Odd Fellows Hall

skylar neal staff

Fifteen miles south of Thibodaux, the Odd Fellows Hall in Houma echoed with the dynamic performances of Chitlin’ Circuit artists through the night.

In the 1930s-1970s, Guitar Slim, Joe Tex and Ike and Tina Turner performed in Houma, Louisiana, at the Odd Fellows Hall, a venue along the Chitlin’ Circuit. 

Located at 915 Canal Street, The Odd Fellows hall stood between two historic bars: The 45 on the right and Sanko’s on the left. Part of the Odd Fellows Hall building still stands today between Vida Paint & Supply Inc. and The Eye Club.

The hall was located in Houma’s “red-light district,” an area where many Blacks lived. The area, known as the “Back of Town,” extended from Canal Street to Grinage Street. 

Just as other Chitlin’ Circuit venues had managers, Houma’s manager was Irvin Picou. Picou signed band contracts and scheduled performances for the hall. In addition to being the Hall manager, he worked as a porter at various locations in Houma, including on a train that ran through Shriever’s railroad. 

Alma Scott, a former resident of the Odd Fellows Hall, remembers living there and seeing Ike and Tina Turner, Guitar Slim and other artists perform. 

Scott says the Odd Fellows Hall was a two-story building with ten rooms on the first floor where people and performers could live or stay and a dance hall on the top floor where performers could play. To the building’s left was a porch with stairs leading to the dance hall.

Scott and the other children could not enter the hall when adults were present because of the presence of alcoholic beverages. Instead, they would watch from outside.

 “We could go up the back steps, and there was a big fan that was there that would cool the place off, and we could look through the fan and into the door, and oh boy, it was wonderful,” says Scott.

Houma resident Martha Turner remembers the Odd Fellows Hall from her childhood in Houma, though she was too young to enter the hall at the time. 

“When any groups or celebrities came in [to Houma], it was always held at the Odd Fellows Hall, because that was the biggest place in Houma that you could have anything like that,” she says. 

Alvin Tillman, a local Houma Chitlin’ Circuit historian, says Houma was a happening place.

“That particular area of Lafayette Street, and the Barataria - Canal Street area where the Odd Fellows hall was located, it was like our Bourbon Street. Just about anything you can think of was found in that particular area.”

Like Bourbon Street, Houma’s Canal Street thrived with activity, and The Odd Fellows Hall was the heart of it all.