Old Egyptian Courthouse – New Orleans, Louisiana - Atlas Obscura
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New Orleans, Louisiana

Old Egyptian Courthouse

This strange example of the Egyptian Revival architecture trend now holds Mardi Gras floats.  

Located in the Irish Channel neighborhood between a welding facility and traditional shotgun homes is a strange Egyptian edifice. Its architectural details and motifs give a not-so-subtle nod to the great monuments of an ancient city thousands of miles away.

Built in 1834, this is the site of the original courthouse and prison for the short-lived town of Lafayette. The winged suns adorning its exterior represent protection, which is appropriate for a courthouse. It’s an exquisite example of the Egyptian Revival trend that gained traction in the 19th century.

The former courthouse is one of the oldest buildings in the Irish Channel of New Orleans. Its current shape comes from a 1843 redesign by famed architect James Gallier, though it was sold by 1852 for demolition. Thankfully it survived, and in its nearly 200 years of existence, the building has held as a courthouse, prison, public market, and government offices.

Today, it holds the floats for the Mardi Gras Krewe of Babylon. Every year, the Knights of Babylon present the first evening parade on the Thursday prior to Fat Tuesday, followed by a lavish ball.

Know Before You Go

The building is currently for sale! The building was formerly operated as the Knights of Babylon Den, and not open to the public. Though you can't get inside, you can still admire its exterior architectural details. The building is five blocks from Magazine Street, which is popular for dining and shopping.