By Nick BeJeaux
Baton Rouge nightlife is getting ready for a blast from the past after it’s newest nightclub, 1913, is preparing to open it’s doors.
Located in the historic Louisiana Theatre Building, the first theatre to be built in Baton Rouge, the club will fit perfectly in a classically art deco city that remembers the days of Huey P. Long all too well. The name of the venue was taken from the stone carvings that commemorate when the building itself was built in July of 1913.
“It just kinda stuck,” said co-owner Andrew Bayard. “It’s on the front of the building, and we kept coming back to it. Louisiana history has always been really cool, not just for me, for kids in our generation. But it wasn’t like, ‘oh, let’s go back to the 1920s,’ it was’ mostly ‘it’s on the building, let’s stick with it.’’’
As to be expected with a building just over 100 years old, renovations were no easy task.
“When we took the building over, there was nothing there; the roof was falling in for the most part,” said Bayard.
Bayard, who co-owns the club with Christian Walther and Metro Councilman John Delgado, saw the crumbling building as a blank canvas. Both he and his partners have a deep affection for the early twentieth century, and couldn’t pass up a chance to breathe new life into that era.
“We immediately had to upgrade all the plumbing, they gutted the slab, and we have 100 percent new electrical systems,” said Bayard. “But when you talk about modern versus classic, it is absolutely a modern building when you walk in. However, a lot of cool classic elements are throughout the space.”
Classical features like the wooden proscenium archway near the bathrooms stand next to sleek and modern black granite bar tops. All of it blended together with turn of the century fixtures.
“We have mirrored chrome lighting fixtures, and the bathrooms are very chrome as well with silver flake granite,” said Bayard. “It’s definitely something you’ve seen in other nightclubs, but it isn’t ultra modern. It is modern, but in the way that plays back to the ‘20s and ‘30s.”
Bayard says 1913 is poised to carve out its own niche in nightlife on Third Street. Other nightclub experiences, namely XO, are clear across town and Bayard and his partners saw this blank canvas as a chance to bring something new to Third Street.
“We saw an opportunity Downtown. We have Huey’s next door, which has live music and drinks, then we have Drafthouse across the street where we do acoustic shows and have a ton of beers on tap. We just saw the concept of 1913 as a way to open another venue in the area that wouldn’t compete with our other venues.”
When 1913 finally opens its door, patrons will be confronted with a new experience that, up until that point, they would have to go out of town for.
“The upstairs is open to the downstairs, so you’ll have 90 feet of balcony that overlooks the dance floor,” “To stand on that rail and watch what’s going on underneath you is a really cool experience, and one that we don’t really have in Baton Rouge.”
The reservation-required VIP lounges will be locate in the upstairs area as well.
“If you want your own couches, bottle service and cocktail waitresses, we’ll be able to offer that as well,” he said.
Parking is an issue when going out Downtown, as anyone will tell you. But 1913 hopes to make that part its experience as well.
“We have three parking lots downtown that we lease out for parking our customers,” the biggest complaint is that there is no parking downtown. And we’re looking at doing valet service from right in front of the club – that’s another thing Baton Rouge has never seen before.”
Of course, no nightclub inspired by the Prohibition era, which birthed the first American cocktails, would be complete without a few bars and well trained mixologists.
“It is really cool to delve into the Great Gatsby and Prohibition era themes for a bar, too; it was a time when cocktail were at the forefront and ordering one was more than ordering a Jack and Coke,” said Bayard. “We’ve always tried to emulate that, but with cooler cocktails.”
Apart from valet parking and preserving cocktail history, 1913 hopes to also introduce new music to BR by attracting out-of-town acts.
“Were going to try to have very popular DJs; music today is always evolving,” “If you would have told me six years ago that a bar has six DJs and that would work, I would have said ‘absolutely not!’ because bands were the thing back then. But they’ve started to capture the public’s attention. and with that in mind, we want bring in guys who haven’t necessarily seen the Baton Rouge market.”
Bayard says that he and his team are in no rush to get the club open. After all, they’re incredibly proud of the work they’ve put into resurrecting the old building and they want it’s first night of receiving guests to be a wild success. There is a slight possibility of a soft opening the weekend after the LSU/Alabama game, but even that isn’t certain.
“We’re not rushing to get that weekend, if it happens it happens. We want all the furniture and coolers in place, we want the staff trained right and we really want to make an impression when we open. We don’t have to rush it.”
Follow 1913 on Facebook for updates on openings and for more information. It’s website, www.the1913.com, is currently under construction.