EST | 2001
THE BUILDING is an arts venue and gallery located on Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard (formerly Dryades Street), at the corner of Martin Luther King Blvd (formerly Melpomene Street) . Christian and Connie Labat started building this business when they acquired the property in 2001.
After much effort and years of self-funded improvements, their vision finally came to life – a venue to host visual art, music, workshops, screenings, discussions and private events. This vision is part of an effort to support the on-going revitalization of historic Dryades Street as a reimagined, cultural corridor for the City of New Orleans, all the while maintaining a unique Faubourg Lafayette and Central City aesthetic.
The 3-story property that stands today was constructed in 1866, at the center of the local Jewish and Italian communities. In the beginning, the ground floor housed a tin ware shop (on the Thalia Street side) and a coffee house (on the Melpomene side) which soon thereafter became a popular and notorious saloon, The People's House. The upper stories were apartments. In 1920, it was remodeled into the Dryades Street Branch of Hibernia Bank & Trust Co. And in 1944, it expanded and converted to Sol Katz' Furniture Emporium, and later Barkoff’s Furniture. Then in 1977, it became the local meeting lodge for the Knights of Pythias and Court of Calanthe, an important fraternal organization in New Orleans' black community.
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