New Orleans lost numerous landmarks due to the destruction caused by the federal flood in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.Â The historic Carver Theater on Orleans Avenue was not one of those structures.Â It has already suffered the ravages of neglect and most recently was the site of a medical clinic.
The 59-year-old Carver Theater was at one time one of the premier entertainment destinations for the black population of New Orleans.Â On Sept. 29, 1950, the Carver Theater opened to great fanfare. It was hailed as “America’s first theater for colored patrons” and boasted a “spacious powder room and lounge with a maid in attendance at all times for the comfort of ladies.”
A $7 million renovation, funded by private investment and a combination of federal and state tax credits, is expected to begin in September and be completed by May.
When it reopens, the 16,000-square-foot theater will seat up to 1,000 people and serve as a multi-purpose entertainment facility featuring music, theater, film and special events.Â A 10,000-square-foot building that will serve as a storage facility and include dressing rooms for performers will be built on an adjacent lot in addition to parking areas.
“This project will be one of the best examples of reuse through tax credits in the city, and it will improve the streetscape and general character of the community,” said Eric Cager, director of the Carver Theater Foundation.