The structure to which you refer, the Christopher Inn Apartments at 2110 Royal St., was built in 1972 by the Archdiocese of New Orleans as a residence for senior citizens. However, before this, there were lovely old structures on the block that included a church and a library.
In 1858 we had the Third Presbyterian Church. This building later became Holy Redeemer Church and was dedicated in January 1920 by Archbishop Shaw. It had been purchased by the Josephite Fathers as a place of worship for Negro Catholics. On the same block was the Holy Redeemer Convent.
Next to the church was the Royal Branch of the New Orleans Public Library that had been built in 1907 with Carnegie funds.
When Hurricane Betsy came to town in 1965, she left much of the church and the library damaged from the high winds and falling debris. Neither was renovated.
When I was a little nipper back in the early 1930s, I remember a large house on the downtown side of Canal Street between N. Robertson and Villere streets. It was the only building on the whole square. I heard that it belonged to Tulane University. What can you tell me about it?
You have a good memory, because that building has been gone for about 65 years. However, until 1930 it was the home of the Medical Department of Tulane University.
Tulane Medical Center was founded in 1834 when seven distinguished New Orleans physicians joined to establish a medical school as part of the University of Louisiana. The name was changed after a generous donation by Paul Tulane.
As the number of faculty and students grew, the medical building on Common Street became entirely inadequate. Their problem was solved when Ida Ann Richardson, wife of Dr. Tobias G. Richardson, donated $100,000 for a new building to house laboratories and anatomy rooms. Since the entire Common Street campus of the university was also inadequate, the administrators purchased almost the entire square of ground for the new building.
The famous architect Thomas Sully and Dr. Edmond Souchon went on a trip all over America to inspect medical schools to learn what new features they might include to produce what was to be the most modern medical building in the country. While they were gone, the generous Mrs. Richardson donated another $46,000.
The ideas Sully and Souchon returned with were added to the others, and the design for the new building, if you remember, was a very ornate, four-story structure with lots of gingerbread and multiple chimneys. The inside was perfect. It contained ample room for lectures and laboratories, and featured a sky-lighted amphitheater that could seat 535 doctors and students.
The building, named the Richardson Memorial in honor of Dr. Richardson, who had died the year before, held its first classes in October 1893. Ida Ann, his widow, saw to it that the monument to her husband, who had given years of service to the medical school, was well cared for. She even supervised the landscaping and had trees and shrubs from her home in the Garden District transplanted to the grounds of the new building.
In 1907, the building was renovated and renamed the Josephine Hutchinson Memorial when the new Richardson Building was relocated on the Uptown campus of Tulane University.
With time, the building on Canal Street also became crowded and obsolete, and a decision was made to replace it. A new Hutchinson Memorial medical building, one of the best medical teaching units in the country, was built on Tulane Avenue, and the nine-story brick building was completed and dedicated in December 1930.
Shortly afterward, the old medical building was demolished, and by 1938 it was replaced by a service station, a tire supply company, and four used-car dealers.