At the corner of Toulouse and Bourbons Streets is where you’ll find the grounds that where once home to the French Opera House, one of New Orleans’ most opulent buildings of its time. Built to resemble an 18th century Greek revival building, the French Opera House was a city landmark and the tallest structure in the French Quarter at the time.
The French Opera House was a sight to behold in its day. Built in the 1850s, the opera house was where the crème de la crème of New Orleans’ society could be found during opera season. It was considered an important mainstay of the area’s social night life and a place where all those of any social significants made appearances.
The building was originally commissioned by Charles Boudousquie, the director of the opera house, which was then located in the Orleans Theater. The new opera house was designed by James Gallier, Jr. and was built in less than a year’s time.
What made the French Opera House so unique was that it not only held operas, but it played host to many benefits, receptions, balls, debuts and concerts. Yet in 1913, the opera house found its heydays were over and it finances, or lack of, forced the house to go into foreclosure. An anonymous donor purchased the building and gifted it to Tulane University.
What should have been a new chapter in the life of the French Opera House turned out to be its last chapter. Soon after being rebuilt, the building that once stood so tall and imposing in the French Quarter was the site of a fire, which caused the house to go up in flames, never to be rebuilt.
While the opera house no longer stands, its grand presence can still be felt. Pictures of the French Opera House give you glimpse back in time, when New Orleans high society enjoyed the sounds and sights of the French Opera House.