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Sat, 05.06.1961

The Preservation Hall (New Orleans), Opens

French Quarter, 2008

*On this date in 1961, The Preservation Hall was founded. This is an American jazz venue in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana. The building is associated with a house band, a record label, and a non-profit foundation.

Regarding its location history, Antoine Faisendieu bought the lot from Guillermo Gros in 1803 and built a tavern, selling it in 1809 to Pierre and Barthelemy Jourdain. A sale in 1812 advertised a "house lately belonging to M. Faisendieu, $4000 cash and two years of notes." In 1816, when the Orleans Ballroom burned, this building also burned. According to an act of sale, architects Gurlie and Guillot bought the lot and rubble for $5000 and sold the property to Agathe Fanchon, femme de couleur libre, for $13,500 a year later.

She owned the property until 1866. In the first half of the twentieth century, the service wing and patio were home and office to photographer "Pop" Whitesell. In the 1950s, art dealer Larry Borenstein from Milwaukee managed Preservation Hall in the French Quarter as an art gallery, Associated Artists. To attract customers, he invited local jazz musicians to play for tips. After a time, the music started drawing more attention than the art.

In May 1961, Borenstein turned management over to Ken Grayson Mills and Barbara Reid, who turned it into a music venue and named it "Preservation Hall." After their honeymoon in 1961, Allan Jaffe and his wife Sandra visited to hear some traditional New Orleans jazz. The Jaffes were from Pennsylvania. Allan Jaffe was a tuba player who had graduated from the Wharton School of Business in Philadelphia, while his wife worked at an advertising agency. They attended concerts, grew to love the French Quarter, and stayed longer than intended.

Borenstein asked if they wanted to manage Preservation Hall, and they agreed, taking over in September 1961. Allan Jaffe hired local musicians whose ages ranged from the 60s to the 90s. Many were struggling with poverty, racism, and illness. At first, the Jaffe's served no alcohol, used no amplification, and refused to advertise. In 1963, Allan Jaffe began to tour with bands in the US and other countries. These tours included pianist Sweet Emma Barrett, trumpeter Kid Thomas Valentine, brothers Percy Humphrey and Willie Humphrey, pianist Billie Pierce and her husband, trumpeter De De Pierce. The most popular was clarinetist George Lewis, whose reputation preceded the Hall. Fans from all over the world came to New Orleans to hear traditional jazz.  

The Preservation Hall Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization. They work with Preservation Hall's educational initiatives, including private lessons to youth taught by New Orleans jazz musicians. They coordinate group lessons with the Preservation Hall Junior Jazz Band, present workshops during Preservation Hall Jazz Band tours, or maintain the ever-growing Preservation Hall archives.

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