Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Still Standing

In the previous post, we mentioned the Coliseum Arena, located at 401 North Roman Street. Built in 1922, the structure is now home to Aluminum and Stainless, whose enormous sign is visible from the I-10.

In early 1921, John Dillon, Frankie Edwards and Al Buja fronted a boxing syndicate, Coliseum Incorporated, to develop a site located on the corner of North Roman and Conti Streets. They instructed the architects to eliminate interior posts in order to provide all fans with unobstructed ring views.(1) The Milwaukee Auditorium and Madison Square Garden were considered as models, since Edwards intended the space to serve multiple uses, including public lectures and musical performances.(2)

Construction was delayed by a labor shortage and tornado damage. Builder August Frank, known for his "Times-Picayune Homes" erected the four-story, steel-trussed white brick-sheathed building. Total costs exceeded $100,000. Featuring four entrances and a balcony, the entertainment venue could accommodate 8,500 people. The Times-Picayune reported that the acoustics were so good that a "moderate toned voice" could be heard from the balcony's rear.(3)

The Coliseum Arena (aka Coliseum Auditorium) opened 21 July 1922 when heavyweight Charley Weinert (1895-1969), "the Newark Adonis," sparred with New Orleans native Martin Burke. Joe Louis (1914-1981), "the Bronze Bomber," attracted a large audience in November 1936.

(1)"New Boxing Arena to be Erected by Local Syndicate." The Times-Picayune 30 January 1921.

(2)"New Coliseum Auditorium Soon Will be Completed." The Times Picayune 23 April 1922.

(3)"New Auditorium to be Ready Soon." The Times Picayune 16 July 1922.

Image above:  "The Coliseum." The Times Picayune 22 April 1922.

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