A group of African American businessmen erected the Pythian Temple at the corner of Gravier and Saratoga (now Loyola
Ave.) Streets in about 1908. This page from a 1908 number of Architectural Art and its Allies reproduces the plan for a second-floor
theatre in the building. In 1909, a neighborhood group known as the "Tramps" attended a Temple Theatre performance
of a skit featuring a Zulu tribe and its king. The "Tramps" were so taken with the portrayal of the Zulu king that
they retired to their clubhouse on Perdido St. and reorganized themselves as the Zulus. Thus was born the Zulu Social Aid
and Pleasure Club, the most famous African American carnival organization in the Crescent City.
Some years later
the owners of the Pythian Temple added a roof garden to their structure. The new facility became a popular venue for jazz
musicians. It is said that Sidney Bechet first played the saxophone with A.J. Piron's band at the Roof Garden. Papa Celestin's
Original Tuxedo Jazz Orchestra and Kid Rena's Jazz Band also played there with some regularity. The Pythian Temple went
out of black ownership during the 1940s, but the building still stands, though hidden behind a 1950s glass facade just across
Loyola Ave. from the Library. The Temple Theatre and the Roof Garden, however, long ago disappeared.
this and photo