Images of the Old French Opera House

The First Opera House in the United States
Built in 1859, the Frenh Opera House was the cultural center of New Orleans society and
the first opera house in the United States.  It was Greek Revival, designed by famous
architect James Gallier.  The grand auditorium was decorated in red and white and it
seated 1,800 people in four tiers.  Operas have been performed in New Orleans since
1790 and hundreds of operas were performed in the old French Opera House.  For sixty
years, the Opera House was the hub of Creole society.  It burned in 1919 and, in the
Times-Picayune article published the next day, the writer echoed the words of a stunned
city:
 "The heart of the old French Quarter has stopped beating."
The old French Opera House on Bourbon and Toulouse Streets, abt. 1890
Harper's Magazine, 1873
Sketch by C. H. White, 1906
Lobby of the French Opera House - the theatre provided screened boxes for pregnant ladies, ladies who
were in mourning and ladies-of-the-evening (elegantly dressed madams from nearby Storyville).
Sketch of the interior with box numbers displayed - provided as a courtesy to
the customers of Clark and Meade Grocers:  "Fancy and staple groceries, wines
and liquors - Finest French, English and American confections - Main House, 10
Carondelet Street; Branch House, St. Charles Avenue at Napoleon Avenue.
A night at the French Opera, early 1900's
Program from a performance
given in the final season, 1919
Above and below, the day after the fire