, 1897, the Daily Picayune gave over most of their front page to the store’s opening. In addition to details on the store, they profiled the three top executives. Here’s the caption for the image in the paper from the book:

The Maison Blanche Brain Trust. Isidore Newman’s son-in-law, S.J. Shwartz, his brother-in-law, Gus Schulhoefer, and his son, Hartwig Newman, were the first management team of Maison Blanche, from a profile piece in the New Orleans Picayune in 1897.

Into the 20th century

The was a success from the start. While it would be another fifty years until their precious Christmas Mascot, Mister Bingle, made his debut, Maison Blanche quickly earned their tagline, “Greatest Store South.”

Maison Blanche Department Stores

Mr. Bingle 1952

Maison Blanche Department Stores, by Edward J. Branley

From the back cover:

On October 31, 1897, S.J. Shwartz, Gus Schullhoefer, and Hartwig D. Newman–with financial backing from banker Isidore Newman–opened the Maison Blanche at the corner of Canal Street and Rue Dauphine in New Orleans. Converting Shwartz’s dry goods store into the city’s first department store, the trio created a retail brand whose name lasted over a century. In 1908, Shwartz tore his store down and built what was the city’s largest building–13 stories, with his Maison Blanche occupying the first five floors. The MB Building became, and still is, a New Orleans icon, and Maison Blanche was a retail leader in the city, attracting some of the best and brightest people in the business. One of those employees, display manager Emile Alline, created the store’s second icon, the Christmas character “Mr. Bingle,” in 1947. Mr. Bingle continues to spark the imagination of New Orleans children of all ages. Even though Maison Blanche has become part of New Orleans’s past, the landmark Canal Street store lives on as the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.

Available at local bookstores, Walgreens stores, other local shops, Bookshop, and other online outlets. Give history! Support NOLA History Guy December.