Perseverance Society Hall

1644 Villere St.
New Orleans LA 70116
Location Status: Same structure, different use
Curated by
e/Prime Media & Randy Fertel

This building, once owned by the Perseverance Benevolent Mutual Aid Association (La Société de la Perseverance), was an important social dance hall of the type that fostered much of the early development of jazz. (It is sometimes called Perseverance Hall, though it is not to be confused with the Perseverance Masonic Lodge No. 4 in Armstrong Park.) Like many society halls in the Treme and Seventh Ward, this one hosted dances in the 1910s where many future jazz legends performed, including Freddie Keppard, Joe “King” Oliver, Sidney Bechet, Henry “Kid” Rena, “Big Eye” Louis Nelson, “Wooden” Joe Nicholas, Buddy Petit, Chris Kelly, Sam Morgan, and Isidore Barbarin. Barbarin lived behind the hall on Urquhart Street. His son, the drummer, composer, and bandleader Paul Barbarin, remembered hearing bands playing for Monday banquets there. Half a century after jazz pioneer Buddy Bolden was institutionalized, Barbarin recalled his mother telling him one Monday that Bolden was in the hall playing so loud he’d “blow his brains out.”

La Société de la Perseverance, formed by Creoles of color in 1853, built the hall in the 1880s. A renovation in the 1920s added the current Spanish Mission style façade. The interior of the hall is decorated with wainscoting from the 1880s and 1920s. A second story camelback added in the 1920s was removed after suffering damage from Hurricane Katrina. The Holy Aid and Comfort Spiritual Church of Eternal Life bought the building in 1949, and continues to use it for services.

Show More
show location on the map