Maison Blanche was named for the large white building that it occupied on Canal Street. Constructed in 1897 on property owned by the Mercier family, who ran a clothing store a few blocks away, the original Maison Blanche building was one of the first purpose-built department stores in New Orleans, with five stories divided into departments, including leather goods, jewelry, stationery, ladies’ clothing, men’s furnishings, toys, upholstery, and bric-a-brac. The business was operated by S. J. Shwartz, with financial support from his father-in-law Isidore Newman. The original building was demolished in 1906 and replaced with a larger white edifice, with the first five stories being dedicated to shopping and the upper floors designated for medical offices. 

Eyeglasses, cleaning cloth, and case

between 1900 and 1950; glass, metal, cotton, plastic

Maison Blanche optical department, retailer (New Orleans)

The Historic New Orleans Collection, gift of Dr. William J. Rosenthal, 1985.76.3 a,b

Maison Blanche, 901–21 Canal Street

1924; gelatin silver print

by Charles L. Franck Photographers

The Charles L. Franck Studio Collection at The Historic New Orleans Collection, 1979.325.1700

Doorknob from Maison Blanche

ca. 1902; iron, brass

by Russwin (Connecticut)

The Historic New Orleans Collection, gift of Sally Young, 2015.0242.2