Wednesday, November 25, 2015

New Orleans State of Mind (1940)

According to various reports, New Orleans architecture was a big hit in New York during the spring of 1940.

Bourbon Street's Old Absinthe House Bar (shown above) was reproduced at the World's Fair in Flushing Meadows. Lucien J. Cazebonne claimed that the reproduction was an exact copy of the original bar. The facsimile was erected in the "Gay Old New Orleans" section of Michael Todd's show featuring Gypsy  Rose Lee.(1)

In Manhattan, architect Max Bohm and painter Tony Sarg remodeled a Greenwich Village tenement row to resemble the Vieux Carre:

"Wide bands of ornamental iron connecting the tiers of balconies at each end and at regular intervals have built up in the mind the idea that they are not just emergencies to be used in the event of fire but are a substantial part of each apartment. The balconies are wide as well as long. The suspended flower baskets also help to fix in the mind the New Orleans atmosphere.

"Just inside the entrance door which is not in the center of the facade but slightly off to one side, are murals, scenes of New Orleans. The old Absinthe House is detected in one corner of the group. Sketches of doors leading into interior courts and arcaded sidewalks near Jackson Square cover one wall panel. On the opposite side of the river is a view of a Mississippi river packet discharging cotton on the levees. This serves to introduce the lobby, which runs parallel to the front of the building. Iron grille, stone flooring, hanging balconies, arches and one large palm complete the picture."(2)

The New York Herald-Tribune lauded Jane Street apartment owner Arthur Rule's taste.

(1)"Orleanian Goes to New York to Show Famed Bar." The Times-Picayune 10 May 1940.

(2)"New Orleans Features Used to Make New York Rehabilitation Distinctive." The Times-Picayune 21 April 1940.

Image above: Walter Cook Keenan. Old Absinthe House. 238 Bourbon Street, New Orleans, LA. 18 November 1944. This and other Bourbon Street photographs are online via Tulane University Digital Library's Bourbon Street, 1944-1952.

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