Old Metairie – 800 Metairie Road then and now

Old Metairie – 800 Metairie Road then and now

Old Metairie

old metairie

800 Metairie Road, 1962 (Franck Studios photo)

Old Metairie, Metairie Road, near the railroad tracks.

This is a Franck photo of the strip shopping center at 800 Metairie Road in 1962. I went there a bit with my parents as a kid, when we lived on Bonnabel Blvd and Dream Court. Daddy preferred making groceries at Schwegmann’s rather than Winn-Dixie, but we went to the K&B on the right-hand side of this photo a good bit.

Evolution of 800 Metairie Road

The Do Drive In was across the street. Like all drive-ins, as property values increased, the owner usually sold out, or subdivided the property themselves. In the case of the Do, the theater was replaced by a condo development, DeLimon Place. Next to it, another shopping center appeared, Old Metairie Village.

K&B

The Katz and Besthoff shifted locations, from the right side of the shopping center to the left. This store converted to a Rite Aid when that chain bought out K&B. My memories of the drugstore are more from the 1980s. The western end of the shopping center then became a McDonald’s. When the fast food joint closed, PJ’s Coffee took over. The patio of the coffee shop still has the jail-like fence that was the “play place” from the McDonald’s.

Winn-Dixie to Langenstein’s

Old Metairie

800 Metairie Road, now. (Google Maps)

The Winn-Dixie closed, leaving the grocery store footprint open. The uptown grocery, Langenstein’s, opened their second location here.

Other stores

The loading dock on the side of the K&B closed in when the store moved. Now, the western side of the shopping center is home to a number of small businesses. The larger stores needed more parking and access. Maison Blanche, for example, expanded from the city to Airline Hwy.

The laundromat next to the Winn-Dixie closed at some point in the 1970s. Radio Shack took its place. I worked at that Radio Shack in 1981. I taught high school, and Radio Shack was my summer gig. The store was the smaller, neighborhood type. We set up one of the high-end audio systems in the bay window in front. I blasted the tunes and read books, sometimes for over an hour, uninterrupted. It was easy to flip down the music quickly when someone came into the store. By that fall, my friend who was the manager got promoted to the Radio Shack in Lakeside Mall. I went along for the ride, better commission.

What are your memories of 800 Metairie Road?

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Hidden Talents


Dragon’s Danger


Maison Blanche Department Stores


Legendary Locals of New Orleans


Brothers of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans


New Orleans Jazz


New Orleans: The Canal Streetcar Line

 

Elysian Fields House, 1842

Elysian Fields House, 1842

Elysian Fields House 1842

elysian fields house 1842

House at the corner of Elysian Fields Avenue and Levee Street, from an 1842 Plan Book. (Courtesy New Orleans Notarial Archives)

Elysian Fields House 1842

This is a house on Elysian Fields Avenue, between Levee and Victory Streets. “Levee Street” was the earlier name of Decatur Street. “Victory Street” is now Chartres Street. The house is in the French Colonial style. The property is fenced-in, with out-buildings surrounding a formal garden. The block is now a light industrial facility.

The train tracks in front of the house were part of the Pontchartrain Railroad. The railroad ran from a station at Elysian Fields and Chartres, out to Milneburg, at Lake Pontchartrain. So, the Pontchartrain Railroad depot is just behind where the artist stood for this illustration.

Plan Books

This image is a great example of the rabbit holes I fall into when researching something for a fiction project. I’m writing two stories that are set in 19th Century New Orleans. While one takes place in 1820, the other at the outbreak of the Civil War,  I’m always browsing various sources for inspiration. There’s a version of this image in the Commons. It’s a photo reproduction from the book, New Orleans Architecture, Volume IV, the Creole Faubourgs (Pelican Publishing Company, 2006). I own a copy of the ebook, so I used the image from that source, enhancing it a bit with GIMP.

The illustration is part of a “Plan Book,” a set of drawings done as a legal record of a piece of property at the time of a sale. So, Plan Books were a part of real estate transactions going into the 1890s. After that, photographs were used. Nowadays, an appraiser photographs the property with a smartphone. In addition to documenting legal transactions, the Plan Books give us great insight into life in 19th Century New Orleans.

