1733 Constantinople: Our DEVENEY Office

As the brand of some of marketing’s best professional storytellers over the past 25 years, it’s fitting that DEVENEY’s new address has a storied past. Its history as a theatre location goes back at least to 1900, according to a Historic District Landmarks Commission report.

Nola.com called the property “an enduring tribute to New Orleans’ movie history,” and the Historic District Landmark Commission praised the grand building as “surprisingly elaborate” and said it “is easily the most original of the New Orleans neighborhood theaters.”

It started its century-and-a-quarter journey as a neighborhood movie theater, operated briefly as a theater for black patrons called the Booker T. In 1992, the TV movie “Kingfish,” starring John Goodman as Huey P. Long, rented it.

In its series of reinventions, it has been a live theater, a reception hall, a church, a multi-use arts center, and a warehouse for one of our tastiest neighbors, Martin’s Wine Cellar—which may be why among the few giant historical pictures that adorn the eateries’ wall, the one of 1733 Constantinople is the only one in color. Some recognize it as where they attended a debutante event; others remember it from scenes from the 2004 movie Ray. And everyone recognized that the grand building at 1733 Constantinople Street was overdue for redevelopment.

This is a black and white photo of the building from a newspaper article from 1994.

We embraced its history in the most extensive overhaul of the property in over a century. The State Historic Preservation Office and The Historic District Landmarks Commission guided the renovation to ensure historic appropriateness. We modified the already stunning design and the technology to enhance our inspiring workspaces with post-COVID sensibilities, including keyless and touchless entry, a single and separate path entrance, and exit. This update also brought large amounts of accessible outdoor space, increased natural light, hard surfaces in the kitchen area for ease of cleaning, and increased distance between workstations and offices.

In addition to repairing extensive damage from termites, water intrusion, time, and neglect, we reconfigured the inside for modern commercial spaces. Sure to win the approval of preservationists, clients, and movie buffs, the façade has been lovingly restored—including every door and window opening, the balconies on each side of the building, and the box office.

The revitalized building offers four unique spaces for commercial leases on the ground floor and four distinct residential units with balconies on the second floor. DEVENEY’s office includes both floors of the theatre fronting Constantinople Street.

Designed by noted local architect Moise Goldstein more than a century ago, the historic Fine Arts Theater was built in the Renaissance Revival style. Note the Italian loggia entrance with columns and facades finished in stucco and the steps leading from the sidewalk to the recessed entryway and the box office. Over it still stretches a central arch supported by four Tuscan columns crowned with a frieze of gargoyle-like tragedy masks. The monolithic projection booth retains its commanding view—now of the atrium that opens the marketing firm’s first floor to the vaulted ceilings above the second floor. As was tradition in the age of flammable nitrate film, they built the projection booth like a bunker, with inch-thick concrete walls intended to contain any fires and save the audience (grimly, not so helpful for the projectionist).

Having gone a century as an unintentional time capsule, the booth was a tiny museum, with its antique projectors in place and reels for film littering the floor; elsewhere in the grand old building, we found and will preserve what may be one of the first spotlights in New Orleans.

And your creative friends at DEVENEY honored the history of our new location by using theatre nomenclature for the new office, naming the guest lounge at the entrance by the ticket booth the “Green Room,” team kitchen, and break room “Concessions,” the main conference room “Marquee,” the open workspace “orchestra” with hot desk options, second floor in front of the projection booth is the “Loge,” and “Stage Left,” “Wing I” and “Wing II” offer hot office options on the second floor. The four residential apartments behind the office are the “Stage Door, Residences at the Fine Arts Theatre.”

Part of the marketing agency’s culture and history is restoring deteriorated historic property (starting in the Garden District 25 years ago, then the Faubourg Marigny, then Magazine Street) and contributing to the economic strength of its neighborhood. DEVENEY is proud to contribute to the incredible renaissance of the Baronne Commercial District in the Milan neighborhood of New Orleans.

DEVENEY anchors the development two blocks off St. Charles Avenue and three blocks downtown from Napoleon Avenue. The other commercial tenants are also fantastic: Zee’s Pizzeria (homemade pies made fresh daily with a thin, crispy charred crust that words do not do justice) and Lucy Boone Ice Cream (local small-batch ice cream created from scratch using local ingredients). And Sol Cura (a luxurious one-stop shop, salon, and spa) rounds out our anchor, the Baronne Street economic renaissance, at the corner of Constantinople and Baronne. Are you ready to visit?

DEVENEY selected the architecture group CICADA to help bring this historic center back to life. In a beautiful stroke of kismet, DEVENEY partnered with Urban Properties (the real estate leader that purchased DEVENEY’s Magazine Street restoration for its corporate headquarters) as its leasing agent.

“Being able to breathe new life into this building and bring it back into commerce in a thoughtful way has been one of the most enjoyable challenges we’ve worked on to date,” said CICADA Partner James Catalano. “We wanted to honor this historic structure by keeping its original theater spirit and adding new design elements and spaces that work for the modern user. Our team is proud to be a part of the larger revitalization of this Baronne Street corridor by reviving this historic neighborhood gem.”