This story appeared in the November issue of PRC’s Preservation in Print magazine. Interested in getting more preservation stories like this delivered to your door? Become a member of the PRC for a subscription!
The recent revival of the Fine Arts Theater isn’t the only building renovation helping to revitalize the Baronne Street corridor. The once-bustling street — filled with late-19th and early-20th century commercial buildings, grand homes and humble shotgun houses — had struggled with blight and vacancy during the early 21st century. But in recent years, it has seen a resurgence in activity as small businesses return to the neighborhood to set up shop. Renovations of historic buildings have continued to unfold throughout the surrounding area as the historic streetscape continues to roar back to life.
Here is a birds-eye view of some of the local small businesses, renovations and other happenings in the surrounding area.
1733 Constantinople St. (1)
The offices for marketing firm Deveney anchor the main space of the newly renovated Fine Arts Theater building. Its entrance along Constantinople Street features a restored Renaissance Revival-style facade dating to 1917. Newspaper advertisements at the time called it the “the most beautiful suburban theater in the city.” Don’t miss the grotesques — or sculptural decorations of fantastic beasts or humans surrounded by foliage or flowers — on the ornate frieze between brackets, the arched recessed entryway topped with a cartouche and the original movie poster panels flanking the entrance adorned with dentils and crossette frames.
3918 Baronne St. (2)
Lucy Boone Ice Cream will soon open in one of the three new commercial retail spaces on the Baronne Street side of the restored theater. Owners Abby Boone and husband Aaron Schnell started the ice cream business — named after their daughter Lucy — during the pandemic, initially selling online and then selling pints at markets and pop-ups around the city. The interior build-out is still in progress, but the family plans to open the doors to their first brick-and-mortar this fall.
Zee’s Pizza opened in the adjacent storefront at the renovated theater this summer to much fanfare and has quickly become a new neighborhood hot spot. Owner Zander White started the pizza joint as a pop-up during the pandemic and amassed a following with his Northeast-style pies. The new pizzeria is now open for lunch and dinner, Wednesday through Sunday.
Photo by Davis Allen
3827 Baronne St.(4)
Martin Wine Cellar is a longtime neighborhood staple specializing in wine, spirits, gourmet food and gift baskets. The family-owned store has conducted business from the corner of General Taylor and Baronne streets since 1946 and slowly expanded its footprint on the block over the following decades. The original location was demolished after being damaged in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, but it was rebuilt on the site in 2014 with cheers from neighbors.
This Queen Anne-style building, adorned with a lattice arch and decorative shingles, was built in 1891 as the clubhouse for the New Orleans Bicycle Club. Plans published in the Daily Picayune in 1891 show an original design that included a large center turret, terra cotta finials and carved panelwork surrounding second-story windows. In more recent history, the building had been used as a storage facility for Martin Wine Cellar until Hurricane Katrina, after which it sat vacant and was nearly demolished. Neighbors spoke up in opposition of the building’s demolition, and the building was stabilized, but a recent restoration turned the site into a mixed-use building with ground-floor commercial space and upper-floor residential units. A.L. Lowe Custom Framing, a family-run business founded in New Orleans in 1938, relocated to the newly renovated building earlier this year.
Image courtesy of the Daily Picayune archive, 1891.
An adjacent building at 3909 Baronne St. (6) is owned by the same LLC and was renovated at the same time as 3901 Baronne, with two second-floor residential units above a commercial retail space on the first floor. The building dates to the early 20th century — newspaper records show a grocery store with apartments above — and has a rough textured stucco finish similar to the Fine Arts Theater building across the street.
3915 Baronne St. (7)
This early-20th century commercial building originally housed a bakery, newspaper and Sanborn Fire Insurance map records indicate. Today, the bright red building is home to the studio of glass sculpture artist Carlos Zervigon, the photography studio of Olivia Grey Pritchard, and a physical therapy clinic for NOLA Pelvic Health.
3917 Baronne St. (8)
This storefront with a curved parapet was originally an H. G. Hill grocery store that opened in 1928. James Beard Award-nominated pastry chef Beth Biundo is carrying on the building’s culinary legacy with her namesake bakery, Beth Biundo Sweets. She opened here in 2017 and runs a small café at the front of the house with coffee, baked treats and cakes by the slice, as well as a full bakery for special orders.
3919 Baronne St. (9)
This two-story building was once home to a meat market called White Star Market, newspaper advertisements from the 1920s indicate, as well as an adjacent sausage factory with second-floor apartments. Today, the building is home to Staub Window Restorations, a local architectural restoration and preservation company that specializes in historic wood windows and carpentry.
Alltmont’s Fine Custom Framing is a family-run custom framing shop that has operated from the circa-1960s building at 4001 Baronne St. (10) since 2010. Across the street at 4000 Baronne St. (11) is another family-run business, Elizabeth Anderson Catering, which runs its kitchen from the commercial space at the front of a camelback. The site was originally home to Smith’s, a drug store with a soda fountain, which opened in 1926.
Davis Allen is PRC’s Communications Associate and a staff writer for Preservation in Print.