Hurricane Ida left plenty of damage in its wake, but one of the most heartbreaking losses came in New Orleans where the place Louis Armstrong fell in love with music was leveled during the storms.
The Karnofsky Tailor Shop, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was a second home for a very young Armstrong, a place he would go as a child to hang out and work in the 1910s.
The family that owned the shop employed Armstrong as a young boy, and he often stayed for dinner with the family in their home on the second floor. They also gave him the money to purchase his first horn, a used cornet that started him on the road to jazz greatness.
“Louis said it was the Karnofskys that instilled the love of singing in his heart,” John McCusker, an author who led the fight to have the building preserved and restored, told WWl-TV. “The family would feed him, and they would eat dinner together and they would sing to get the children to sleep.”
Morris Karnofsky, the owner’s son and a childhood friend of Armstrong’s, later opened the city’s first jazz record shop on the same block. A series of other stores, clubs, and sites that played a role in the development of New Orleans jazz were also located on that same street.
After Ida passed through, all that’s left of the Karnofsky building is a pile of bricks.
“Hurricane Ida, which matched some of the highest wind speeds ever recorded in Louisiana, unfortunately took place before Karnofsky Tailor Shop could be revitalized,” Preservation Resource Center executive director Danielle Del Sol told NOLA.com. “Now our work will be to ensure that future development at this site fully reflects the historical and architectural significance of the building that was lost.”
Crews have already fenced off the area and are gathering the bricks in an effort to restore and save the structure.
“We take it very personally when one of our projects cannot be brought back to life,” said Drew Sparacia, CEO of the GBX, the company handling redevelopment on the block. “We will not be deterred, and we remain fully committed to redeveloping the remaining historic landmarks as we push forward with our long-standing vision to return the 400 block of South Rampart Street to its roots.”