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History

GoNOLA Find: Popp’s Fountain in City Park

Originally built in 1937 as one of the depression-era Works Progress Administration projects in City Park, Popp’s Fountain now plays frequent host to wedding ceremonies and cocktail parties. It wasn’t always that way, however. Popp’s Fountain has an interesting history worth exploring, which is what makes it this week’s pick for our GoNOLA Find.

During the 1970s, Popp’s Fountain was a favorite gathering spot for a local coven of witches, led by Mary Oneida Toups. The occult’s attraction to the fountain has been referenced in the recent season of hit TV series, “American Horror Story: Coven,” which is set in New Orleans. Many plot points from the series are loosely based on famous haunted places in New Orleans as well as historical characters, including Mary Oneida. Oneida was the founder of the first coven to be recognized by the State of Louisiana as an official church; the network of witchcraft practitioners she created still exists today as The Religious Order of Witchcraft, although now based out of Connecticut.

In the 1970s, Popp’s Fountain and the surrounding area had been long neglected. The area was unfenced, and the fountain’s water turned off, which made the lush outdoor setting and circular design of the empty fountain ideal for Oneida and her witches, who used the space to perform magical ceremonies.

In recent years, Popp’s Fountain has undergone a significant restoration: the 12 surrounding acres are fenced in, the fountain’s waters flow freely once again, and The Arbor Room venue was added to accommodate wedding receptions and parties. However, some visitors still report strange experiences when visiting the fountain, including a sense of lost time, after somehow spending hours at the fountain but feeling as though only a few minutes had passed.

Popp’s Fountain is located in City Park, near the Interstate 610 overpass, between Marconi Drive and Zachary Taylor Drive. It’s close to the NOLA City Bark Dog Park. To book the fountain or Arbor Room as a venue for weddings or parties, contact City Park.

Mallory Whitfield is an artist, speaker, and author based in New Orleans. In 2016, she was honored to be included in the 19th class of Gambit’s 40 Under 40, which salutes the brightest innovators, artists, and professionals in New Orleans. She currently hosts the Badass Creatives podcast, which features marketing and business advice for creatives, as well as interviews with a diverse range of handmade artists, performers, makers, and creative entrepreneurs. During Mardi Gras, you can usually find her parading with Noisician Coalition in Muses or with The 501st Legion in Tucks.

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