PERSEVERANCE SOCIETY HALL (1644 N. Villere St., New Marigny, Circa 1900)
This former benevolent society hall, with its Mission-style parapet, represents an important part of the City’s cultural and jazz heritage. The Perseverance Society, an antebellum benevolent society founded by Creoles of color, hosted early 20th century dances, funerals and parades, and played a significant role in the development of jazz. Musicians Buddy Bolden, Joe Oliver, Sidney Bechet, Sam Morgan and others played in the still-intact and now-rare musician’s mezzanine or bandstand, required in a time before amplification. Most of the other African-American benevolent society buildings nearby have been altered beyond recognition, or demolished, the fate of many of the City’s jazz sites. The entire building, now the Holy Aid and Spiritual Comfort Church, was threatened with demolition in Spring 2007 when neighborhood residents complained to the City about the collapsing camelback addition, damaged significantly by Hurricane Katrina’s winds. After many attempts by concerned preservationists and the owner, the City finally granted a permit to remove the compromised addition. Deconstruction of the addition has been completed and the rear of the main structure secured. But funding is still needed to restore the church, which currently lacks electricity for its congregation’s weekly services. Missing weatherboards and windows are among the items that must be repaired.
Threat: Lack of public awareness and funding for restoration