Mr. Bingle 1952 – Maison Blanche Canal Street

Mr. Bingle 1952 – Maison Blanche Canal Street

Mr. Bingle 1952 – Jingle, Jangle Jingle

mr. bingle 1952

Maison Blanche Canal Street, December, 1952

Mr. Bingle 1952

In 1947, Emile Alline was the display-window manager for Maison Blanche. He took his family up to Chicago that fall, for a family trip. While up there, he applied a professional eye to Christmas displays along the “Miracle Mile.” Alline decided his store needed a Christmas character. He sketched a short snowman. Snowman? Not quite right. How about holly wings, and an inverted ice cream cone for a hat? Now Alline had a snow elf!

Mr. Alline brought the concept to MB management. The little guy captivated everyone. The store featured Mr. Bingle all over its print advertising for Christmas, 1958.

Christmas Spokes-Elf

Mr. Bingle hooked New Orleans. While the other Canal Street stores did Christmas displays, they didn’t have a character. So, Maison Blanche presented Mr. Bingle. Kids loved him. By 1952, the store displayed Mr. Bingle right up front!

Maison Blanche grew from the single store on Canal Street in the post-war 1940s. They opened stores on S. Carrollton Avenue in Mid City and Frenchmen Street in Gentilly. Mr. Bingle flew out to those locations! So, when Alline commissioned the Mr. Bingle puppets, they visited all the stores.

Canal Street in 1952

Maison Blanche anchored the 900 block of Canal Street for almost a century. S. J. Shwartz built the “MB Building” in 1908. So, by 1952, it stood for over forty years. Shoppers entered on the corner of Canal and Dauphine Streets. The entrance on the left of the photo (behind the bus) led to the office building. The first five floors of the building were retail space. The next seven housed a number of businesses. Many doctors set up shop in the MB building.

Santa and Mr. Bingle look down here from the second floor. So, that area was stockrooms. Eventually, the store covered up the second floor windows with year-round displays.

Maison Blanche Department Stores

Mr. Bingle 1952

Maison Blanche Department Stores, by Edward J. Branley

Mr. Bingle tells his story in Chapter 3! Buy the book here!

Single-truck Streetcars on Canal Street, 1905 #streetcarmonday

Single-truck Streetcars on Canal Street, 1905 #streetcarmonday

Single-truck Streetcars were the first electrics in New Orleans

single-truck streetcars

Single-truck streetcars on Canal Street. Teunisson photo, ~1905

Single-Truck Streetcars

Streetcar operating companies phased out mule power in the mid-1890s. So, the single-truck streetcars replaced the “bobtails”, as the first electric cars in the city. “Single-truck” means one set of four wheels. The cars were relatively small. Companies like NO&CRR and NOCRR initially purchased Brill streetcars. They switched to Ford, Bacon, and Davis single-trucks in 1894. The car on the left, running on Prytania, is a Brill. The car running on Annunciation is a FB&D. .

The Prytania Line

The New Orleans City Railroad Company opened the Prytania line on June 8, 1861. The line started at the Clay Monument, Canal Street and St. Charles Avenue. Cars ran initially from Canal, up Camp, to Prytania, to Toledano. NOCRR expanded the line in 1883. Prytania ran up to Exposition Boulevard at Audubon Park. Therefore, it dropped off riders at the Cotton Exposition. So, mule-drawn streetcars operated on Prytania at this time.

While the New Orleans and Carrollton RR operated on St. Charles Line, Prytania became popular, because of Touro Infirmary and the Garden District. The streetcars dropped folks off right at the hospital. Many people living in the Garden District took Prytania in for Canal Street shopping. They avoided the crowds on St. Charles. People called Prytania the “Silk Stocking Line” because of the privileged riders.

Prytania’s first electrics were Brills.  until the 1920s. The line switched to Jackson and Sharp single-truck streetcars. In 1915, New Orleans Railway and Light ran double-truck “Palace” cars on Prytania. The arch roofs eventually replaced those streetcars in the 1920s. NOPSI discontinued the Prytania line in 1932.

Annunciation

Annunciation serviced the uptown riverfront area and the Irish Channel. The Crescent City Railroad Company opened the line in 1863. New Orleans Traction Company electrified Annunciation in 1895. The line started at Canal and Camp, then up Tchoupitoulas, then Annunciation. At Louisiana, the line turned back towards the river and terminated at Tchoupitoulas. The return was different, because of one-way streets. From Louisiana, it ran down Chippewa, then Race, then Annunciation, Erato, Race, Camp, Calliope, then St. Charles to Canal.

