Francs Amis Hall was a social dance hall, primarily for wealthy and light-complexioned Creoles of color, where many great jazz bands played. Guitarist Johnny St. Cyr called it “a place of dignity” for downtown Creole society. It usually featured dance bands such as the John Robichaux Orchestra, the Superior Orchestra, and the Olympia Orchestra, but “hotter” uptown bands that included Pops Foster and Lee Collins reportedly played here as well. The club was popular with musicians, who earned $2.00 per engagement and ate and drank for free, according to Ricard Alexis, who played with Henry “Kid” Rena. “Wooden” Joe Nicholas, Hypolite Charles, and singer Lizzie Miles also performed here.
La Société des Francs Amis (roughly, The Society of True Friends) bought this lot in 1861, and built the hall later in the 1800s (the gothic arched windows were probably early 20th century additions). Famed civil rights activist Homer Plessy, whose 1892 challenge to segregation laws in New Orleans resulted in the Supreme Court’s infamous “separate but equal” ruling of Plessy v Ferguson, was an officer of the society. Today, the Genesis Missionary Baptist Church worships in the building, which it has owned since 1963.