Last night we brought you photos from the Marigny Opera House — the venue where Solange Knowles and Alan Ferguson tied the knot over the weekend. Today, we bring you that space's history. Long before it saw celebrity weddings and performances of all kinds, the Marigny Opera House was the humble Holy Trinity Church.
Blessed on July 18, 1848 (so says the plaque outside its doors) the first church was sadly destroyed by a fire in 1851. The current building that stands at 725 St Ferdinand St was designed by architect Theodore E Giraud, who also designed the regal, Venetian Gothic-inspired Immaculate Conception Church at 132 Baronne St in the CBD. The Immaculate Conception Church was also rebuilt due to damages, though of a far different variety — the construction of the nearby Pere Marquette building somehow caused its floor to split in two.
Giraud, a proponent of Gothic revival architecture, designed the church with Baroque style in mind. The current building dates back to 1853 and was owned by Holy Trinity until 1999, where it was briefly owned by Higby Morgan until 2007 then repurchased by Holy Trinity. It was Hurricane Betsy that first damaged the Marigny church back in 1965, though the building was still functional and held church services until 1997. After the church closed its doors, it fell into further blight, which Hurricane Katrina and the storm only worsened, destroying the building's sacristy and damaging its roof.
It wasn't until 2011 when Dave Hulbert and partner Scott King purchased the church after eying a homemade for sale sign. As the Advocate reported just before the Marigny Opera House's opening, Hulbert's initial plans for the space were for work space and perhaps to ride his bike "around naked and sing real loud." The building and community had other plans as Hulbert and Scott worked to revitalize the space.
Now a historic landmark, the Marigny Opera House's first unofficial shows were thanks to the New Orleans Fringe Festival, which used the space two years before its first show in December of 2011. Fringe Festival returns once again to the space, with performances running all this week from Wednesday to Sunday.
This "church of the arts" has its own dance company and is also functioning as a Prospect.3 venue for the Shotgun Cinema film series. It hosts a myriad performances and, of course, the occasional wedding and private function.
· Marigny Opera House [Curbed NOLA]
· Exploring Prospect.3 In The Marigny and New Marigny [Curbed NOLA]
· Marigny Opera House website