It looks like the Milne Boys Home at Franklin and Filmore avenues is being fixed up. What's it going to be?
Entrepreneur Alexander Milne was born in Scotland in 1742 and arrived in Louisiana in his mid-30s. He acquired tracts of land from the then-ruling Spanish government and established Milneburg, an area that covered more than 20 miles along the south shore of Lake Pontchartrain. After the great fire of 1788, Milne amassed a small fortune with his hardware and brick-making businesses. He never married and had no children. After he died in 1838, his will provided funds to build two asylums for destitute orphans, one for boys and one for girls. For years, the board of directors for the asylums lacked the proper funding to construct a suitable boys' home on the land allotted by Milne's estate.
In 1932, the Municipal Boys Home, formerly known as the Colored Waifs' Home, merged with Milne Boys Home, and a new campus was constructed at 5420 Franklin Ave. in Gentilly. Milne Boys Home operated from 1933 to 1986, after which the facility was used for occasional after-school and summer programs. Since Hurricane Katrina, the buildings have been abandoned, and neighbors have complained that the property is an eyesore that attracts vagrants and illegal activities.
Several parties have shown interest in revitalizing the historic structures on the campus, including two colonial-style dormitory buildings. FEMA granted $1.5 million to repair the property after Katrina. The city allocated another $5.6 million, and Gentilly Development District Chairman and state Sen. JP Morrell, D-New Orleans, secured state funding for the project.
In keeping with the Milne Trust's goal of benefiting area youth, Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced last year the Milne site would be the new headquarters for the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission, which runs the city's recreation and cultural programs. The site also will house NOLA for Life, a Landrieu administration initiative that aims to reduce the murder rate in New Orleans by rebuilding neighborhoods, among other strategies.
Crews began clearing mold, asbestos and lead from the property in 2013 and, according to the city, the project should be completed this fall.