Leeds Iron Foundry

The Leeds Iron Foundry was owned and operated by Charles Leeds. It was located at Delord and Constance Streets during the Antebellum period of the nineteenth century. The foundry was opened in 1824. Leeds became a partner in 1844 upon his father’s death. [1] Before the Civil War, this foundry was the most prolific producer of “steel cotton bale presses” in the world and was one of the most important foundries in the South. It maintained several hundred employees for the production of various iron plantation equipment. The Leeds Company was successful enough that it actually issued its own banknotes, a common practice at the time.

The foundry manufactured supplies for the Confederate army and navy, including two naval vessels and even an early submarine, the Pioneer I. In particular, the Leeds Foundry was reported to have built “‘3.3-inch Confederate bronze field rifles’ and ’6-pounder Confederate bronze field guns.’” [2]

During the period of Reconstruction, Leeds allowed his foundry to function as a base of operations for a subgroup of the White League, a militant white supremacy organization. It produced arms for the White League, including one cannon. An arms shipment sent from the Leeds Foundry prompted the New Orleans Police to clash with the White League members stationed in the city and ended with their violent takeover of the city for roughly three days. Leeds’ collusion with this group helped fuel his election to mayor in 1874. [3]

Today, the area which once housed the iron foundry is home to the Preservation Resource Center. This particular building in the foundry complex was built to serve as storage space and showrooms, so it was ideally suited for the new center. [4] This organization was founded in order to help preserve the architecture in the city of New Orleans. It is open to the public. [5] The site of the Leeds Iron Foundry can be found on the US Register of Historic Places.



923 Tchoupitoulas Street, New Orleans LA