Orleans between Royal and Bourbon Streets
"The site of the existing building was occupied by an edifice erected for Dramatic Performances, A.D. 1813, somewhat on the plan of the present one. This, which was built by a Joint Stock Company, was burnt to the ground A.D. 1816. Mr. John Davis afterwards became the sole proprietor, and began the erection of the present Theatre. Thibault being the architect for the building generally, and Leriche for the stage and scenic arrangements.
The building was opened by the first dramatic corps from France ever in Louisiana, in November 1819. The total cost of the edifice being about $180,000. It is in the lower story of the Roman Doric order; certainly not a pure specimen; and in the upper, of what may be called the Corinthian Composite. The interior and scenic arrangements of the house are excellent, for seeing and hearing--being a pit or parquette, quite elevated and commodious, with grated boxes at the side for persons in mourning. Two tiers of boxes, and one of galleries above, the whole being of such a shape as to afford satisifaction to the spectators.
In front and so far below the first tier of boxes, that the heads of those sitting are not above the front rail of the boxes, is a gallery wide enough for one row, which affords the most desirable seats in the house, and is generally occupied by amateurs--as the seats are distinct, and being numbered can be taken for the night.
Nothing can exceed the decorum and quiet of the audience, except the brilliancy of the dress circle, which on certain occasions is completely filled with the beautiful ladies of our city, in full evening costume. The performances are in the French language, and the stock company always at least respectable. The orchestra is excellent, and melodramas and operas are perfectly got up at this house. The strict adherence to nature and history, in costume and manners, will always please the man of taste, who visits the Orleans Theatre. The plan for another house, on the same site, has been designed and approved, and would probably ere this have been completed, were it not for the derangement of all business.
Connected with this edifice, and forming part of the same pile of building are large ball and supper rooms, in which hitherto most of the Terpsichorean gaieties of our city have had their scene--as society, military, and other balls have generally been given there. A communication exists between this suite of rooms and the Theatre: the pit having been repeatedly floored over, and the house occupied as a ball room, thus furnishing, when brilliantly lighted, in connexion with the suite adjoining, a coup d'oeil not to be surpassed for effect in America. The ball rooms, &tc. were build A.D. 1817, at a cost of about $100,000, and offer on Orleans street a striking facade. The lower story being Roman Doric in prolongation of that of the Theatre, and the upper story Ionic--although now, by the erection of the City Exchange ball rooms, about to be shorn of their glories, still Davis's Rooms will live in the memory of thousands who have first seen the humors of the place within these walls, and have been there often interrupted in their pleasures, by Sol's intrusive glare."
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