Background

The surveyor for this plan book was Benjamin Buisson. The illustrator was Charles A. de Armas, The New Orleans Notorial Archives, maintain the plan books. The Archives are part of the Clerk of Civil Clerk’s office. This item is Plan Book 21, Folio 23.

The Touro Buildings on Canal Street – Podcast

The Touro Buildings on Canal Street – Podcast

The Touro Buildings

Touro Buildings

Touro Buildings, 1873 (public domain image courtesy THNOC)

The Touro Buildings – Canal Street Retail

This pod begins a series we’ll be presenting on the connections between Krauss Department Store and other merchants up and down Canal Street. The logical place to start is the 700 block of Canal Street, between Royal and Bourbon Streets. From it’s beginnings as the first location of Christ Episcopal Church, to the end of the 19th Century, the 700 block is the story of the Touro Buildings and the merchants who set up shop there.

Touro Buildings

Second Christ Episcopal, Bourbon and Canal (public domain image courtesy THNOC)

Christ Episcopal

Touro Buildings

700 Block of Canal Street, ca 1842. (public domain image courtesy THNOC)

Christ Episcopal was founded in 1805. They built their first church on Canal and Bourbon in 1816. That church lasted about 25 years. Because Protestant Americans kept moving to New Orleans, they outgrew the church. So, the chapter demolished the first church. They built a second on the same corner. The second church looked like a Greek temple, with six massive Ionic columns. The second church serviced the congregation until 1846. The chapter needed more land for a larger church. They purchased the corner of Canal and Dauphine, in the 900 block of Canal Street.

The chapter sold the second church to businessman Judah Touro. Touro worked to buy up the 700 block of Canal. While he acquired the rest of the block, he set up Temple Sinai in the church in the 700 block. While Touro wrapped up the 700 block, he moved Temple Sinai further uptown. He demolished the buildings in the 700 block of Canal. He built the “Touro Buildings,” a set of four-story buildings with shared walls, townhouse-style. Touro opened the buildings for lease in 1852.

A. Shwartz and Sons

Touro Building

Sanborn Fire map of 700 block of Canal St, 1856 (public domain image courtesy Tulane Howard-Tilton Library)

Abraham Shwartz was born in 1820. He opened his store, A. Shwartz Dry Goods, in the 1840s. In 1852, he moved into the newly-opened Touro Buildings. So, the store become A Shwartz & Sons in the 1870s, when Abraham’s firstborn, Nathan, joined the company. Abram’s second son, Leon, soon followed. When third son Simon was old enough to join the company, he traveled to New York, to become the company’s buyer in that city.

Bernard and Leon Fellman

Touro Buildings

Touro Buildings, 1880s. (S.T. Blessing photo in the public domain)

Bernard and Leon Fellman came to New Orleans in the 1860s, and opened their first store in the Touro Buildings in 1873. In 1878, they expanded from the first store at 133 Canal, opening a second store down the block at 129 Canal. In 1889, The brothers split. Leon bypassed the 800 block of Canal, moving to the Mercier Buildings in the 900 block. So, Bernard closed 133 Canal, keeping 129 Canal as B. Fellman Dry Goods.

The Fire, 16-February-1892

Touro Buildings

Fire in the 700 block of Canal Street, 16-Feb-1892 (public domain photo courtesy THNOC)

Almost the entire 700 block of Canal Street, the Touro Buildings, were destroyed in a fire on February 16, 1892. The fire burned out both the Shwartz and Fellman stores. The impact of the fire was dramatic. Abram Shwartz died weeks later, of a heart attack. The family always said the loss of the store killed him. Bernard Fellman’s store burned as well. While Bernard’s health was not good before the fire, the circumstances did not improve him. He passed away on September 3, 1892. His family did continue to operate the store into the 20th century.

The MB Book!

Maison Blanche Department Stores

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fishing Shack in the Rigolets, artist Jane Smith Ninas

Fishing Shack in the Rigolets, artist Jane Smith Ninas

Fishing Shack in the Rigolets

Fishing Shack in the Rigolets

Fishing Shack in the Rigolets, 1943, by Jane Smith Ninas

1943 – Fishing Shack in the Rigolets

I spent some time this afternoon, looking in a couple of photo collections for local Radio Shacks. It’s part of a new project, a Facebook group for sharing memories of New Orleans stores. The name of the group is New Orleans Shopping, so please feel free to click through and join. So, I didn’t come up with any Radio Shack photos right off, but I did come up with a lot of “shacks”. This painting caught my eye, thought I’d share.

