Located next to St. Louis Cathedral and facing Jackson Square, the Cabildo was built under Spanish rule in 1795-1799 and named after the municipal governing body that was located there. Before the transfer of the building to the state museum in 1908, the Cabildo served as a city hall, a courthouse and a prison. The building was designed by Gilberto Guillemard, who also designed St. Louis Cathedral and the Presbytere but the third story mansard roof with cupola was not added until 1847, replacing the original flat Spanish roof and balustrade. On the second floor is the Sala Capitular, or “Meeting Room”, in which much of the official business of the building took place.
In 1803, the Cabildo was the site of the Louisiana Purchase transfer, the event that acquired the Louisiana Territory for the United States, doubling its land-area. The Cabildo served as New Orleans City Hall until 1853 when it became the headquarters of the Louisiana State Supreme Court and saw the landmark Slaughterhouse and Plessy vs. Ferguson decisions. When the Marquis de Lafayette visited the Crescent City in 1825, the city allowed him the use of the Sala Capitular as his residence. In the 1870’s, the building came under gunfire on three separate occasions, all the product of Reconstruction era politics and racial tension. The building was transferred over to the Louisiana State Museum in 1908 and has served to educate the public about Louisiana history since. Unfortunately, in 1988 the Cabildo was severely damaged by fire. Over the next five years, the landmark was authentically restored using 600-year-old French timber framing technology. It reopened to the public in 1994 with a comprehensive exhibit focusing on Louisiana’s early history.
Students, Senior Citizens, Active Military $5
Children 12 and under Free
Groups of 15 or more w/ reservations 20% discount
School groups w/ reservations Free
Purchase tickets for two or more museums 20% discount
AAA membership discount, with card 10% discount