Old Handleman Building, New Orleans Louisiana

Date added: January 22, 2023 Categories: Louisiana Office

In the various old business districts of New Orleans, the vast majority of commercial buildings are only two stories high and do not feature columns of any kind. Few received the kind of fully developed four-story "Palazzo" treatment seen at the Handleman Building.

It was designed by the firm of Weiss and Dreyfous (later Weiss, Dreyfous, and Seiferth), probably the leading architectural firm in Louisiana during the 1920s. It is an elegant and restrained example of the application of Renaissance Revival architecture to a commercial building. It is particularly noteworthy for its use of the colossal order, which is unusual in a commercial building, in the area.

Building Description

The Handleman Building is set on Dryades Street in the central business district of New Orleans. Four stories high, the building has a massive two-story hypostyle sales area with a surrounding mezzanine balcony, which is reached by an imperial staircase, The third and fourth floors consist of open storage space. A two-story side wing provides additional hypostyle sales space.

The building has heavy wooden post and beam construction with steel tie bars, bolts, and joints. The exterior walls are of heavy masonry.

The Dryades Street facade is articulated in a manner resembling a Renaissance palazzo but with large areas of glass. The first and second. stories form the base and the third and fourth stories form the piano nobile with engaged colossal composite order columns. There is also a pressed metal paneled frieze and modillion cornice. The first-floor shop front is sheltered by a suspended canopy which has an eyebrow arch over both ground-floor entrances. The canopy is supported by pairs of cables that are attached to decorative lions' heads set in the base of the piano nobile.

Old Handleman Building, New Orleans Louisiana Front view (1979)
Front view (1979)

Old Handleman Building, New Orleans Louisiana Side front view (1979)
Side front view (1979)

Old Handleman Building, New Orleans Louisiana Close up view of front (1979)
Close up view of front (1979)

Old Handleman Building, New Orleans Louisiana View of side entrance (1979)
View of side entrance (1979)