Krauss 1938 shows the badge of the Eighth National Eucharistic Congress.
The Catholic Church in the United States held its Eighth National Eucharistic Congress in New Orleans. The Congress ran from 17-October to 20-October, 1938. Since Krauss Department Store stood next to the Southern Railway passenger terminal on Canal Street, the store put up the logo for the Congress. Yes, the Krauss brothers were Jewish. Yes, they turned the store over in 1920 to their Jewish brother-in-law, Leon Heymann. No, that didn’t matter, when all those Catholics got off trains, emerging into the Canal Street sunlight, next to their store.
The Catholic Church holds large events called Eucharistic Congresses. While synods and such are political/business events, a Eucharistic Congress is for the faithful. These events included meetings, seminars, lectures, and, naturally, Mass. The ultimate event for a Congress was usually a big, outdoor Mass for hundreds, even thousands of attendees.
Shopping and Trains
Krauss 1938 promoted the Eucharistic Congress that year. The Southern Railway ran a special train, from Washington, DC, to New Orleans, prior to the opening of the Congress. That special run transported Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops, and others from the Northeast to New Orleans for the event. Other trains brought clergy and lay attendees to the city from across the country.
While trains converged upon all five passenger stations, Terminal Station at Canal and Basin Streets concerned Krauss 1938 the most. This passenger terminal serviced trains from Southern Railway and Gulf, Mobile, and Ohio. So, Catholics from all destinations in those systems ended their journey to the Congress on Canal Street. Right next to Krauss.
As attendees got off the trains, many naturally realized they forget this or that from home. A full-service department store right next to the station attracted these folks. Guests at nearby hotels like the Roosevelt walked over to Krauss for shopping and souveniers. That huge logo welcomed them with open arms.
Krauss 1903 was the first year of the store’s operation.
Front-page ad in The Daily Picayune for Krauss Department Store, May 15, 1903. The store opened to the public in April of 1903. So, at this point, Krauss was about a month old.
The ad features a “Special Sale of House Furnishings,” mostly linens and other bedding accessories. The Krauss Brothers had been in the dry goods business for years, prior to opening their store. Their network of wholesale connections along the east coast was extensive. Throughout the store’s history, the company acquired lots of merchandise for quick sale.
Krauss appeared quite different in May, 1903, than it did when it closed in October, 1997. The original store was just the two-story front section, facing Canal Street, in the 1201 block. Leon Fellman purchased the buildings fronting the 1201 block in the late 1880s. He sat on the property for about ten years. At that time, Rampart Street, the northernmost part of the French Quarter, stood as a hard boundary for retailers.
When Fellman learned that the New Orleans and Northeastern Railroad planned to build a passenger rail terminal in the next block, he tore down the existing buildings. Prior to 1908, the railroad terminal at Basin Street connected Canal Street with Spanish Fort. The NO&NE operated out of the terminal on Press and Royal Streets, in the Ninth Ward. The move to Canal Street promised to boost the neighborhood. The 1201 location marked the entrance to the Storyville District.
Fellman built the initial two-story store. Since he already had his own store at 800 Canal (corner Carondelet), Fellman convinced the Krauss brothers to lease the property. Two of the four brothers operated a store in the 801 block of Canal, closing it in 1901. The four came together to operate the store at 1201. They turned the store over to their brother-in-law, Leon Heymann, in 1920.
Krauss warehouse building on Iberville Street supported the store.
Krauss warehouse building
The Krauss Company used this seven-story building at 201 N. Front Street (Front and Iberville) as warehouse space in the 1930s to the 1960s. The store, located at 1201 Canal, was only in the block between Canal and Iberville at the time. The building was originally part of the Louisiana Sugar Exchange complex, until that business closed in the 1930s. The photo is undated, but the Frank Studios woody at the bottom right places it in the early 1950s.
The Louisiana Sugar Exchange stood on Iberville and Front Streets from 1883ish until the early 1930s. The seven-story warehouse stood next to a ten-story “filter house.” Sugar syrup required filtration to remove impurities. Large plants use gravity to filter the product. Once the syrup was filtered, the plants processed it. They barreled the product as molasses, storing it in the warehouse. Molasses was easy to ship.
