The Historic New Orleans Collection, Gift of Waldemar S. Nelson, acc. no. 2003.0182.487
Full of culture and tradition, the history of 731 St. Charles Avenue is as unique as the city itself. The original building on the site was the Exposition Hall, built in 1865 and used for the 1872 Grand Industrial Exposition.
In 1873, the site’s rich Carnival history began as its grand hall hosted the King of Carnival’s first Reception Ball. In 1878, the Washington Artillery bought the building for its new arsenal and renamed it the “Washington Artillery Hall.” This armory housed everything from cannons, rifles, sabers, uniforms and ammunition while boasting its own shooting range. From 1879-1906, the Washington Artillery Hall served as the Carnival Palace of Rex and his royal consort, and here, Mardi Gras royalty would gather here to eat, drink and dance the night away.