Back to The Harlem of New Orleans: South Rampart Street Tour

Eagle Saloon

401 South Rampart Street
New Orleans LA 70112
Location Status: Location threatened, damaged or not in use
Curated by
e/Prime Media & Randy Fertel

This Neoclassical Revival building, constructed in 1850, was home to the Masonic and Odd Fellows Hall Association from 1897 into the mid-20th century. The organization, formed of two African American fraternal organizations, leased the third floor of the building and occupied a second three-story building behind this one that has since come down. The association used the hall for meetings, dances and also as an eating area, a poolroom, and living quarters for the building manager. The street in front of the building was also used by the Odd Fellows and Masons as a parade assembly point.

The first floor of this building housed Jake Itzovich’s Eagle Loan Office, where musicians were known to pawn their instruments between gigs. Frank Douroux converted that space into the Eagle Saloon, which became a popular gathering place for musicians. Cornetist Charles “Buddy” Bolden, whom contemporaries considered a key musician in the development of jazz, played here with his band in the ballroom. In 1907 Bolden suffered a mental breakdown, and Frankie Duson took over that group, renaming it the Eagle Band after their hangout here. Bandleader John Robichaux and his society dance band performed here, too, as did trumpeter Bunk Johnson.

The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Considering it alongside the Iroquois Theater, the Karnofsky building, and the Little Gem Saloon, John Hasse, curator of American Music at the Smithsonian Institution, said “There is probably no other block in America with buildings bearing so much significance to the history of our country’s great art form, jazz.”

Read more about Black Storyville and the music scene on South Rampart Street.

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2011 clip from author John McCusker: "Louis Armstrong's New Orleans," a five-minute look at Satchmo's formative years and the state of landmarks associated with him.