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New Orleans, Louisiana

General Laundry Building

It's clear this abandoned Art Deco gem was no ordinary cleaners. 

Splashes of color stand out among the rest of this abandoned building’s decaying, vandalized exterior. The bright pigment and intricate designs peeking out from behind tangles of vines and weeds hint that this Art Deco gem was no ordinary laundry facility.

Built in the 1930s, the General Laundry Building is one of the few examples of Art Deco in the South. As its artful exterior suggests, the building was for more than washing clothes. During its heyday, the laundromat hosted monthly fashion shows. Champagne was served while models displayed homespun and exotic cloths in the current fashions.

After a fire had destroyed his previous building, Robert Chapoit, the president of General Laundry, Cleaners, and Dyers, commissioned this beautiful Art Deco and Aztec-themed building by the architectural firm of Jones, Roessel, Olschner, and Wiener. Sadly, the building’s stint as a laundry facility was short-lived. With the invention of the in-home modern washing machine, Chapoit closed the facilities in 1945 and sold the building.

Since then, the building has gone through the hands of several companies that have done nothing to preserve it or restore it to its former grandeur. It has been slated  for demolition several times, though thankfully the wrecking balls have yet to arrive. The façade made it onto the National Register of Historic Places, but so far nothing has been done to save or resurrect this unique structure.

Know Before You Go

Easy access via the Lafitte Greenway by bicycle or at Broad Street.