Marigny Opera House, 725 St. Ferdinand street, NEW ORLEANS
The Marigny Opera House occupies the building constructed in 1853 by the Holy Trinity Parish in what is now known as the Faubourg Marigny. The use of the building as a church was suspended by the Archdiocese in 1992 and the property remained abandoned and unused until the current owners took responsibility 2011. During the long period of disuse, the church was allowed to deteriorate. Hurricane Katrina accelerated that decline with significant damage to the towers and roof which allowed water to enter the building. The winds of the storm caused the complete loss of the sacristy; plaster fell from the barrel vault of the nave, and ongoing wood damage from termite infestation accelerated.
The goal of the new Owners was to use the building as a venue for the local performing arts community. From this vision the Marigny Opera House, Church of the Arts was born. The first action taken was to stabilize the shell of the building and to address significant structural and use related deficiencies. Rather than approaching the building as a renovation, the Owners embraced the “patina of age” and worked with the building to first stabilize the structure and later to preserve its historic fabric. Minimal alterations were undertaken to make the building Code-compliant and handicap-accessible. Plaster was restored, termites were evicted, the wood and masonry structure was repaired and electrical, water, and sewerage services were established. The worship space remains unchanged except for the addition of curtains to improve acoustics in the nave. A second access point was created in the ca. 1910 transept to become the principle, handicap-accessible entrance.
The building is currently home to a resident dance troupe, a center for acoustic music and drama presentations, and other types of community engagement. The building has been preserved with minimal change to its spatial configuration or original fabric. The church retains its place at the heart of the local arts community with a use that allows its true preservation.