The first electrics on Annunciation were Brills painted yellow with brown trim. FB&Ds replaced the brills in the late 1890s. Palace double-trucks operated on Annunciation around 1910. The line merged with Laurel in 1917.

The Mercier Building

The coupla visible in the top right of the photograph is the top of the Mercier Building. Simon J. Shwartz operated his Maison Blanche Department Store in that building. He tore down the building in 1908. The building we know as the Maison Blanche Building (Now the Ritz-Carlton Hotel New Orleans) dates from that time.

Feibleman’s, 1923 – Leon Fellman’s family renames his store

Feibleman’s, 1923 – Leon Fellman’s family renames his store

Feibelman’s replaces Leon Fellman’s upon the passing of the patriarch

Feibleman's

Feibleman’s Department Store, 1923 ad in the Loyola Maroon

Feibleman’s Store

The department store operated at 800 Canal Street, corner Carondelet, for eleven years. The store was Leon Fellman’s until 1920. The store’s name changed when Leon Fellman passed away in 1920. So, the family operated the store under the original German name after that.

The store occupied the old Pickwick Hotel building. In 1897, Leon Fellman lost his lease on his space across the street, in the Mercier building. Simon Shwartz acquired that building, at 901 Canal Street, for his new department store venture. So, Fellman convinced the owners of the hotel to lease the building to him for a store. Shwartz opened Maison Blanche at 901 Canal and Fellman moved to 800 Canal.

Lippman Feibelman

Lippman Feibelman left Germany to join his older brother in New Orleans in the 1860s. His brother already changed his name to Bernard Fellman. Lippman followed his brother’s lead, changing his name to Leon Fellman. The brothers established themselves in the local Jewish retail community. Eventually, they opened a store on Canal Street. The brothers split in 1884, when the Mercier Building opened at 901 Canal. Bernard stayed in the 700 block. Leon opened a new store at Canal and Dauphine.

In 1899, Fellman bought the buildings in the 1201 block of Canal Street. In 1902, he demolished those buildings. So, he built a store in their place. Fellman leased 1201 Canal Street to the Krauss Brothers. The four brothers opened Krauss Department Store there.

The name change

Leon Fellman’s became one of the big stores on Canal Street. When Leon’s health declined in 1918-1919, he worked with the Krauss brothers and their brother-in-law, Leon Heymann, to consolidate The Krauss Company. Fellman sold his interest in the store to Heymann. Krauss became totally family-owned.

Upon Fellman’s passing, his family made several legal moves. They re-organized the corporation what owned the store. The Fellmans changed the name of the store, but with a twist. The family used the spelling, “Feibleman”, rather than the brothers original name, Feibelman.

The family moved the store to the corner of Baronne and Common in 1931. They sold the store to Sears Roebuck in 1936.

I’ve yet to sort out why the family went to such lengths to distance themselves from Leon Fellman.

The ad

This ad is from 1923. Feibleman’s advertised regularly in Loyola University’s student newspaper, the maroon. College students often didn’t have “good clothes”. So, all of the downtown department stores advertised in the Maroon.

More about Leon Fellman

Feibleman's

Krauss – The New Orleans Value Store by Edward J. Branley

Fellman was an important part of the Krauss story. You can learn about it in my book, Krauss – The New Orleans Value Store.

New Orleans Centre – Shopping Downtown in the 1990s #Superdome

New Orleans Centre – Shopping Downtown in the 1990s #Superdome

New Orleans Centre – downtown shopping

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New Orleans Centre

A shopping mall in the CBD? Why not? In 1988, developers opened a mall right next to the (then) Louisiana Superdome. Several new office buildings popped up on the section of Poydras Street between Loyola and S. Claiborne Avenues. Those buildings enticed many companies to leave the “old CBD” buildings with lower rent and easy parking.

There’s always a catch. In this case, it was not enough lunch places. The po-boy places were back in the “old CBD”. The Krauss Luncheonette was a schlep down Loyola. Mother’s was (and still is) all the way down on Tchoupitoulas and Poydras. The neighborhood needed a bunch of food places in a small footprint. The solution? A food court.

