Beams & Brews visits The Dew Drop Inn
Between Jazz Fest weekends, don’t miss this chance to see where Rhythm and Blues came to life in New Orleans. Opened as a bar and barbershop in 1939, the Dew Drop Inn was originally housed in a rented space on the first floor of a two-story residential building. As his businesses grew, Frank Painia purchased the building that housed his bar and barbershop and the single-story residential building next door.
By 1945, the buildings were heavily renovated: this included raising the second building, matching the storefronts, and connecting the two buildings into one complex. The completed renovation housed the barbershop, a nightclub and a restaurant and bar called the Dew Drop Café. Renovations continued into the 1950s to create the hotel portion of the complex on the second story of the combined buildings. Over the years, many additions were added to the rear of the building.
During its heyday, the Dew Drop Inn hosted some of the most popular musicians and actors in the country and was known for welcoming people of all races and identities, famously being the site of many arrests due to allowing “mixing” and “female impersonators.”
Partly due to desegregation as well as the failing health and eventual death of Pania, the Dew Drop Inn slowly began to shutter different aspects of its operations, starting first with the live music venue in 1970. When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, the hotel was the final component to close. The building sat vacant with many attempts, including those by Painia’s descendants, to restore the property. It was even included in the Louisiana Landmark Society’s New Orleans Nine list in 2010, which highlights the most endangered historic sites in the city. The building’s inclusion on the list brought interest but no promising results for the decaying property.
In 2021, Painia’s grandson Kenneth Jackson sold the property to developer Curtis Doucette Jr., chief executive officer of Iris Development and of Level Ground, the development company behind the Dew Drop Inn restoration. Doucette’s goals for the building, which is now individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places, includes a boutique hotel, a music venue, and a bar — just as it once was in its prime. The
construction for the project is led by Ryan Gootee General Contractors, LLC with MacRostie Historic Advisors handling the Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits and Studio Kiro leading the architectural planning and interior design.
Free for PRC members; $10 for non-members. Click here to become a member today.
5:30pm: Doors open
5:45pm: A short presentation is given about the project
6:00pm/Following the presentation: Attendees are welcome to go on self-guided tours of the premises.
7:00pm: Doors close
The PRC’s Beams and Brews series is generously sponsored by Nola Brewing.