Historic landmark Perseverance Hall, in New Orleans' 7th ward, collapsed this week after heavy rains. The building and those who gathered in it were fundamental to the history and development of jazz music. NOLA.com provides some history and context about the structure:
[Frederick] Starr, a former professor of history and architecture at Tulane University, said the structure was erected by a group of free Black people who called themselves La Société de la Perseverance, known in English as the Perseverance Benevolent Mutual Aid Association.
Such mutual aid associations provided health and burial insurance for members, and were common in the Crescent City. La Société de la Perseverance built the North Villere Street hall in 1880. It was used as a meeting place and concert venue.
In the early 20th century, Perseverance Hall became an incubator for a new American art form, a "home base for a Who's Who of early jazz musicians," Starr said, including Sidney Bechet, Buddy Bolden, Johnny Dodds and others.
Just last year, the Baton Rouge Advocate ran an opinion piece by Frederick Starr, in which he described the dire condition of the building and begged the city to do something to help preserve it:
When Ida struck, the hall's large interior space enabled the blast to explode the building from the inside out. What remains could collapse any day if immediate remedial steps are not taken.
What is needed? First, the side walls must immediately be returned to vertical and then stabilized. Wood from the building's collapsed rear end must be salvaged, for use in a comprehensive restoration. The city must fence off the property to protect it from looters. These steps cannot be delayed.
It's a real shame that the city didn't listen, that these repairs were never done, and that now the city (and world) has lost an important piece of jazz history.