The Mall in 1988

New Orleans Centre opened in 1988. The development included not only three floors of shopping, but a fourteen-story office tower. The mall featured two national department stores, Lord and Taylor and Macy’s. New Orleanians knew the stores as New York icons. So, the novelty of New York coming to New Orleans drew suburban shoppers back downtown. That was something Holmes and Maison Blanche never could accomplish!

New Orleans Centre started with approximately fifty stores. There was room for 150. The mall expanded to over 100 stores at its peak.

The Mall and Da Dome

New Orleans Centre offered an interesting opportunity for the Superdome. By 1988, the National Football League understood that Da Dome was the best place for the league’s championship game. While internal politics made designating the stadium the permanent home of the Super Bowl. Many league staffers argued for just that, anyway.

The Superdome presented the NFL with a tempting feature: a hotel, right next door. So, the Hyatt Regency Hotel enabled the league personnel to literally walk to work. They used the bridge connecting New Orleans Center and the stadium. No taxis to the suburbs. No public transit. Just get up, go downstairs, and walk into the Superdome.

ESPN

The sports network set up shop in New Orleans Centre for the 1990, 1997, and 2002 Super Bowls. Setting up in the mall gave ESPN the Superdome as a backdrop behind the anchor desk. Other cities just couldn’t match the visuals. So, the mall gave ESPN the win, no matter which network actually broadcast the game.

CNG/Dominion/Benson Tower

The primary tenant of the accompanying office building was Consolidated Natural Gas (CNG) Producing Company. The company moved from One Canal Place in 1989. The company, now known as Dominion Oil, occupied the seventh through fourteenth floors of the tower.

Hurricane Katrina

The mall declined in the early 2000s. Lord and Taylor closed at that time. The management company leased the nearly-empty third floor to WGNO-TV. Katrina was the final nail in its coffin. The Superdome was a mess, the Hyatt suffered terribly, and the mall flooded. A medical clinic, operated from the Lord and Taylor space, until University Hospital resumed service.

Champions Square

new orleans centre

Champions Square

The late Tom Benson, owner of the New Orleans Saints, bought New Orleans Centre and the office tower in 2009. After the Saints won the NFL Championship in the 2009-2010 season, they planned major changes for the mall. They demolished all of the mall with the exception of the Macy’s footprint. They converted the space into an open-air venue. Champions Square hosts pregame activities for Saints home games, as well as concerts and other events.

Canal Street Architecture – S. H. Kress – classic to “modern” and back

Canal Street Architecture – S. H. Kress – classic to “modern” and back

Canal Street Architecture

canal street architecture

S. H. Kress Building, 921 Canal Street, 1959. (Franck Studios photo)

Canal Street Architecture – S. H. Kress

The S. H. Kress store on Canal Street opened in 1913. It filled the niche between the Maison Blanche building, built in 1908, and the Audubon Building, built in 1910. The store operated from 1913 until 1981. It is now, along with the Maison Blanche building, part of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. Canal Street architecture passed through several phases, but the hotels return to the classic looks.

Kress – “five and dime” stores

Samuel Henry Kress opened his first store, selling “stationary and notations” in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania, in 1887. The store was a success, enabling Kress to expand. He took the concept of “5-10-25 cent” stores to the Main Streets of America, such as Fifth Avenue in New York City, Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, and Canal Street, in New Orleans. While the upfront investment was considerable, the stores were successful. Kress made a good bit of money. He established a family foundation to give some of it back.

The 900 Block of Canal Street

new orleans architecture

900 Block of Canal, 1883. Robinson Atlas Plate 6 (courtesy New Orleans Notarial Archives)

In the 1880s, the 900 block of Canal Street consisted of the Christ Episcopal Church on the corner of Canal and Dauphine. Next was the Grand Opera House. Then several smaller buildings, leading up to the corner of Canal and Burgundy. In 1884, the chapter of Christ Episcopal auctioned their church to the highest bidder. The Mercier family bought the property. The church moved up to St. Charles Avenue and Six Street. This shift brought major changes to Canal Street architecture.

canal street architecture

900 Block of Canal, 1910. The Audubon Building is on the left, then the gap that used to be the Grand Opera House, then the MB Building. (courtesy LOC)

The Merciers demolished the church and built a five-story retail building. Simon J. Shwartz acquired the building in 1897. The Grand Opera House was demolished around 1900. In 1908, Shwartz demolished the Mercier Building. His “new” Maison Blanche opened in stages. Construction finished on it in 1909. A year later, investors acquired the buildings between the Grand Opera House and Burgundy Street in the 900 block.  They built the Audubon Building.  The Grand Opera House was demolished. A gap existed between the Audubon Building and MB for a couple of years. S. H. Kress bought the site of the Grand Opera House, 921 Canal Street. They filled in the gap with one of their five-and-dime stores.