Fishing Camps around New Orleans

We’ve got fishing camps (no Realtor is going to call your grandpa’s camp a “shack”) all over Southeast Louisiana. Some are simple, others are palaces out in the wetlands. The Rigolets pass, along with Chef Menteur Pass, are the two bodies of water connecting Lake Pontchartrain with Lake Borgne. Lots of good fishing and crabbing out along those passes.

Ninas’ painting includes many of the components one would expect in and around a local fishing camp. It’s raised on pilings. Around the shack are various dockside items for keeping and maintaining small fishing boats The shack is on the ground, next to the pass. While most fishing camps on the lake are over water, this shack is on the shore..Usually, a pier connects the camp to shore. Owners of fishing camps in te 1930s-1940s likely kept their boats by the camp. So, there’s a hoist behind the shack, where the boat could be raised. They could work on the boat while out of the water. It’s also a good way to secure the boat, raise it up, then lock down the hoist. These days, it’s more likely the owner puts their boat on a trailer and bring it home.

Jane Smith Ninas

Jane Ninas, nee Smith, is the artist. She married artist Paul Ninas, in 1933, but then left him and married photographer Walker Evans. She passed away in 2005, at the age of 92.

Maison Blanche Airline

Maison Blanche Airline

Maison Blanche Airline

maison blanche airline

Maison Blanche Airline, 1956 (Franck Studios photo)

The first suburban MB – Maison Blanche Airline

When S. J. Shwartz founded Maison Blanche in 1897, MB was a single store on Canal Street. It remained that way until 1947, when the company opened its second location, at Tulane and S. Carrollton Avenues. A year later, the company went out to Gentilly, opening a store at Frenchmen Street and Gentilly Boulevard. In the late 1940s, post WWII, Gentilly was considered a “suburb” with respect to the rest of the city.

The “real” suburbs of New Orleans at that time were around, but did not have the economic significance they would have later. Jefferson Parish had three distinct neighborhoods close to the city: Jefferson, Metairie, and Bucktown. Going downriver from the city, St. Bernard Parish had Arabi, Chalmette, and Meraux. While both parishes had towns further out, these were the ‘burbs.

Getting to Jefferson Parish

maison blanche airline

Tulane Avenue in the 1950s (Morrison Collection, NOPL)

The main conduit connecting modern East Jefferson to New Orleans is I-10, but the interstate highway system was just in the planning stages in the 1950s. President Eisenhower saw the value of the autobahn system in Germany, and wanted that for the US. In the meantime, folks living outside the city proper needed routes to get back into the stores, shops, and other establishments.

mid-city new orleans maison blanche airline

Shopping center at S. Carrollton and Tulane Avenues, 1952

Rather than expand out into Jefferson Parish immediately, MB opened their first store in Mid-City. The Tulane and Carrollton location appealed to the the growning Mid-City and Lakeview neighborhoods, because folks didn’t have to go all the way to the CBD. S. Carrollton Avenue was where Tulane Avenue became Airline Highway. Airline was US Hwy 61, which led out of town and northwest to Baton Rouge. As Metairie began to expand, those folks came to the edge of town to shop at MB.

Opening in the suburbs

Crescent Drive-in on Airline Highway in Metairie, 1950 (Franck Studios Photo)

The property along Airline Highway in the late 1940s was largely undeveloped and inexpensive. In 1950, the Crescent Drive-In opened, along with the Crescent Shopping Center next door. The main reason drive-ins across the country closed was rising property values. The owners would sell to developers, and they’d move the drive-in further out into the burbs. By 1955, this happened to the Crescent. Developers built the Airline Village Shopping Center on the property. The main anchor of Airline Village was Maison Blanche Airline.

MB Airline attracted shoppers from the growing subdivisions along Metairie Road. Folks who lived near St. Martin’s Episcopal and St. Catherine of Sienna churches took Metairie Road to Atherton Drive, and turned towards Airline. They’d cross the railroad tracks (the “back belt”), and ended up right in the back parking lot of Maison Blanche Airline.

