Dear Julia and Poydras,
I recently saw a news bit concerning the opening of the new Silver Slipper Casino in Mississippi. This hit me between the eyes, as old memories came to mind.
My uncle Joseph Columbo opened The Silver Slipper Nite Club at 426 Bourbon St. Later on, he, with my father Anthony “Tony” Porretto, opened the Vanity Nite Club at 300 Bourbon St. It was later closed because the Regal Brewery, which owned the building, needed to expand its operation. By this time my uncle had passed away. Soon after, my father operated the Three Deuces at 222 Bourbon St. He sold out after The War before my brother and I returned from the service. I believe the Silver Slipper was one of the first and oldest clubs in the Quarter. Can you tell me if there is anything in your archives concerning these places?
Frank A. Porretto, Sr.
The Three Deuces, located at 222 Bourbon St., operated during the second half of the 1940s.
According to his obituary, Joe Columbo died in September 1941, at the age of 42. The Times-Picayune article goes on to say that Columbo operated the [Silver] Slipper Club from 1930-’34, before leaving and founding the Vanity Club that same year.
Your father’s club, The Three Deuces, was located at 222 Bourbon St. It appears to have operated only briefly, during the second half of the 1940s.
The Vanity Club, located at 300 Bourbon St., remained in business until the early 1940s. By late 1944 or early ‘45, it was vacant. Shortly thereafter, the Regal Brewery took over the building.
By 1938, a club known as the New Silver Slipper was operating in the 400 block of Bourbon St., but it was a short-lived enterprise, soon replaced by the El Toro Club that, in quick succession, was superceded by the Club Bali. By the late 1940s, a new club at 424-426 Bourbon St. evoked an earlier time, calling itself the Club Slipper. In 1975, when the building was occupied by Your Father’s Mustache, a major fire occurred there. Fortunately, firefighters were able to contain the blaze and prevent its spread to other French Quarter buildings.
Dear Julia and Poydras,
Sometime prior to the Great Depression, my grandfather, Bernard Flynn “Pat” Brennan (not of the famous Brennan restaurateurs family) according to his obituary, “operated the Variety, Happy Land and Hipp theaters years ago, [and] was active in the show business until the advent of motion pictures …”
Can you tell me anything about those theaters?
Patricia “Pat” Carpenter
Once employed as an operator for AT&T, Bernard Flynn Brennan later worked as a travel agent before starting the Brennan Booking Agency in 1912 or ‘13. After leaving the entertainment industry, Brennan worked in the real estate business and, in the years immediately preceding his death, he was employed as a tax consultant. Bernard Brennan died in May 1943, at the age of 58.
The Happy Land, also known as the Happyland, was located at 3130 Burgundy St., between Clouet and Louisa streets. It seems to have opened around 1914, and appears in the 1915 city directory – with Henry Lazarus listed as its manager. The theatre had at least two other managers, Mrs. J. Rouger (circa 1917) and John Bremmer (circa 1918). By 1920, Bernard Brennan seems to have been running the theatre. The 1938 city directory lists 3126-3132 Burgundy St. as being vacant. It appears that the Brennans sold the theatre, since the Happy Land appears with different proprietors in much later directories. In the early 1950s, for example, Mrs. Lenora S. Cheek was its manager.
The Hipp, also known as the Hipp Airdome, was located in the 3500 block of Dauphine St., near Congress Street. It appears to have been in operation by late 1914. It is listed until about 1924 and is absent from the ‘32 city directory. The 1938 city directory shows no listing for the Hipp’s former address, implying that it may have been demolished by that time.
The Variety could be found in the 2200 block of Burgundy St., between Elysian Fields Avenue and Marigny Street. First appearing in city directories around 1920, the Variety seems to have been a short-lived theatre. Active through the mid-1920s, it’s not listed in the ‘32 city directory. In 1938, its address is identified as being vacant.
Hello Julia and Poydras,
Thank you for bringing a bit of New Orleans to me in Austin every month.
I see that you reward question submitters with a brunch at The Court of Two Sisters. My question is about some of the original inhabitants of a home that is now the famous restaurant.
