City loses an old friend as a Gert Town landmark burns - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

City loses an old friend as a Gert Town landmark burns

Updated:
New Orleans, La. -

The city lost an old friend Monday night. Fire gutted the inside of the building that once was the Starlight Cafe, hotel and lounge.

"I received a call that the Starlight was on fire," said Willie Clark, whose family ran the business since the 1920's.

It took 68 firefighters to control the inferno at Forshey and Lowerline in Gert Town. The blaze took more than 70 years of memories down in minutes.

"In 1946 they opened with a nightclub, hotel and restaurant and it's been an impact on her life," said Clark, talking about his aunt, Mrs. Odile Washington.  She just celebrated her 104th birthday in June.

Washington and her husband started the restaurant decades ago. Willie Clark broke the news to Washington about the fire. "She doesn't need to see it. She doesn't need to see the devastation," he said.

"It was like an anchor because during the 60's you not only had a lot of prominent black places... This was one of them," said former patron Charlie Mills.

Clark suspects vagrants made a home inside the old building and somehow started the fire.

He feels the news put out the fire in his aunt's heart that has burned for more than a century. "This is her life. It's her life," he said, looking at the charred mess.

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