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Blakeview: Werlein's, 175 years later

The music store got its start in 1842

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This year marks the 175th anniversary of the start of the music store business that made the Werlein name synonymous with sheet music and instrument sales in New Orleans for more than 150 years. Born in Germany in 1812, Philip Werlein came to the United States at age 19. A music teacher, he opened his first music store in Vicksburg, Mississippi in 1842. In 1852, he opened a larger store on Camp Street in New Orleans, where he became a major sheet music publisher. The business remained in family hands after Werlein's death in 1899, with stores on Baronne Street and in the 100 block of Canal Street. Werlein's opened its well-known four-story location at 605 Canal St. in 1905. The huge sign that towered above advertised "Werlein's For Music." Over the years, a long list of notables took music lessons, purchased instruments or had their instruments repaired there, including Fats Domino, Pete Fountain, Dr. John, Jimmy Buffett and Harry Connick Jr. Werlein's is said to be the place where Louis Armstrong bought his first horn. By the 1980s, the Werlein's chain had grown to 14 locations across the South. After 85 years on Canal Street, the family closed that store in 1990. The chain had its swan song with the closure of its Metairie store in 2003. The Canal Street building was restored and is now Palace Cafe.

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