On a recent trip to New Orleans, I noticed the great bas-relief atop Harrah's on Canal Street. Being a music fan, I'm pretty sure that's Vernel Bagneris, the guy I saw on Broadway. It that supposed to be him? What year was the sculpture done and who is the artist?
You've got a keen eye, my man.
Vernel Bagneris did pose for the artist. It was in September 1999 that the huge figures were put in place on Harrah's New Orleans Casino. This 80-foot-wide, 18-foot-high sculpture was created by two of New Orleans' great artists: George Dureau and Henri Schindler.
It was conceived in three sections. The sculpture was designed by George Dureau and made of fiberglass and polyurethane. The work, under the direction of master float designer Henri Schindler, was completed at Blaine Kern Studios. The title of the sculpture is A Salute to the Culture of Our City, Its Tradition of Dance and Music and Pageantry.
I have a question I hope you can answer. I recently took my elderly aunt to Sunday Mass at St. Louis Cathedral. During the service, she needed to use the restroom. We were told there is no restroom in the cathedral. Is this true?
Yes, it's true. If anyone needs to use the restroom during a service or function at the church, he or she must go next door to the Cabildo or to a nearby restaurant. The problem is that the church is very old and installing plumbing is next to impossible.
Masses have been celebrated on this spot since 1718, but the cathedral you visit today is the third located there. The first primitive building of wood and adobe was swept away in the hurricane of 1723. The second church of brick, wood and adobe was destroyed in the Good Friday fire of March 21, 1788. The cornerstone for the current structure was laid in 1789, and the building was finished in 1794. Before its completion, the church was raised to the position of cathedral in 1793, when Louisiana was made into a separate diocese.
This third church was made possible largely due to the generosity of Don Andres Almonester y Roxas, a wealthy Spanish nobleman who lived in the city. All he asked in return was to have a Mass for the repose of his soul celebrated every Sunday after his death. His remains were interred in the parish cemetery after his death in 1798, but later were moved to the cathedral and placed under a marble slab beneath the altar of the Sacred Heart.
The church, which cost about $50,000, initially was Spanish in style and resembled church buildings erected by the Spanish in Mexico and South America. In the 1850s, however, the cathedral was remodeled and enlarged by the architect J.N.B. Pouilly. Steeples were added as well as the present portico with columns and pilasters. The exterior appearance changed dramatically.
The interior has been renovated several times, but to the consternation of more than one Mass attendee, restrooms have never been added.
Is either of these schools open any more: Rabouin Trade School and Sacred Heart on Canal Street? I attended Sacred Heart in 1971 and went on to Rabouin for my senior year. I want to get documents verifying that I attended and graduated.
That was a few years back, and New Orleans has changed a lot. Rabouin is now Rabouin Career Magnet High School, located at 727 Carondelet St. (the ZIP code is 70130). You can try to call that school at 330-0217 or 592-8398.
The Sacred Heart of Jesus Church did not reopen after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and its school closed more than 20 years ago. You can, however, call the Office of Catholic Schools at 861-6218. That office may be able to provide you with the documents you need. Good luck.