A group of my friends were having a discussion about old movie theaters and mention was made of a theater on St. Claude Avenue called the NOLA Theater. Can you give me any information regarding this theater such as the exact location and the years it was in business?
After you read this, you and your friends will all be 'wiser." Sorry, forgive an old man his corny jokes. The NOLA Theater was at 4000 St. Claude Ave. It was one of a group of theaters operated by United Theaters and opened around 1942. The theater, like many neighborhood theaters, lasted until the construction of the multi-screen theaters in shopping centers and elsewhere. By 1970, the NOLA Theater had closed.
I recently discovered that many of the streets in the Garden District (Erato, Calliope, Melpomene, Thalia, Terpsichore, Clio, Euterpe, etc.) share their names with various muses from Greek mythology who were apparently the daughters of Zeus. What was the inspiration behind naming the streets this way?
First off, you need to know that these streets are not in the Garden District, a relatively small area of Uptown located between First and Toledano streets, Magazine Street and St. Charles Avenue. The streets you are asking about are located a little further downriver in an area that has been dubbed the Lower Garden District.
Originally owned by Bienville, our city's founder, and later by the Jesuits, the Lower Garden District of New Orleans is actually a combination of several neighborhoods including much of what we call the Arts and Warehouse District, the Irish Channel, Annunciation Square area and Coliseum Place. The boundaries are St. Charles Avenue, Jackson Avenue, the Pontchartrain Expressway and the Mississippi River.
The Lower Garden District has many Greek Revival buildings, a legacy of New Orleans' golden age. Throughout the United States, the popularity of the classic style of architecture was evident, but nowhere more than in New Orleans. As the city expanded after the Louisiana Purchase, there was a population explosion and a building boom. Men " Anglo-Americans, Creoles, Irishmen and Germans " grew quite rich in the real estate business.
The downtown area between Canal Street and Howard Avenue developed quickly, and there were buildings in the Classic style in residences and businesses side by side. Above this section of the city was a semi-rural residential area that as early as 1806 was beginning to take shape.
The lucky man who had the pleasure of naming the streets was Barthelemy Lafon, an architect, surveyor and city planner in New Orleans. Lafon, a lover of the classics, was in charge of subdividing four plantations in the Second Municipality between the years 1806 and 1810. His plans were grand, and many of the streets and canals were given fancy names such as Canal des Tritons and Cours des Naiades (river nymphs) " later named St. Charles Avenue " and Dryades (wood nymphs). He also named some streets after the Greek gods: Apollo, Bacchus and Hercules. In addition to the muses you named, he also honored the Greek muses Polymnia and Urania. The streets named after the Muses are still around, except part of Melpomene was renamed to honor Martin Luther King Jr.
Growing up in New Orleans in the mid-1960s, the place to shop for dresses was a shop on Carrollton Avenue next to Camellia Grill. The address was 624 Carrollton Avenue. My friends and I cannot remember the name of the shop. Do you?
Of course, I do. But it's not because Old Blake actually went there to shop. The store you are trying to remember was Selma Moss Inc. Women's Clothing. It was located at 622 Carrollton Ave. and was in business during the 1950s and 1960s.
Next to Selma Moss's was Camellia Grill at 624-26 Carrollton. I remember seeing many fashionable ladies visiting the shop while I was standing in line next door for my burger and pie.