The Jewish Community Center has been a presence in New Orleans since 1855, when it formed under its first name: The Young Men’s Hebrew and Literary Society. It became the Young Men’s Hebrew Association in 1891, and in 1895 the organization’s first building was built on the corner of St. Charles Avenue and Clio Street. As it is now, the building was open to all the people of New Orleans, regardless of religious affiliation, and hosted lively debates and musical performances.
A fire destroyed the first building, and it was replaced in 1939 on the same site and renamed the Young Men and Women’s Hebrew Association. After another fire burned down that building eight years later, rather than rebuilding again, a new location was chosen: the Jewish Children’s Home at 5342 St. Charles Ave.
In 1948, the newly renamed Jewish Community Center became a part of the Jewish Children’s Home, which also had a long history in New Orleans. Opened by the Hebrew Benevolent Society in 1856, it was the first and only Jewish children’s welfare organization in the country. The home was open to children from seven southern states; there they were housed, cared for and educated through high school and beyond.
The building into which the JCC moved in 1948 had been built in 1887, and was designed by well-known architect Thomas Sully, who designed many residences along St. Charles Avenue, as well as many public buildings around New Orleans.
The JCC and the Jewish Children’s Home remained partnered until the 1960s, when the building was demolished and replaced with the present building, designed by famous New Orleans modernist architectural firm Curtis and Davis.