Bohemia tricentennial
The Arts and Crafts Club offered lessons to those in the Quarter and a growing number of Uptown residents.
Photo courtesy of THE LOUISIANA RESEARCH COLLECTION

In the years after World War I, the cheap rents of the then decaying French Quarter began attracting artists, turning the French Quarter into a “bohemia” for writers, artists and actors.

William Faulkner would become one of the most famous of this group, which also produced New Orleans’ literary magazine “The Double Dealer” from 1921 to 1926. The magazine featured works by Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, Robert Penn Warren and Sherwood Anderson.

Anderson, then already a famous author, moved to the French Quarter in 1922 and became the center of the literary scene.

The group of artists helped to incubate Le Petit Théâtre du Vieux Carré, which moved from Uptown to the French Quarter, where it remains today.

The artists also created an Arts and Crafts Club, which offered lessons by William Spratling, Enrique Alferez and faculty from the Newcomb School of Art.w

In 1922, the appearance of a New York Times article, “Greenwich Village on Royal Street,” may have marked the beginning of the end for the true bohemian days in the Vieux Carre’.

“Charm it surely has!” wrote author Silas Bent. “Not elsewhere on this continent I verily believe, may be found such a background for the arts, nor nourishment for them so rich and plentiful.”

The migration to the French Quarter had begun, but in the next few years, so many flocked to the Quarter that rents rose above what the artists could afford, and by the 1930s many had moved away.

In 1974 Ella Brennan and her siblings took over Commander’s and started developing it into the standard bearer it is today.