Alexander Allison's New Orleans|
Louisiana Division | New Orleans Public Library
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French Opera House, 1905-1910
In this photograph the fabulous French Opera House dominates a vastly different Bourbon Street than the gaudy strip of today. Designed by James Gallier and erected in 1859, the Opera House became the cultural centerpiece of New Orleans both for its musical importance and later for its role in the annual carnival celebration. When it was destroyed by fire in 1919, the building belonged to Tulane University thanks to a gift from William R. Irby. After the fire, the site was used for a while as a lumber yard and also as a parking lot. Winthrop Rockefeller built a hotel, Le Downtowner du Vieux Carré, on the site in the mid-1960s, about the same time he was elected governor of Arkansas. The property has gone through several owners, names, and concepts since then; today it is owned by the Tonti family and operated as the Inn on Bourbon Street.