The tall, striking building in the 1000 block of Texas Avenue looks like a vacant structure, but look more closely and you will see life returning.

The Calanthean Temple was at its peak in the early- to- middle 1900s, a home to African American professional offices; dentists, doctors, attorneys. The 8 to 5 gave way to a robust nighttime musical venue on the rooftop which hosted both the famous and up-and-coming African American musicians- Louis Armstrong, Dizzie Gillespie, Count Basie, Jelly Roll Morton and others. 

The First of Its Kind

The Court of Calanthe, an African-American women’s organization, built the Calanthean Temple in 1923. It stood as the largest building in the United States brought into existence by African-American creativity and savvy.  

In addition to the storied musicians, dancers and Mardi Gras ball attendees also flocked to the Calanthean Temple’s rooftop for celebrations. The landmark remains in one of Shreveport’s designated historic areas. Mike Rosebery photographed the Calanthean Temple after years of decay. A more recent owner is working to  rehab the building and make it both useful and beautiful once again. Tons of trash has been removed from the interior of the building, broken windows have been removed, new windows will soon be installed, and the amazing rooftop deck has been re-roofed, making the building leak-free again for the first time in dozens of years. 

Calanthean Temple rooftop garden dance advertisement

The Calanthean Temple featured musicians and dances on its rooftop garden. (Credit: Chris Brown)

What’s next for the Calanthean Temple? More to come…