By the 1930s, sugar producers moved away from downtown New Orleans. They built larger processing facilities up or down the river. The filter house and warehouse stood unused.
Leon Heymann and Krauss
Krauss Department Store opened on Canal Street in 1903. The company expanded from the original two stories in 1911, adding a five-story extension. Leon Heymann, President of the Krauss company (and brother-in-law to the original four Krauss brothers) eventually acquired the entire 1201 block of Canal Street, back to Iberville. He then acquired the block behind the store, from Iberville to Bienville Streets. While he planned a service/warehouse building for that second block, World War II slowed that down. The second building didn’t happen until 1952. So, the warehouse space down by the river was an important part of the business.
Into the 1960s
The Krauss Company sold the 201 N. Front building after the completion of the service building behind the store. The 201 N. front building changed hands a few times in the 1960s and 1970s. Folks may remember the building as the location of “Victoria Station,” a train-themed restaurant where diners ate in railcars (as well as in the building).
The old warehouse building now houses the One11 Hotel, and its Batture Bistro and Bar.
This photo is via HNOC. Tip of the hat to Mike Scott for his 2020 article about the building in Da Paper.
Krauss discount shoes, a staple of the department store.
Krauss discount shoes
Ad in the Times-Picayune, 27-March-1955, for Krauss Department Store. Krauss announced a new “Discount Shoe Department” here, in a Sunday edition of Da Paper. While I usually prefer to make blog posts that focus on images, maps, etc., there are times when a newspaper ad reveals a lot about the culture of a New Orleans institution. Even Krauss discount shoes.
$2 shoes! This is the stuff for which Krauss was legend. It goes back to the four founding brothers. The Krauss brothers were bachelors. They clearly enjoyed going off on jaunts to New York periodically. On those outings, they scored merchandise from inside the city’s garment district.
Fire sales offered opportunities for Krauss. The usual procedure was to write off an entire lot of goods if it came close to a store or warehouse fire. Sure, a percentage of the lot had to be thrown out. The manufacturer or store recovered the value of the entire lot, however. Insurance covered most, if not all, of the merchandise.
Send it to New Orleans
It wasn’t just fire sales. Stores along the East Coast wrote off things that didn’t sell, weren’t as stylish, etc. Deep-discounting such merchandise didn’t help. Customers avoided those items. Women preferred to wear popular items (imagine that). Going to church in shoes everyone knows were deep-discounted because they didn’t sell? Nah.
The brothers rolled with this. Women in New Orleans never saw those shoes, dresses, etc. Wearing discount shoes to Canal Street? Not a problem. Who knew? And the price was right.
Into the 1950s
So, the brothers jumped at opportunities. The store gained the reputation of quality goods at affordable prices. The company adopted the casual strategy as company policy. While a trip to New York by a Krauss yielded profit, a permanent presence continued it. The company set up a buyer’s office in NYC. The buyer kept his ear to the ground. Krauss jumped at bulk-purchase opportunities.
After the expansion of the store in 1952, this strategy grew. From the original two floors of 1903 to filling out the full block of 1201 Canal, Krauss maintained good warehouse and stockroom space. Then the second building opened in 1952. They moved all the warehouse space to the building between Iberville and Bienville streets. The Canal Street front became more retail floor space. Bring in the $2 shoes!
NOPSI 801 outbound to the Cemeteries in the Spring of 1953.
Our friend Aaron Handy III brings us a Canal Street photo with a bit to unpack! Here’s Aaron’s caption from the Facebook group, Vintage New Orleans Transit:
NOPSI Perley car 801, assigned to Tulane Belt, passes Krauss on Canal Street as she heads outbound for the cemeteries in 1953, not long before she was consigned to the scrap pile in April of that year.
The 800-series arch roof cars date back, like the 900s, to 1923-24. New Orleans Railway and Light Company purchased arch roofs from Southern Car Company in 1915. Perley A. Thomas took his designs with him when he left Southern Car Company. The reorganized utility and transit company for the city, New Orleans Public Service, Incorporated (NOPSI), purchased more arch roofs to supplement the 1915 acquisitions.
