The late 1940s in New Orleans saw a building boom for new homes, including apartment buildings. One of the largest, built Uptown in 1949, was The Wohl Apartments, on the corner of St. Charles Avenue and Josephine Street. The site had previously been the Coleman Adler home, which was demolished to make room for the 300 families that would have apartments in the new 13-story brick building.

The Wohl, built at a cost of $3 million, was ready for its first residents in March of 1951. Unfurnished studio apartments were $72 per month, while four-room apartments were $95 per month. Model apartments were furnished and decorated by Masion Blanche, and each bathroom showcased the latest craze: pastel-colored tubs, sinks and toilets.

A special penthouse type space was the Far East Suite, described as “probably the most fabulous apartment in the South” and completely furnished and decorated in a mix of Chinese modern décor and antiquities. This affinity for Asian design was also evident in the lobby in 1955, when a nine-foot-tall Chinese idol, complete with a jewel in the forehead, was placed alongside ancient temple doors.

The ground floor had retail spaces flanking the marble lobby. The first tenants were a McKenzie’s Bakery, the Wohl Beauty Salon, the Fur Salon (featuring fine furs for the “prominent ladies of the city”) and the Rumpus Room. This cocktail lounge, described as both swanky and cozy, proved to be a popular spot, partly because of its nightly show featuring jazz pianist Armand Hug.

The Wohl Apartments thrived for the next few decades, with residents appearing in the society pages regularly. However, in the late 1970s, there was talk of the building being sold and used for subsidy housing for the elderly and handicapped. Neighborhood associations spoke out against this, citing the value and historic character of a St. Charles Avenue address; the City Council agreed and rejected the proposal.

The Wohl was sold in 1980 and rebranded as the Garden District Apartments. In 1982 it sold again, this time to developers who converted it into a mixed-use luxury hotel and timeshare called Avenue Plaza, which it remains today.   

The Wohl Apartments, seen here newly completed in 1950, had a building shape and apartment layout that ensured each room had a window to the outside. Building owner and manager Bernard Wohl claimed it was the first building in New Orleans with a “genuine apartment house floor plan,” popular in more modern places like New York City.

Image provided courtesy of Charles L. Franck / Franck-Bertacci Photographers Collection, The Historic New Orleans Collection, 1994.94.2.706