New Orleans jazz landmark razed in rebuilding push

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He spoke from experience: Stewart is a general contractor who specializes in restoring old buildings, including a home Jelly Roll Morton lived in before he was kicked out by his mother.

When Bechet lived in the home, between about 1907 and 1914, he played music for the first time with his brother in the backyard. Bechet, loved by French existentialists like Jean Paul Sartre and poet Philip Larkin, died in 1959 in France.

There are still many other jazz landmarks in New Orleans left standing _ and none more important than four empty and decaying brick buildings near City Hall. They include the Iroquois Theater, where Armstrong won a talent contest as a boy by covering his face in white flour and doing a “white face” routine.

Construction of an entertainment district and museum around these buildings was proposed, but the plan has languished.

“The bottom line _ it’s still controversial, nothing’s done,” said White, the historian at Xavier. “And the next thing you know it will end up crumbling and being a parking lot.”

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