“It’s amazing. Plenty of memories,” says Herbert Harris, “I was a youngster then, just a teenager. Man it’s really, I just can’t describe.”
77-year-old Harris and his buddies of more than 30 years can’t believe The Carver Theater is coming back.
It’s been 60 years since Harris sat inside and soaked in a movie. The Carver Theater opened in 1950 on Orleans Avenue in Treme as a movie theater for African Americans.
“This building was built during Jim Crow when blacks weren’t allowed to go in the theater on the ground floor. They had to sit in the balcony. So this was the only theater built at this time that did not have a balcony,” says Dr. Eugene Oppman, “This was an exclusive black theater.”
“But The Carver Theater was one that was built first class for them, and that’s how it was described as one of the best theaters. So this holds a special place for many residents of New Orleans. Even for myself this is the first place that I saw a movie,” says General Manager Vincent Sylvain.
In the 80’s the theater closed and reopened as a medical clinic. Today Dr. Eugene Oppman owns The Carver, and after years of raking up funds he now plans to breathe life back into the historic building that has sat lifeless since Katrina.
Oppman is injection $8-Million into a renovation plan. It’s a project that includes an addition and a parking lot. He says by the end of 2013 The Carver Theater should be back open. This time it will serve as an entertainment venue again, but featuring lots of live jazz and other performances.
Some say The Carver is the key to the rebirth of Orleans Avenue and Treme. It’s a historic structure that holds countless memories and after some TLC is poised to create more for years to come.