The historic French Market is one of the most popular attractions for visitors to New Orleans, offering a wide array of imported clothing, jewelry, and wares along with homegrown music, vegetables, and spices. As far back as the early 1700s, enslaved blacks, Free People of Color, Native Americans, and whites all exchanged wares at this location.
While the market has existed at the same site since 1791, it has evolved greatly over the years into the cultural, commercial, and entertainment treasure it is today. One of its most remarkable aspects has always been its architectural beauty, and the story of the man behind it.
The Bazaar Market, designed by Joseph Abeilard
In the book Creole, Mary Gehman explains, “[A] fairly impressive number of New Orleans free men of color did pursue careers that were almost unheard of for blacks in other parts of the country. . . . Joseph Abeilard was a quite respected [architect] in antebellum Louisiana. The Bazaar section of the French Market in New Orleans was his design.”
The Bazaar Market was built in 1870 by Wells and Company, which leased the site from the city for ten years. As designed by Abeilard and originally constructed, the Bazaar contained 164 stalls.
Unfortunately, the structure was destroyed by hurricane in 1915. It was rebuilt in 1930 during a Public Works Administration renovation to accommodate the retail sale of produce. It was later converted to retail shops and boutiques during a renovation in the 1970s.