Preservation Magazine, Winter 2018

Gallier Hall Makes a Comeback in the Crescent City

Gallier Hall in New Orleans, Louisiana.

photo by: Elsa Hahne

Gallier Hall once served as New Orleans' seat of city government.

New Orleans’ Gallier Hall has 16 ballrooms, and as part of a two-year restoration—on track to be completed in time for the city’s tricentennial celebration this year—every one of them will look as good as new.

“New,” in this case, means 1853. That’s the year that the building, then known as Municipal Hall, was completed, after the city’s emerging American government commissioned noted Irish architect James Gallier to design it in 1845. The hall served as the seat of city government until 1957, when municipal offices outgrew the building. It was rechristened Gallier Hall and repurposed as a civic center, theater, and mayoral Mardi Gras viewing spot.

Work on the interior ballrooms started in the summer of 2016. Last March, the hall’s Greek Revival columns and marble facade were cleaned and restored. On the first floor, craftsmen are carefully restoring millwork, marble and pinewood flooring, and the colorful original paint scheme, as well as historic windows.

“I think New Orleans is excited about this project, because so many people have connections to this building,” says Cheryl Landrieu, chair of the Gallier Hall Preservation Committee and wife of Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “People who worked here, people who got married here, people who really wanted to see it restored well.”

Katherine Flynn is a former assistant editor at Preservation magazine. She enjoys coffee, record stores, and uncovering the stories behind historic places.

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