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Maison Blanche!

July 18th, 2011

My third book in Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series will be out on Halloween. It’s titled Maison Blanche Department Stores.  The book is a 128-page photo-history of the Maison Blanche chain, which opened its first store in 1982, and was absorbed into Dillards in 1997. Starting with the flagship store in the 900 block of Canal Street, the chain operated seven stores at its peak. Maison Blanche (“MB” to locals) was one of the places to shop all year round, but most importantly, at Christmas time.

Arcadia’s Images of America books are 128 pages and usually include 200-220 photos and/or illustrations. Naturally there’s always a bunch of photos that don’t make it into the book, for one reason or another. I’ll be sharing some of these photos here at NOLAFemmes as the release date approaches.

So, to start this off, here’s a shot of Maison Blanche on Canal Street from 1948. It was shot by Franck Studios, who did a lot of the legal and architectural photography at the time.  The first five floors of the building, designed in 1908 by Sam Stone, were the store itself.  The upper floors in the two towers were the “Office building,” which counted a number of physicians and dentists.

The neutral ground on Canal still has its four-track streetcar configuration; the two outside tracks were torn up in 1957.  A Perley A. Thomas “green” streetcar approaches the intersection at Dauphine St., headed inbound on the Canal line.  Across Rue Dauphine from MB is the second location of the Katz & Besthoff Drugstore chain (K&B).  The first K&B opened two blocks down, in the 700 block.

The small building directly to the left of the MB building in this photo is the S. H. Kress building.  Kress’ was a “dime” store, offering basic dry goods at discount prices.  The store closed in the early 1990s.  The Kress building was acquired by the group looking to convert the MB building into a hotel in the late-1990s.  The building is now the parking garage for the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, located in the MB building.

Got a question about Maison Blanche? Do you have a MB memory? Share them with us here in comments.

Filed under: New Orleans Women

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