800s vs 900s
Perley A. Thomas Car Works delivered the 800s first. They received feedback from NOPSI engineers and motormen. This feedback resulted in design modifications. The 900-series reflects those changes. The most visible change from the 800s was powered doors. The motorman and conductor used a manual handle to open 800-series doors, like you see on an old-style school bus. The 900s sport powered doors.
NOPSI 801 Scrapped!
Aaron notes that the company scrapped NOPSI 801 in April, 1953. By that Spring, only the Canal Street and St. Charles Avenue lines ran streetcars. NOPSI replaced streetcars with buses on all other transit lines by then. NOPSI scrapped the 800-series cars still in service. By May, 1964, when Canal converted to bus service, all but 35 of the 900-series were sold or scrapped.
The unidentified photographer catches NOPSI 801 as it passes Krauss Department Store, at 1201 Canal Street. The streetcar just passed Terminal Station, the passenger terminal used by Southern Railway and the Gulf, Mobile, and Ohio Railroad. Trains for these railroads departed the tracks behind Terminal Station. They turned north, traveling parallel to St. Louis Street in Mid-City. The trains progressed to the “Back Belt,” then out of town over the Southern (now Norfolk Southern) “five-mile bridge” over Lake Pontchartrain.
This photo captures Terminal Station during its last full year of operation. Construction of the new Union Passenger Terminal would be completed in 1954. Terminal Station, along with four other passenger rail stations, merged their traffic into UPT. The city ordered the stations demolished, lest the railroads have second thoughts on the union station.
Krauss Sugar Bowl 1955 presented store ads for all sports.
Krauss Sugar Bowl 1955
Undated photo of a display at Krauss Department Store, December, 1954 to January, 1955. The display presented equipment and memorabilia from the various schools participating in the Sugar Bowl events. The sign at the bottom says, “Whatever your sport, you’ll find ‘Top Flite” EQUIPMENT — in Krauss Fine Sporting Goods Department – 4th Floor.
The 1955 Sugar Bowl Classic
The 20th Annual Sugar Bowl Classic football game featured Navy (the US Naval Academy) versus Ole Miss (the University of Mississippi). The teams played in Tulane Stadium on Saturday, January 1, 1955. The Midshipmen defeated the Rebels, 21-0. Joe Gattuso of Navy earned the MVP award. A crowd of 80,190 watched the game in the Uptown New Orleans stadium. ABC presented the game live.
While the football game is the biggest part of any Sugar Bowl Classic, schools compete in other sports over the holiday break. This Krauss Sugar Bowl 1955 display lists the sports and schools:
- BOXING – Maryland vs LSU – Dec 28 – 8:30pm – Municipal Auditorium
- TENNIS – Dec 28 – 29 & 30 – New Orleans Country Club – Matches begin 10am, Tues & Wed – 1pm Thursday
- BASKETBALL – Wed Dec 29th and Thurs Dec 30th – Loyola U Field House. Games begin at 7:45pm and 9:30pm each night. First Parings – Loyola vs Notre Dame – Bradley vs Holy Cross
- TRACK – Friday, Dec 31 – 2:30pm – City Park Stadium
- FOOTBALL – Saturday, Jan 1 Navy vs Mississippi Tulane Stadium
- REGATTA – Fri Dec 31st 12:30pm & Sunday, Jan 2, 10am at the SOUTHERN YACHT CLUB
So, the Sugar Bowl Classic offered a wide range of sporting excitment.
Sports and Sugar
This display presented more team memorabilia than sports equipment. Let’s face it, visitors aren’t looking to buy basketballs. Photos, autographed balls, and other items attracted the fans. Packages of Domino’s Sugar remind visitors of the connection between sugar and the city.
Krauss Sugar Bowl 1955 was the first classic where the train station next to the store was closed. Terminal Station, a neighbor to Krauss since 1908, moved operations to Union Passenger Terminal in 1954. So, visitors riding Southern Railway and Gulf, Mobile, and Ohio emerged from their trains at the brand-new station on Loyola Avenue.