At Belladeux, we take pride in finding the unique and most sought out event items. Our vendors here in New Orleans are only the best and know what it takes to put on a memorable party. We couldn’t do our jobs well if we didn’t have such great vendors to work with. That’s why Belladeux loves to highlight vendors!

Located on the corner of Elysian Field and St Claude Avenue, the Auto Shop is the latest offering from Arts Estuary 1024. This space is unlike any other venue here in town. When we first stepped into the space, we thought to ourselves that it was like The Secret Garden that Mary Lennox discovered in the novel of the same name. It is so rural with raw architecture and luscious greens that create the feeling of being somewhere otherworldly. The Auto Shop is a great place to hold intimate weddings and events.

I had the pleasure to discuss with Steffani Clemons, the events manager of the Art Estuary 1024’s Auto Shop space, how the venue came to be. Here’s an inside look into what it took to bring The Auto Shop to life.

Ashley: Can you tell me the history of the Auto Shop? What is the facility used for now?

Steffani: The Auto Shop has been a myriad of different types of stores. It started off as a cotton broker’s shop back when St. Claude was Good Children Street and North Rampart was Love Street. It has been a cobbler’s shop and many different stores owned by various immigrants new to New Orleans.  Its namesake is from the 60’s when the space was an auto store and service station. It’s hard now to imagine cars going in and out of such a fortified space.

In a sense, it is an extension of our offices. With it being walled in, it’s almost like another interior addition, only with a bricked in archway, and trees that have been brought in by birds over time. Right now, it’s a great reprieve for the tenants in our building as well as a great event space.

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A: How did you get involved with the Auto Shop?

S: I work with National Performance Network/Visual Artists Network, a national art non-profit based here in New Orleans. It has always been NPN/VAN’s dream to have a permanent home base filled with like-minded tenants and space to host performances, which led to us to the our building on Elysian Fields Avenue and The Auto Shop behind it.

A: The raw space is one of a kind. What is your favorite aspect of the grounds?

S: I have so many favorites. But I think my favorite view that continually stays with me is looking toward the river from a little beyond the threshold. With the outer courtyard wall, it is such a magical site. Second to that would be the silhouette of the trees against the brick wall at night.

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A: When a couple comes in to check out the venue for their wedding, what would you say draws them to it?

S: Most definitely the surprise of coming into the courtyard. You just don’t expect to walk down this concrete path, past a lime green building and turn the corner into this urban forest. I think people want their guests to have that same feeling.  I love hanging back, during a site visit, to let people experience walking through the threshold alone.

A: I know the Auto Shop is going to undergo a huge renovation. Can you give any information on what will happen to get our readers excited?

S: I don’t know about huge renovations, it’s been more like a gentle awakening of an old friend.  We have worked with Evans and Lighter, our landscape architects, to complete the first phase. Now we have gravel paths and a raised area that can be used in many different ways. The character and wildness is still there and that was intentional. So much thought went into the planning in order to keep the integrity of the space and for all people to able to enjoy the views. There are more enhancements to come, but the space as it is now is the base.

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A: If you could describe the Auto Shop in three adjectives what would they be?

S: Local, rustic and contemporary.

A: What are you most looking forward to for the future of the shop?

S: I’m looking forward to the space being activated by the community. And am excited to see the different ways in which folks will use the venue. It is definitely one of those enchanting, hidden gems in New Orleans that people leave with rich memories of either a family gathering, performance or an art installation. All of which together, are weddings to me.

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So there you have it! The hidden gem known as The Auto Shop. If you are interested in checking out the venue, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Steffani at sclemons@npnweb.org.

Check out the Arts Estuary 1024 and see what they have going on at http://npnweb.org/ae1024/

Belladeux has been busy with Arts Estuary 1024. We currently finished a photo shoot there with an impeccable team of vendors. Stay tuned for the exciting reveal in a couple of weeks

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