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Beams and Brews visits Octavia Books

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Octavia Books owners Tom Lowenburg and Judith Lafitte are renovating the historic building that is home to their local bookstore and an adjacent café. The design provides “more space for holding public events, displaying books and enjoying a cup of coffee or meal with friends,” according to NANO Architecture | Interiors, the project architect and designer.

The bookstore’s retail space will double in size, and a connecting door will allow patrons to peruse the bookshelves after enjoying a meal at the café . The project includes many modern upgrades, including solar panels, but also was particularly sensitive to the building’s historic features.

The main building, at the corner of Laurel and Octavia streets, was built in 1896 and housed P. Draube’s Sons, a grocery and barroom, for more than 50 years, while the Draube family resided on the second story. Over the years, the building has seen multiple additions and renovations.

The first addition was the single-story brick building that was attached to the main structure shortly after it was constructed; this portion still contains the sign for Draube’s on the façade. The next update was the result of a fire in 1910, and in the early 1980s, then-owners Gayle and Thomas Bird renovated the property. (Gayle Bird is now Gayle Benson.)

Lowenburg and Lafitte have owned the property since 1992, and they extensively rebuilt and renovated the bookstore space in 2000 before opening Octavia Books. That renovation, which also restored many of the building’s historic materials, was featured in New Orleans Magazine and won a 2001 Golden Hammer Award from the mayor’s office for best adaptive commercial reuse.

During the current renovation, the layout of the entire complex will change again, as the bookstore takes over the space that was previously used by a Judo studio. The renovation utilized historic rehabilitation tax credits and will be completed in October.

The PRC’s Beams & Brews offers a chance to view the property inside and out, hear from the project’s managers and enjoy free drinks.


The PRC’s Beams & Brews series is generously supported by Nola Brewing.

Date & Time: September 15th, 5:30-7pm
Location: 513 Octavia Street- Google Map
Cost: Free for PRC members, $10 for nonmembers
*PRC membership includes free admission to all Beams & Brews events. Become a member today!




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September 15, 2022
5:30pm — 7:00pm
Free – $10.00
Event Category:


Octavia Books
513 Octavia Street
New Orleans, LA 70115 United States
+ Google Map