Friday, Jul 15, 2011
New Orleans Jazz NHP (JAZZ) and the Louisiana State Museum (LSM) will soon complete their Centennial Challenge Cost-Share Program partnership renovation project at the Old U.S. Mint located in the French Quarter “Vieux Carre” New Orleans. The project was authorized and funded for the purposes of collaborating on the development of a world class jazz park to include a museum with performance and educational and administrative space in the LSM’s Old U.S. Mint building.
The Old U.S. Mint building is as rich in historical and cultural stories and significance as the historic French Quarter where it is located. Purportedly, the cornerstone of the mint building was laid on the foundation of Fort St. Charles, one of five fortifications surrounding the city. Spanish Governor Baron Hector de Carondelet noted that Fort St. Charles, constructed in the form of a pentagon, was built larger than the other four to accommodate troops in the event of an insurrection. In 1821 the fort was demolished, and the land was given to the City of New Orleans the following year. The area was made into a park, aptly named Jackson Square for the hero of the Battle of New Orleans. The park remained until 1835, when the city returned it to the federal government for construction of the New Orleans Branch Mint.
The only building in America to have served both as a U.S. and Confederate Mint was built in 1835 during the presidency of Andrew Jackson, who had advocated for its establishment in order to help finance development of the nation's western frontier. Minting operations ceased in 1909 and, for the next 57 years, the Mint served a variety of official purposes. In 1966 the landmark was transferred to the State of Louisiana and in 1981 opened to the public as a Louisiana State Museum site. It now houses, preserves, protects, and offers public access to the major LSM historical archives and collections dating back to Louisiana's Colonial Period, and also includes the former New Orleans Jazz Club collection (founded in 1948), containing original instruments (Louis Armstrong's coronet), sheet music, recorded music from the earliest recordings made to present day, memorabilia, photographs, and much more. This is one of, if not the premier, jazz music archives and collections of the world. It will soon be on exhibit and display to the public.
The 50/50 combined federal and state investment for the project is $4 Million. The LSM will commit an additional $4 Million for the design and development of a new permanent Jazz Museum within the Old U.S. Mint upon completion of the Centennial Partnership Project. The partnership project consists of the design and renovation of the third floor of the Old U.S. Mint to create a program, performance, and special events space for the shared programming uses of the partnership. The program and performance space has been designed for optimal performance acoustics with state of the art acoustic treatments for musical performances, cultural programs, special events, and educational programs. The performance venue also will have state of the art performance, audio, and visual equipment that includes digital audio and video recording studio, voice over recording sound isolation booth, broadcast capabilities for live web streaming and CCTV tele-learning connectivity for distance learning programs, a 102” wall mounted plasma monitor, and conference hosting technologies. This is an exceptional resource for the NPS to have available for use and programming. The project additionally includes a first floor visitor contact area with a Ranger staffed desk, an Eastern National outlet, and JAZZ Ranger office space.
JAZZ will offer its visitor programs Ranger interpretive “informances”, the ongoing free jazz performance program calendar, jazz documentary and historical archive films, special events, conferences, community events, civic engagement, etc. in the new facility. JAZZ is developing a partnership with the Univ of WI Milwaukee to establish a distance learning network for the park's Jazz For All Ages program. The LSM will also program its special events, educational programs, fundraisers, and Friends of the LSM uses. The core of the partnership is shared use and collaboration. The project is anticipated for substantial completion by early September. Stay tuned … coming to a live web streaming broadcast near you soon.