Mayfair Department Store

In the early to mid 20th century, Canal Street was home to the New Orleans' largest department stores. Prior to the creation of department stores, shops typically specialized in one commodity. But, with the introduction of department stores such as D. H. Holmes, Maison Blanche, Mayfair, and Godcheaux’s, shoppers could often find everything they wanted under one roof.

Shopping on Canal Street was the place to see and be seen in New Orleans. [1] Judy Rabouin Tarantino, who grew up in Gentilly and shopped on Canal Street every Saturday afternoon, recalled: “My mother always made sure my sister and I were dressed with hats and gloves and stockings when we went downtown to have lunch with my grandmother at D.H. Holmes’ lunch counter." [2] Dr. Ernest Tarantino, a retired New Orleans dentist born and raised in Lakeview, recalled shopping on Canal Street as a child with his mother and aunt. “We would have lunch at Kraus’ because my uncle worked there as an accountant. Then we shopped on Canal Street while waiting for him to leave work.” [3]

Erected in 1915 after a fire destroyed the previous structure, the four-story building at 1015 Canal Street played host to numerous shops. Some of the shops that occupied that first floor include Noah’s Ark, Burt’s Shoe Store, Mayfair Department Store, Foot & Fashion, and, most recently, Rainbow clothing and accessories. Residences, offices, and salons often occupied the buildings' upper levels.

Mayfair Department Store, which occupied 1015 Canal Street from 1951 to 1981, was the building’s longest-standing tenant. In an interview featured in Peggy Scott Laborde and John Magill’s Canal Street, Yvonne LaFleur, a milliner and dress shop owner who worked in numerous Canal Street department stores, described Mayfair as a go-to shopping destination "if you couldn't afford a fancy dress.” According to LaFleur, Mayfair, like some other Canal Street shops, “would allow you to put things on layaway, in which you'd pay a certain amount weekly or monthly or when you budget allowed.” [4]

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1015 Canal Street, New Orleans, LA