Bank of Louisiana Building
The original Bank of Louisiana in New Orleans was chartered by Governor Claiborne in 1804. The bank was formed after the Louisiana Purchase for the purpose of providing currency that could replace the Spanish silver certificates used in the lower Mississippi Valley in the 18th century. In 1824, a second Bank of Louisiana was chartered, during which point the main building was moved to 334 Royal Street, the same beautiful building seen today. This building served as the headquarters of the bank, the point of the Louisiana Lottery, and even a temporary state capitol. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 for its contributions in the areas of commerce and architecture.
Backstory and Context
Designed by the firm of Bickle, Hamblet and Fox, the bank was constructed from 1826-27 with a Roman classical design. Its ornate rod iron fence came from Sterling and Company located in New York. Its Royal Street Greek revival portico was added in 1840 and was designed by Irish-born architect James Gallier. It served as the Bank of Louisiana until it was liquidated in 1867. Since that time it has served numerous functions, to include superior and juvenile courts, the Louisiana State Capitol from 1868-69, a conveyance office, an auction exchange, a beer hall, and an American Legion hall for almost 50 years.
It survived fires in 1840, 1861, and again in 1931. In 1971 its exterior was restored and its interior remodeled for use by the Greater New Orleans Tourist and Convention Commission. It now serves as the French Quarter's 8th District Police Station.
Among the original bank's board members were Julien Poydras, the first delegate to the U.S. Congress from the Orleans Territory, and the eccentric philanthropist John McDonogh, who is well known for endowing much of his fortunes to creating public schools in Baltimore and New Orleans. Like many famous men of their time, these men are famous both for their investments in the city and for their troubling history with slavery.
The bank, however, holds another interesting claim to fame. While there is some debate as to how the South came to be termed "Dixie," one of the theories attributes the title to the $10.00 bills printed by the Bank of Louisiana and another bank, the Citizens Bank of Louisiana. These bills, printed in both English and French, were called "dix" or "Dixies" by English-speaking citizens. Though limited evidence supports this theory, it only adds to the legacy of this building.
Orleans Parish Landmarks Commission. "Bank of Louisiana." Open Plaques. Accessed February 2, 2017. http://openplaques.org/plaques/39429
"Bank of Louisiana -- New Orleans, LA" Waymarking. March 31, 2007. Accessed February 2, 2017. http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WM1C3R_Bank_of_Louisiana_New_Orleans_LA
Maldonado, Charles. "Mayor's office: no plans to move NOPD 8th District at this time." Best of New Orleans. March 15, 2013. Accessed February 2, 2017. http://www.bestofneworleans.com/blogofneworleans/archives/2013/03/15/mayors-office-no-plans-to-move-...