The Centanni Home: A Dairyman's Famous Christmas Display

Salvador "Sam" Centanni was the son of Antonino Centanni. He and his father owned Gold Seal dairy until 1986. Sam and his wife, Myra Collins, lived at 4506 Canal Street. The house was designed by H. Jordan MacKenzie and completed in 1917. In 1934, the home was named the "Home of Tomorrow" by a leading trade organization.

The home is most remembered for its stunning Christmas decorations. Myra Centanni Mehrtens, one of the couple's daughters, recounts that the tradition may have begun in 1946 with a nativity scene and a Santa Claus with his eight reindeer. Each year Myra would add another feature and eventually the annual decorations took on specific themes. When the space program was expanding, Santa Claus was showcased on a “moonscape” in the Centanni's yard. Many New Orleanians remember the annual tradition of driving to Mid-City specifically to see the Centanni House.

The Christmas decorations lasted until January 1, 1967. On this night, the Centannis hosted a New Year’s Eve party; with all the excitement, Myra's weakened heart stopped. Sam Centanni never turned the Christmas lights back on, but in 2005 he allowed them to be displayed at City Park.