What is the history of The Beverly casino/country club/dinner theater?_lowres

This old advertisement shows the Beverly Dinner Playhouse offering On Golden Pond, starring Pat O'Brien.

Hey Blake,

What is the history of The Beverly casino/country club/dinner theater?

Andrew Hodges


Dear Andrew,

  The phrasing of your question, referring to the Beverly in so many incarnations, references the colorful history of this lost landmark. The last chapter ended when the building, then a dinner theater, burned to the ground in July 1983.

  The story begins a century earlier, in the 1850s, with the stately Whitehall Plantation, a River Road mansion built for Francois Pascalis de LaBarre IV. The name gives a hint as to where the Beverly was located — near Labarre Road and Jefferson Highway. According to Nancy Gould Gex in her book The Beverly, the property changed hands several times until a later owner built a larger version of the plantation house nearby and opened it as a 1920s roadhouse called Suburban Gardens.

  The property's most notable owners took over in 1945 and included organized crime figures "Dandy Phil" Kastel, Frank Costello, Meyer Lansky and Carlos Marcello. Though gambling was not officially sanctioned in Louisiana, it was definitely rampant in parts of Jefferson Parish. The new place, called The Beverly Country Club, was billed as "America's Smartest Dinner and Supper Club." Since these were the pre-Las Vegas days, the club welcomed big-name entertainers like Sophie Tucker, Carmen Miranda, Rudy Vallee and Joe E. Lewis.

  In 1951, following U.S. Senate hearings into illegal gambling led by Sen. Estes Kefauver, D-Tenn., the club was forced to shut its doors. It reopened in 1959, but closed again in 1962, after Kastel took his own life.

  In 1972, the club raised the curtain on its history as a dinner theater. A group, led by director Storer Boone and including architect August Perez III and former state Senate President Michael O'Keefe, bought the property and christened it the Beverly Dinner Playhouse. Stage productions featured local and national stars, including Lana Turner, Van Johnson, Bob Crane and New Orleans native Dorothy Lamour. After a fire in 1983, there were plans to rebuild or perhaps relocate under the same name, but the fire turned out to be the Beverly's final act.

  The spot where the theater stood is now a parking lot for Ochsner Hospital.