Carver Theater Redevelopment Project

Infrastructure | Under Construction

Built in 1950 as an “exclusively Negro” Theater, the Carver Theater carries important historical significance as one of the first state-of-art Theater for blacks in New Orleans. Noted theater historian Rene Brunet remarked that the Carver was the “best ‘colored’ Theater in New Orleans and perhaps the entire South ... as good as or better than any white Theater in town.” The Carver Theater is recognized on the National Register of Historic Places as having “exceptional significance” because its construction in 1950 was a watershed in the development of first-rate, state-of-the-art theaters for blacks in New Orleans. In its heyday, the Carver Theater was a magnificent building serving a solitary function. The old structure has aged gracefully and once restored will serve as the centerpiece of a cultural renaissance that will stimulate economic development in the surrounding Tremé neighborhood. Located just ten blocks from the French Quarter, proximal to downtown New Orleans, and only a few blocks away from St. Peter Claver Church; the largest African American Catholic Church in the state of Louisiana, the Carver is centrally positioned. Bringing the Theater back into commission will not only restore pride to this structure, but will also fill this historic neighborhood once again with life and energy, playing a vital role in spurring economic activity in the area. Once restored, the project will operate as a live entertainment and special events venue with the primary focus on jazz, big band ensembles, chamber music, operetta, stage plays, dance recitals, weddings, Off-Broadway Shows, and Community Theater. State of the arts technology will allow the facility to be marketed as a prime venue for live audio and video recordings, thus allowing the Carver to serve as a hub for development by local performing artists desiring to participate in the music, film, and entertainment industry. The attention in developing acoustical sound barriers designed to prevent the intrusion of noise from the outside of the facility during performances also has the added benefit of protecting the surrounding neighbors from sounds filtering to the outside. There once was a time in New Orleans when self reliance in the African-American community in New Orleans meant the ability to hold events and social gathering in facilities located in the African-American community. These activities though primarily entertainment and social provided the backdrop for the fabric of the community, established its business entrepreneurial class and provided needed accommodations in a time when African-Americans were not allowed in downtown entertainment and function space. These facilities located in every African American neighborhood in New Orleans as in African-American communities across the United States were often wood frame social halls used for weddings and Mardi Gras functions and small theaters used for movies. They provided a needed refuge from the cruelty and humiliation of segregation. Gone now are the neighborhood movie houses, rickety reception halls, fraternal social halls. It is only now that we realize that these facilities provided an important connection for business and social well being without which inner city New Orleans is less enriched with community vibrancy and cultural/artistic expressions. Businesses that clustered near the vibrant activities providing needed supplies and services are gone; the heart and soul of communities ripped out by demolition balls. New Orleans need neighborhood based facilities that serve as catalyst for neighborhood commercial revitalization. The Carver Theater is such a project. The Carver Theater’s main performance hall will comfortably seat nearly 700 guests with the ability to accommodate another 108 in the adjourning Piano Room, thus allowing conference and wedding planners to the use the Carver as an alternative to large hotel ballrooms. The facility will have 7 full tim


March 5, 2012


Carver Theater, LLC