black and white photograph depicting and old skyscraper and several downtown buildings

In the early 1900s, commerce in Shreveport was focused around downtown. The city center developed rapidly and the buildings that sprang up housed any number of important (and maybe not so) businesses.

The Ardis Building—then Ardis-Johnson Building, and today the Johnson Building—was Shreveport’s third major office building and one of the largest skyscrapers dotting the city skyline. Throughout its lifetime it was home to many different businesses including attorney, dentists, and real estate brokers. A beauty salon and cafe were long-term residents of the ground floor until 1998, when Kelly’s Po Boy became the sole tenant of the building.

The building, like most downtown, has a long and storied history. When the building was purchased by W. Harry Johnson in the late 1930s, it became the first office structure in Shreveport to be air conditioned. Johnson was an astute businessman, owner of the nation’s largest motor transport line. He also dabbled in real estate, raised cattle, manufactured brick and dehydrated potatoes for distribution.

black and white photograph depicting old downtown skyscraper with a prominent cafe

The popular restaurant downstairs would eventually make way for Kelly’s Po Boy.

The Future

In 1996, the Downtown Development Authority surveyed the Ardis Johnson building, deeming it a good candidate for redevelopment. In the style of Lee Hardware and the United Jewelers apartments, the DDA believed the building would make an attractive residential building for downtown dwellers at an affordable cost. Proposed floor plans suggested it could house 49 apartments in various sizes.

Join Us On March 24 for History on Tap

We’ve teamed up with a cool group of folks to pair historical landmarks with special brews. Come tour downtown through our beer/historic building boards and learn a little about the city you live in. History and beer. What more could you want? Did we mention it’s free?