Building Description Canal Street Transit Station, New Orleans Louisiana

Canal Station is a four-square (block) site in the city of New Orleans that historically served as a transportation support and service center. Since 1861, development on the site was characterized by a utilitarian complex of industrial structures that were erected, modified, removed, or replaced in response to the practical operating requirements of an urban transportation system. Building 1 and Building 2 were constructed during the second half of the nineteenth century as freestanding carbarns to house storage and support services for the operation of the Canal Street streetcar line. The buildings were the oldest structures to survive in the complex and were modified over the years to accommodate the various technologies, including animal-drawn service, electric streetcars, and motorized buses, employed in the city's mass transit system.

Buildings 1 and 2 were incorporated in a three-building garage complex encompassing Building 1, an infill structure, and Building 2. The complex occupied a rectangular 294'-5" by 115'-6" footprint located on a paved urban site. The complex shared portions of a common wall with a contemporary office building located northwest of Building 2. The carbarns retained their structural integrity as independent buildings.

The infill structure, erected in 1968 according to plans developed by the Engineering Department of the New Orleans Public Service, Inc., was a single-story, wood frame building that includes dressing rooms, offices, a storage room, and a rear service yard.

The exterior of the garage complex was modified in a series of projects undertaken by the New Orleans Public Service, Inc. between 1964 and 1968. The resulting design suggests a contemporary industrial building. Modifications included the installation of exterior cladding, use of a consistent roof treatment, and the addition of a decorative concrete-block screen on the front face of the complex. Alterations also were made to the side facades of the carbarns. Multi-light metal sash windows were removed and the bays were infilled with translucent fiberglass panels. Fixed metal vent panels were installed below alternating bay openings. Exterior walls were clad in corrugated galbestos and asbestos panels; roof planes also were sheathed in corrugated galbestos panels. Wall sheathing was applied directly to the building frame. Roof planes were punctuated by regularly placed, metal roof ventilators and fiberglass skylight units. Large-scale, metal-frame rolling doors were installed to provide vehicular access from Canal Street. Industrial overhead doors flanked by wooden pedestrian doors were installed to provide access through the rear facade of the complex. Modifications to the exposed frame interiors of the carbarns included the addition of nailers, studs, and cripples to the exposed timber frame wall systems; improvement of mechanic's pits, and the installation of rows of suspended fluorescent-tube lights.

Building 1 was a large, one-story industrial structure oriented on a northeast-southwest longitudinal axis fronting Canal Street. The structure occupied a rectangular ground plan measuring 294'-5" by 58'-4" and rises to a complex roof incorporating arch and gable forms. The structure was supported by a heavy timber frame structural system terminating in a complex truss system composed of timber and iron members. The interior of the building originally was an unobstructed clear-span; supply rooms were segmented from the rear northwest corner ca. 1960. The clear span design reflected the spatial requirements of the building's continuous industrial use. The structure contained evidence of two phases of major construction (1861, 1887) and one period of major alteration (ca. 1960).

The southwestern end of the building included portions of the structural frame of the original 1861 station carbarn. Construction of the 1861 carbarn is credited to John Pouge, a local contractor. The 1861 remnant measures approximately 60'-0" by 60' and included heavy-timber supports and an all-iron tied arch truss system. This structural system was exposed on the building's interior, as is that of the later addition to the building. Original building specifications suggest that the upper reaches of the exterior walls were clad in rough weatherboards while the roof was sheathed with corrugated iron. Lower portions of the exterior wall originally were open.

The 1861 building was incorporated into a larger carbarn following an extensive fire that consumed much of the Canal Station complex in 1887. The expanded structure was erected in 1887 according to designs developed by civil engineer T. Sully.

Building 2 was a one-story, large-scale industrial building constructed in 1887 according to plans by civil engineer Thomas Sully. The building is identical in structural design to the 1887 addition to Building 1.