Antoine Dauphin Cavelier purchased the property on Royal Street in 1762. His son, Zenon Cavelier, is said to have built the house in 1818. Antoine was born in Rouen, France, in 1747, and arrived in New Orleans around ‘77. Another famous Cavelier was born in Rouen: the famous explorer Renee Robert Cavelier de la Salle. Do you know if these families are related?
Peggy Shirer Schott
The building at 613-615 Royal St. was probably built a bit later than you’ve been told. It is believed to have been built about 1832, for your ancestor, banker Jean Baptiste Zenon Cavelier. According to The Dictionary of Louisiana Biography, Rene-Robert Cavelier, sieur de La Salle, lived from 1643-’87. He was born in Rouen and was the son of Jean Cavelier and Catherine Geest.
Since your family and La Salle’s share both their surname and a hometown, there’s a possibility that they may be related. Without access to original church and civil records from 17th and 18th century Rouen, I can neither confirm nor deny whether the two families share kinship. Your ancestor was born a little less than a century after La Salle came into this world and families can produce lots of relatives in that amount of time.
If you want real proof about your lineage, you will need to obtain copies of original documents from Rouen, either by writing to the church and municipal archives for that city or you will need to hire a genealogical researcher who can do the work for you. If you try your hand at on-line research, I must warn you. Web sites are like books and newspapers insofar as they may contain anything their authors wish to say. Just because something has been printed, published or uploaded, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s true, accurate or complete. Proceed carefully and examine the evidence before drawing any conclusions.
At least 50 years ago (and, I can’t believe that it’s really that long ago), while I was a student at Tulane University, I did some volunteer work at “The Home for Incurables.” Although I grew up in New Orleans, I’ve been away for 47 years and I can’t exactly remember where it was located. Seems to me that it was somewhere off of Magazine Street.
It housed mostly disabled adults, but there was also one large room that housed many brain-damaged children. I helped the aide to feed these bed-ridden children (mostly they were teenagers). It was a very sad and depressing place where the outside world looked to be a million miles away – and really was for these pitiful “inmates.” It also had the worst name ever given to a residential home for invalids.
What can you tell me about what the history of this Home and what happened to it and its residents?
I am a faithful reader of your column and I love the magazine about the place that I will forever call home – New Orleans.
Elene Beerman Miller
I agree, Elene, that “Home for the Incurables” was a terrible name, The people who came up with it should have been sent to the “Home for the Insensitive.”
In 1893, Council Series Ordinance #7631 (7631 CS) authorized a home for incurables to be established on Henry Clay Avenue, in the block bounded by Patton, Webster and Calhoun streets. The home was built and soon expanded, serving men, women and children, whose medical or mental conditions were determined to be hopeless.
Now known as the John J. Hainkel Jr. Home and Rehabilitation Center, the facility at 612 Henry Clay Ave. has recently re-opened as an Adult Day Health Care Center. Owned and operated by the State of Louisiana, the Center provides families with an alternative way to possibly delay or prevent nursing home placement for their relatives.
I travel Prytania Street frequently and have just realized that we have First, Second, Third, Fourth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Streets – but no Fifth Street. Perhaps that great Oracle of New Orleans, Poydras, could tell us what happened to Fifth Street.
Tony, Poydras does perk up at the mention of the term “fifth” but for the wrong reason. We are trying to get him to lay off the gin.
In 1938, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) sponsored a project to compile lists of changes to street names and addresses in the period from 1852-1938. Gray B. Amos compiled the lists, which are usually very helpful for pinpointing when streets were re-named and identifying the city ordinances that made those changes official. Unfortunately, Fifth Street’s transformation into Washington Avenue seems to have eluded the otherwise efficient Mr. Amos.
According to the WPA list, the transformation from Fifth Street to Washington Avenue is noted in the 1895 city directory. This seemed odd to me, so I checked some older resources. As early as 1845, Washington Avenue was appearing on maps, tucked between Fourth and Sixth Streets. Now that I think of it, I cannot recall ever seeing an old map of Uptown that shows Fifth Street. I wonder if it ever existed or if it is actually a street name that was proposed but never used?