Civil Rights and Kress

S. H. Kress segregated its lunch counters in Jim Crow states. Protesters in Greensboro, NC, targeted Kress as part of their first sit-ins. Protests and boycotts followed in other Southern cities, including Nashville Jackson, MS. Protesters in Baton Rouge targeted Kress for their initial protests.

The Kress store at 921 Canal avoided the protests of other cities. Civil Rights activists focused on the F. W. Woolworth store down the street. While I have no documentation here, I suspect Kress wasn’t targeted because it was next to Maison Blanche. The entrance to the Maison Blanche Office Building was right next to the Kress entrance. Blocking the MB entrance meant blocking access to the offices of a number of doctors and dentists, along with other professional offices. Perhaps activists considered this when choosing to picket Woolworth.

The front facade

Canal street architecture

The 900 block of Canal Street in 1976. The white porcelain covering on the Kress building is visible on the right.

Kress remodeled the Canal Street store in 1960. They covered the original building’s facade with a white, porcelain overlay. The original facade remained underneath. New owners removed the porcelain overlay in 1983. The building returned to its 1913 look.

Sale to Genesco

In 1964, the Kress family sold out to Genesco, Inc. The new owners dropped the Kress business model. So, they expanded the chain, moving into suburban shopping malls. Genesco closed Kress stores, starting in 1980. The Canal Street store closed as part of that first wave. The building passed through several owners. In 2000, the building became part of the footprint of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. While the front facade remains, the interior is now the parking garage for the hotel.

 

 

Maison Blanche Bicentennial – Canal Street Shopping – 1976

Maison Blanche Bicentennial – Canal Street Shopping – 1976

Maison Blanche Bicentennial

Maison Blanche Bicentennial

Maison Blanche Canal, 1976. Leon Winer photo, courtesy Dave Winer.

Maison Blanche Bicentennial

So much 200 in 1976! Like just about every business in New Orleans, Maison Blanche went all-out in 1976 for the country’s 200th birthday. While MB decorated the front of the chain’s flagship store on Canal Street, they also promoted the celebration with sales.

Maison Blanche Bicentennial was a big deal. Advertising and Marketing departments don’t turn down an opportunity to turn a milestone into a sale. They’re in business to get customers in the door.

1776-1976

The Bicentennial was a hot mess of overkill to seventeen-year old me. I graduated from Brother Martin High School in May of 1976. I started the University of New Orleans in June. My senior prom favor has a tag line, “Bicentennial Class”, and the red-and-gold tassel on my mortarboard has a Liberty Bell dangling from it. To say we’d grown weary of All Things Bicentennial would be an understatement.

Take when Professor Ambrose wanted to change the name of the Education Building, on the west side of the UNO campus, for example. Even though the History Department is part of the College of Liberal Arts, the school placed them in the Education Building. Ambrose was the kind of man who took things like the Bicentennial seriously. He led a campaign in the University Sen Save & Exit ate to rename the building. The university listened, renaming it the Bicentennial Education Center.

We shook our heads. Looking back, forty-two years later, it’s not so bad.

Canal Street, 1976

Maison Blanche Bicentennial, part of a bigger red, white, and blue picture. Holmes, Godchaux’s, and Krauss also decorated for the celebration that summer. Some of the smaller stores also added flags and bunting to their facades. The contrast between the purple, green and gold of Carnival, turning into the patriotic displays made for odd combinations.

Transit in 1976

The streetcars departed from Canal Street in 1964. They wouldn’t return until 2004. Maison Blanche Bicentennial meant buses in the “Canal Street Zone”. Most of the time their air conditioning worked. The bus experience at that time was OK. Even though NOPSI operated the system, things ran fairly smoothly. Many people depended on the buses to get to and from the CBD for work.

Working at MB

I missed Maison Blanche Bicentennial as an employee. I started at the Clearview Mall store in 1977. Things were less red, white, and blue by then.