Larry Borenstein (1919–1981) was a property owner and art dealer known for settling in New Orleans and being involved with eveything in the French Quarter from the 50's until his death in 1981. He helped to start the entity that would become Preservation Hall under the management and ownership of Alan & Sandra Jaffe.
He was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Russian parents and when 13 years old he went to Chicago to join the World's Fair. He traveled with the fair for a while and served in the Navy as a civilian in Hawaii and pursued other ventures before he ended up in New Orleans in the 1950s.
Once in New Orleans he created several successful businesses which he eventually he lost due to changes in the world markets that he dealt in. He reinvented himself as a Gallery owner in the late 50s and eventually added live jazz performances to his gallery. Most of the musicians were aging and had been left behind by the national jazz scene but could still play the music.
His greatest gift seemed to be recognizing talent and putting folks in a position to suceed based on their natural talents. He placed Alan & Sandra Jaffe in a position to manage the jazz musicians and the entity that would become Preservation Hall. He gave the famous folk artist Bruce Brice and Sister Gertrude Morgan their starts and promoted other artist like Xavier de Callatay and Charles Richards. However, it was the artist Noel Rockmore who excited him the most. As his dealer he put Rockmore in charge of documenting the Preservation Hall jazz musicians. This would become Rockmore's most sought after work and eventually a book was published called Preservation Hall Portraits.
Larry Borenstien worked with many folks from all walks of life, collaborating and often helping them along the way in the French Quarter. This would include Mike Stark, JoAnne Clevenger, Jules Cahn, Bill Russell, Sonny Vaucresson, Andy Antippas and many more. If he liked you, he loved you and if he didn't, you knew it.
Before he died in 1981, it was said that he owned over half of the French Quarter, and had created the world market for Pre-Columbian art which he somehow got in the US from Mexico. His greatest legacy would have to be serving as the hub of the French Quarter community from the 50s to the 80s when it was the place where eccentrics, artists and entrepeneurs lived together and took care of their own.
Many feel "The French Quarter Community that was" began it's own slow death when Larry Borenstien passed away in 1981 and that certainly the coffin of the old French Quarter Community was sealed with the death of Alan Jaffe in 1987. These men were the backbone of the French Quarter community, they led by example and they took care of so many, who were in need, quietly without ever seeking anything in return.
1968 Preservation Hall Portraits By Larry Borenstein
1973 Profile- Larry Borenstein by Tom Bethell
1973 Galleries - Jazz in Art by Luba Glade - Great History of the Jazz Artist in New Orleans
1973 - New Orleans Soul to Travel by Luba Glade - Bruce Brice, Clementine Hunter & Sister Gertrude
1978- The Landlord of Royal Street by Luba Glade - Great Summary of Larry in later years
2013 Noel Rockmore & Shirley Marvin - Our Journey to the Discovery of Rockmore - Pgs. 25 & 32
Larry Borenstein - Wikipedia