Shopping at MB Airline

Maison Blanche Airline

Like the stores on Carrollton and in Gentilly, MB Airline carried the same product lines the main store on Canal Street did. If there was something advertised in the paper that wasn’t available on the sales floor at Airline Village, the store gladly transferred it from downtown, or the customer could arrange for free home delivery.

My personal memories of MB Airline were when we lived in Old Metairie. I was a Cub Scout in the pack that was sponsored by Mullholland Memorial Methodist Church on Metairie Road. My parents would bring me from our house on Dream Court, up Metairie Road and that back route into Airline Village. MB was one of the “official” Scouting stores back then. So, that’s where we bought my uniforms, t-shirts, pocket knives, etc.

Clearview and decline

maison blanche airline

Architectural rendering, Airline Village Shopping Center

MB Airline was a resounding success for the chain well into the 1970s. When Interstate 10 opened and dominated the traffic patterns, Maison Blanche recognized the shift. They opened a new store in the Clearview Shopping Center. That mall is between I-10 and Veterans Boulevard, at the Clearview Parkway exit.

MB Airline declined rapidly after the Clearview store opened. New subdivisions developed between Veterans and the lake. Lakeside Mall and Clearview Mall became the focal points of retail shopping in Metairie. While MB Airline was convenient for residents of “Old Metairie”, everyone else favored the malls. Maison Blanche recognized this, and closed the Airline Village location.

Airline Village Today

maison blanche airline

Celebration Church (Darrell Harden photo)

The main anchor of Airline Village is now Celebration Church, a non-denominational Christian congregation.

Be sure to check out my book, Maison Blanche Department Stores by “liking” our page on Facebook.

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Shop Edward’s bookstore

Edward’s books are available at bookstores everywhere, as well as Amazon, Kobo, B&N, and other online booksellers.

For signed copies of Edward’s books, visit his online bookshop:


Hidden Talents


Dragon’s Danger


Maison Blanche Department Stores


Legendary Locals of New Orleans


Brothers of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans


New Orleans Jazz


New Orleans: The Canal Streetcar Line

 

Canal Street, 1890s

Canal Street, 1890s

Canal Street 1890s.

Canal street 1890s

700 and 800 blocks of Canal Street, early 1890s

The CBD – Canal Street, 1890s – Before electric streetcars

A Mugnier photo depicts an interesting transitional period. Electricity arrived for buildings, but not yet for streetcars. That puts the photo pre-1894, but not much earlier. Mugnier stood on the corner of Canal and Baronne Streets. The left side of the photo is of the 800 block of Canal Street. Building numbers are still on the old system. So, the first address at the river was #1, then 2, etc. That’s how Kreeger’s is #149.

Notice that “S. Kuhn”, the store next to D.H. Holmes (left) has a sign that says “Kid Glove Depot. Kreegers’ sign next door says the same thing. In 1897, the Krausz Brothers specialized in gloves in their shop at 835 Canal as well.

700 Block of Canal

The Touro Buildings, in the 700 block, can’t be seen for the trees. Trees in the neutral ground of Canal Street helped beautify Canal. While they helped at the time, they cover up some of the street rail operations! So, there’s a carpet store at the corner of Bourbon and Canal. Fellman Brothers, in the 700 block, dissolved in 1892. It’s hard to tell if the Fellman store is Fellman Brothers (pre-1892), or B. Fellman. Leon Fellman split with brother Bernard in 1892. He moved his store down to the Mercier Buildings, as did S.J. Shwartz. He split with his family after the 1892 fire at A. Shwartz and Son. Abram passed away, and Simon also opened a new store in the Mercier Buildings.

Streetcars

“Bob-tail” streetcars from the Johnson Car Company sit on either side of the Clay Monument. Clay’s full base is visible. Mules provide the streetcar power. So, when the Canal Street line was electrified, the base was cut back drastically. On the right, one streetcar travels inbound, possibly turning at St. Charles Avenue. Two horse-drawn Hanson cabs sit on opposite sides of the neutral ground

 

Krauss – The New Orleans Value Store

by Edward J. Branley

Heather Elizabeth Designs

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.