Monday, June 10, 2013

Central City 1970

In 1970, New Orleans architect Edward B. Silverstein (1909-1989) received a commission to alter the old Dryades Market building located at the corner of Dryades (now Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard) and Melpomene Streets. He was already very familiar with the historic property, as he had worked on the building twice before, the first time nearly twenty years prior. In 1951, his office was able to secure copies of the original 1911 drawings by City Engineer William Joseph Hardee and his assistant Maurice Woulfe, which had included the design of a large arcade conjoining the downriver vegetable market to the upriver meat market, as well as substantive provisions for reinforcing the Melpomene Street roadbed since it covered a subterranean canal.

The structure had already undergone massive renovations during the 1930s. In 1931, Sam Stone, Jr. (1869-1933) developed plans to widen Melpomene Street for vehicular traffic and remove the lower portion of the arcade. He replaced portions of the foundation and the trussing system, modernized the plumbing, added refrigeration units and significantly altered the interior stalls.

Silverstein's first alterations to the structure were developed in partnership with Leon Weiss (1882-1952). Weiss and Silverstein modernized the Dryades Street facade  by replacing it with multiple storefronts comprised of plate glass windows unified by a porcelain enamel frieze. In the late 1950s, Silverstein further altered some of the stores by adding modern lighting and sound systems.

Economic decline was affecting the structure when Charles L. Franck took this photograph (above/circa 1970). Silverstein hired the photographer to record existing conditions relevant to the former meat market building, as some of the shop owners leasing storefronts desired additional security features. Silverstein made his last alterations by replacing his earlier plate glass windows with a brick veneer and adding roll-up metal security doors.

Image above: Charles L. Franck, photographer. Project Number 874. Circa 1970. Edward B. Silverstein Office Records, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries. This image is issued by the Southeastern Architectural Archive. Use of the image requires written permission from the staff of the SEAA. It may not be sold or redistributed, copied or distributed as a photograph, electronic file, or any other media. The user is responsible for all issues of copyright.