2212 Claiborne Ave Demo
2212 Claiborne Ave

This building was previously posted on Squandered Heritage and was approved for demolition. However, the story does not end there. HDLC confirmed that this WAS a Landmarked building. Safety and Permits should not have issued a permit until is went to the HDLC, it should never have gone to HCDRC. HDLC DOES have a representative on the HCDRC and that person should have denied the demo on the property, but we are all overwhelmed.

Architectural Historian, Jack Stewart chimes in;

All of these processes need to change before another tragedy occurs. Unfortunately, I was not aware that the building was posted on the Squandered Heritage web site and that it was up for demolition review. Volunteers like myself or Squandered Heritage can’t possibly police all of our regulatory agencies all of the time. This one is especially tragic because this was an African-American landmark, a music landmark, a theatrical landmark, and a theater building that qualified for inclusion in the planned “Broadway South” program which I had just shown to Roger Wilson

The Gallo Theater opened in 1947 built from plans from 1945. The Gallo family built a small empire on plumbing and also built housing, one assumes from the profile, in Central City. Cental City contains a solid amount of what is now considered, “worker housing”. This is now much more valuable than some new construction because it is built from more substantial material, more substantial than new construction and Modular Housing throughout America because of the special materials available which are no longer available to us today. Fine millwork and Cypress wood mark the difference.

Architect Sam Stone

Sam Stone, Sr. The Gallo was by his sons. The late Sam Stone, Sr. was a pre-eminent New Orleans architect. Among his larger projects were the Hennen (Maritime) building on Carondelet Street (with Sully), the Maison Blanche building, the Masonic Temple, and the First Presbyterian Church on South Claiborne. Just before his death in 1933 Stone prepared the plans for the reconstruction of the French Market.

New Orleans Public Libary.

The theater owners at the time were Jules Savin and Gene Calongne, it was built as one of New Orleans’ “all colored” theaters in a part of the city that harbored many jazz musicians as well. It had no balcony and was constructed of concrete block, accomodating 846 patrons. The Gallo Theater originally had scrolled detailed above the marquee. The marquee was intact til it’s death last week, when it advertised Cash America, a pawnshop, which was looted post-Katrina.

Councilwoman Stacy Head alerted us after the fact that this was the old Gallo Theater. No one on the HCDRC Committee brought this up at the demolition review meeting. We have only two people on the committee who may have known. At the time of it’s review, it looked like nothing more than an eyesore of a Pawn Shop to us laymen. There were no red flags. No plaques, nothing. Now it is gone forever. New Orleans is laden with old, historically significant structures. Many of them modernized over the years, disguising their true value.

Karen and I have come to realize, “We slap some lipstick and high-heels on it.” We relegate a building to the level of architechtural whore for our modern use, and discard it without consideration for its historical value. The new structure will be another Urban Wear.

Type(s) Registered: TRADE NAME; TRADEMARK
Registered Name: BROTHER’S

As I have posted previously, many of these are historic to the African American community but they don’t have a line-in on what is happening. We all also suffer from the sort of public burying of these sites through transformation like this one, from a Theater to a Pawn shop. It’s impossible to keep up now as we try to gather as much information as we can on massive lists of demolitions througout the city.

Thanks to Jack Stewart for the historical background on this property.