Folks who do blues tourism know how rare rural buildings associated with the blues have become– they tend to have been pretty ephemeral buildings to start with, and no effort was made toward preservation for the better part of a century. There’s a rural jazz club in Mandeville that’s been preserved, and local government and an architecture program at Tulane are working to make it possible to hear jazz there again, described in a Times-Picayune story:
For more than a year, people have come to the Dew Drop Jazz and Social Hall in Mandeville to listen to jazz performances in the same rustic cabin where Louis Armstrong once serenaded audiences at Saturday night dances.
The 114-year-old venue, partially refurbished and reopened with help from volunteers and the Mandeville city government, has been limited to just a handful of concerts annually because of its age and lack of amenities. It can hold only about 100 people….
The Dew Drop was built on Lamarque Street in 1895 by an African-American benevolent association, which, like many similar groups across the South, pooled members’ resources to care for the sick, pay for funerals and help out during emergencies.
The hall was not only used to discuss serious matters. The association often held dances there, with music provided by now-legendary figures of early New Orleans jazz, including Armstrong, Buddy Petit, the Fritz Brothers and George Lewis.
By the 1940s, black residents were buying insurance from black-owned businesses, and there was no longer a need for the benevolent association. The Dew Drop sat unused for more than half a century.