Leon C. Weiss

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Leon Charles Weiss
Born December 10, 1882 (1882-12-10)
Farmerville, Louisiana, U.S.
Died April 1, 1953 (1953-05) (aged 70)
New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
Nationality American
Alma mater Tulane University
Practice Weiss, Dreyfous, and Seiferth
Buildings Louisiana State Capitol

Leon Charles Weiss (December 10, 1882 – April 1, 1953) was a politically connected American architect who designed most major monuments of the Huey Pierce Long, Jr., gubernatorial administration in Louisiana, including the skyscraper-shaped capitol, the governor's mansion, and Louisiana State University buildings, all in Baton Rouge, and the LSU Medical School in New Orleans.

Weiss was born in Farmerville, the seat of Union Parish, north of Ruston. In 1903, he graduated from engineering school at Tulane University in New Orleans He formed the Weiss and Dreyfous firm in New Orleans in 1920 with F. Julius Dreyfous. The name was changed in 1927 to Weiss, Dreyfous, and Seiferth, when Solis Seiferth entered the firm.

In the 1920s, the firm designed the Jung and Pontchartrain hotels in New Orleans and the Eola Hotel in Natchez, Mississippi. They also designed the Granada Theatre in New Orleans, Louisiana. The three partners met Long and financially backed him for governor in 1928 and successfully opposed his impeachment in 1929.

The company continued to design state buildings in the Richard Webster Leche administration (1936–1939). These included Charity Hospital ("Big Charity") in New Orleans and other university structures.

Weiss (not Dreyfous and Seiferth) was indicted in 1939 during the "Louisiana Hayride" scandals for having used the United States mail to defraud in regard to an unspecific building contract for Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, the seat of Lincoln Parish in north Louisiana. Weiss' trial was marked by "guilt-by-association" tactics by the U.S. attorney and by anti-Semitism. He was convicted in 1940 and imprisoned. He resumed his practice in 1952, only a year before his death. With Edward Silverstein, he managed to design an addition to the Jung Hotel.

Weiss died in New Orleans.

References[edit]

  • "Leon Charles Weiss", A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography, Vol. 2 (1988), pl. 831
  • James M. Thompson, ed., Louisiana Today (1939)
  • Arthur Scully, Jr., "The Physical Legacy of Huey Long", Ph.D. dissertation, Tulane University

Weiss, Dreyfous & Seiferth Office Records, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.