“2529-2533 Carondelet Street: A Commercial History”
By Tonya M. Jordan
Living History NOLA
1864 and 1865, Hermann Exterstein purchased three vacant lots on the corner of Appollo Street, now called Carondelet, and Third Street. Exterstein was a German immigrant who ran a grocery store and coffee house in the area of the current Central Business District. The property at 2529-2533 Carondelet Street, on the corner of Third Street, has been home to a number of commercial endeavors. Its story begins around the end Civil War. In His Interest in his new property, however, was merely financial. He quickly reconfigured the lots and sold the corner-most tract at high profit in 1866 to Frederic Lutt and his wife Henrietta Bauer Lutt. Evidence suggests that a building was constructed on the property under Hermann Exterstein’s ownership.
Friederich and Henrietta Lutt were immigrants as well, most likely from Denmark. Friederich operated a grocery store at the corner of Carondelet and Second Street. The family made their home at their new property on the corner of Carondelet and Third. They had only one child, a son named Ernest. He was in his late teens when his parents purchased their new home.
Just two years later, Friederich passed away at the age of 41. Mother and son continued living in the family home. Henrietta took in work as a seamstress, while Ernest earned a living from jobs centered around important technologies of the age—telegraph operator, photographer, and streetcar operator. He donated his share of his parents’ home to his mother, thus making Henrietta the sole owner of the property. She herself, however, died in early 1875. By the end of that year, Ernest had embarked on a new life. He married in October, and sold his mother’s home one month later.
The new owner was Catherine Wetzel Hahn. Originally from Germany, Catherine was a widow and mother of eight children. Her husband Bernard Hahn had been a successful poultry dealer, who amassed a respectable amount of real estate before he died in 1871 at the age of 52. He operated a grocery store on Baronne at Third, and his wife continued the family business after his death and managed the family real estate as well. She purchased the property at Carondelet and Third from Ernest Lutt in 1875 for $1,700. Initially, she continued to live at the family home with her three youngest children after her husband passed away. But in 1890, she moved to 2531 Carondelet Street. By 1900, her granddaughter Rosa Pfeffer had moved in as well. Catherine lived at 2531 Carondelet until she died in 1906 at the age of 80. She was buried next her husband Bernard in Lafayette Cemetery No. 1.
The next owner of 2529-2533 Carondelet was Saveria Vitrano Stagno. Evidence suggests that Saveria constructed a new building on the property between 1907 and 1914, one designed for commercial use. While the address 2529 Carondelet continued to be residential as late as 1922, 2531 and 2533 Carondelet housed only commercial enterprises after Catherine Hahn’s death in 1906.
The first business of note at this location was the Jackson Cold Kitchen. A deli-style restaurant, the Jackson Cold Kitchen began advertising in 1914. It also catered private events, providing food and skilled wait staff. A sister outfit, the Jackson Employment Agency, which specialized in domestic and hospitality staffing, was located at the same address. The Cold Kitchen was still at 2533 Carondelet in 1921. By 1926, however, the business moved to a new location at 3211 Carondelet.
The 1920s, 30s and 40s saw a succession of auto-related businesses at Carondelet and Third Street. This is appropriate to the times, as automobiles evolved as the main mode of transportation during these decades. Jules Teberne purchased the property for $10,000 in cash in 1925. Jules was born in France and arrived in New Orleans in 1888 at the age of sixteen. He later married Noemi Brunet, and the couple had one child, Helene, in 1898. Jules opened his own business, the Southern Battery Service, in 1921. In 1926, he moved the company to 2529-2531 Carondelet. He was soon joined by Charles Maund, a young businessman of Irish descent, who operated Charley’s Service Station at 2533 Carondelet in the late 1920s.
Teberne mortgaged the property twice during the 1920s. He lost it the second time around to the Peoples’ Homestead Association. Under their ownership, New Orleans Checker Cabs moved in. The cab company dispatched cars from this location, and housed and repaired their fleet there as well. In 1946, New Orleans Checker Cabs was replaced by an auto paint and repair shop. By 1950, drivers could refuel, get an oil change, and have their car painted or repaired.
Lester E. Kabacoff purchased 2529-2533 Carondelet in January, 1950. The new owner promptly treated the building to a major upgrade. That summer, it was back on the market advertised under the heading “Just Completely Modernized”: Very fine office with asphalt tiled floor, fluorescent lights, etc. and large work space along with covered paved parking area. Ideal for dry cleaning (retail and plant), supplier, distributor, or contractor’s office. Fine show windows.1
1 Times-Picayune, June 4, 1950.
The update evidently appealed, because that fall RCA Service Company chose the location for their new local television factory. Here again, the business operating at this address was in lock-step with a crucial cultural development of the twentieth century: the advent of widespread television use.
Within a few years, however, RCA moved its local factory elsewhere. In 1954, the Garden District Laundromat owned by Talbot and Margaret Potter opened at 2533 Carondelet. This business became a neighborhood institution, lasting into the 21st century. Now, the building belongs to C & H Coin Laundry, owned by Carl Toups.
Black & Gold Wash & Fold was founded in 2010 by Carl Toups. It was a purchase and remodel of the existing laundromat with new Maytag machines. A fashion designer and tailor, April Donaldson, started working at Black & Gold Wash & Fold in 2011. In 2015, Toups approached Donaldson and asked her to buy it. Toups helped Donaldson find a loan. Donaldson was interested in the opportunity because it is a Community Space that generates income.
Since Donaldson acquired Black & Gold Wash & Fold, the company has landed most of its customers by hosting special events and existing customer relationships with the nearby residents. April was also a member of P.O.W.E.R.® (Potential of Women Entrepreneurs Realized), a nationwide chapter-based professional group of women in local communities founded by Fidelity Bank.
Customers come to Black & Gold Wash & Fold for the reliable machines, convenient location, and clean atmosphere. The company treats their customers with respect and gives personal attention that their customers are unable to get from other competitors. Additionally, due to the company’s heavy investment in machine maintenance, Black & Gold Wash & Fold has been able to acquire an average of 4.7 stars from +100 reviews on Google, the highest rating in the city with the next highest at 4.2 and 3.7 stars. Such consistent and responsible efforts exceed customer expectations and retain their business.
In 2022, Donaldson sold the Black & Gold Wash & Fold to Russell Bernstein. Donaldson is now pursuing her career in fashion design and tailoring again.
Russell Bernstein has lived in New Orleans since Fat Tuesday 2011. He is now a local business owner, landlord, business broker, and Realtor. He is also a recent graduate of the Economic Development Ambassador Program with New Orleans Business Alliance. Interestingly, Bernstein also has a historical connection to laundromats. Bernstein's great grandfather, Charles Strite, not only invented the pop-up toaster but also had a long career in the laundromat industry working in coin machine companies, first as an engineer and later as an executive.
99% of laundromats are just laundromats. While they may be clean and provide a valuable service, they are plain, boring, and have no culture to them.
However, we believe strongly in the way that laundromats impact local communities, particularly the underserved and marginalized communities that primarily use laundromats. Because of that, it's important to us that our employees, vendors, and partners have causes that they care about but that they do not prescribe to morals and ideals that create conflict in the communities that we support.
Examples of causes we support include but are not limited to:
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