The Cultural Center for the Arts, once the Gretna Post Office on Huey P. Long Avenue and 4th Street is a handsome example of Depression-era architecture and one of Gretna’s most impressive landmarks. It was constructed in 1936, after its relocation from an old building at 619 2nd Street.
The U.S. Post Office Department renovated and extended the building in 1963, making it more than twice its original size. It served the community until 2003, when the United States Postal Service closed the office and planned to sell the building. In anticipation of preserving and restoring the building as a historic landmark, the City Council approved the purchase by the City of Gretna on October 10, 2006 with financial assistance provided by Jefferson Parish.
Exterior restoration was completed in 2008 and all interior renovations that were needed to convert the building into a cultural center were finished in 2016. In its renovation, the building was configured as a black box theater, which is a simple performance space that varies in size with black walls and a flat floor. The simplicity of the space is used to create a flexible stage and audience interaction. The black box is a relatively recent innovation in theatre.
The cultural center, with a capacity of 60-75 seated or 125 for a reception includes a warming kitchen for catering ease, ample backstage dressing rooms and adequate cast areas. The lobby is beautifully appointed with painted canvases of Gretna landmarks, period wall coverings and window treatments.
The cultural center is available for rent for live performances, as well as for special event venues, like weddings, concerts, receptions and parties. Special community events are also popular there, like the upcoming “Shop the Huey – Easter” to be held on Saturday, April 3 from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Over 40 vendors located both indoors and outdoors will have their wonderful wares available.
Locals can shop and browse to their hearts content while sipping free champagne mimosas. Vendors will offer jewelry, wreaths, bags, holiday signs, fire pits, plants, treats, artwork, bath products, clothes, umbrellas, essential oils and toys.
As you Shop the Huey, stop at the St. Joseph Restoration booth to register for a free raffle! You don’t have to buy anything or be there to win! The basket of treats will be drawn at 2:30 p.m. at Shop the Huey.
The Bunny Rabbit, aka Father Gary from St. Joseph Church and Shrine just may decide to peek around the corner at Shop the Huey and surprise folks as he does love to pay tribute to all holidays in costume!
Of course, Restoration will be selling decorated “Mother Church Cookbooks,” perfect for gifts and the recently handcrafted St. Joseph Church “Belltower” ornaments by artist Katie Baldwin.
Other good news, is that things are starting back up in Gretna. The Gretna Kids Playhouse Summer Workshop 2021 will be open again under the leadership of Workshop Director Cammie West. The not-so-good news for children interested in theater is that the workshop sold out immediately and there are no more spots available for this year. It’s something to keep in mind to register early for next year.
The summer playhouse will culminate in a production of “Cinderella” on July 31, where all of the workshop children will perform.
The Gretna Kids Playhouse is made possible by the city and Post Backstage, Inc., the non-profit that fundraises for the cultural center.
With changes as pandemic restrictions lessen, we can only hope that the great Gretna events that we have been so used to enjoying are on the way back for a more normal summer and fall.
You can rent this wonderful space, the Cultural Center for the Arts for your own special event. Simply contact the City of Gretna Event Coordinator Summer Cook at 504.363.1552 or email: email@example.com.