My sons-in-law each finished at a different university. I attended St. Mary's Dominican College. Which is the oldest and most prestigious university in the greater New Orleans area?
Your school, which has been closed since 1984, began when the Dominican nuns came to New Orleans in 1860 and wanted to start a school for girls. The nuns acquired, not long after they arrived, a piece of land in what used to be called the village of Greenville in Uptown. Then, in 1865, they transferred their students to the completed college. The main building at 7214 St. Charles Ave. was erected in 1882, and in 1910, St Mary's became the first Catholic women's college in Louisiana.
However, the prestigious Tulane University is older still, beginning under another name in 1834 -- the Medical College of Louisiana -- and was absorbed into the new University of Louisiana in 1847. Then, thanks to money donated by the generous New Orleans merchant Paul Tulane, the school was renamed Tulane University in 1884.
Another old and prestigious university is Loyola. Some of the earliest settlers in New Orleans and Louisiana were the Jesuits who opened a boarding college in St. Landry Parish in 1837. Then in 1849, they opened the College of the Immaculate Conception at the corner of Baronne and Common streets. They opened another college on its present site in 1904 on land purchased in 1886 following the Cotton Centennial Exposition. In 1911, the Jesuits reorganized, and a charter was granted in 1912 to Loyola University by the Louisiana Legislature.
And Xavier University, established in 1925 from the coeducational secondary school founded by St. Katharine Drexel in 1915, is today the only historically black Catholic college in the Western hemisphere. Its highly regarded College of Pharmacy opened in 1927. St. Katharine was canonized in October 2000 by Pope Paul II.
I recently purchased a festival poster for $5 on a street corner near Esplanade and Claiborne avenues. The poster is signed and numbered by the artist Francoise Gilot and was apparently commissioned for the "New Orleans Summer Celebration 1981."
I have found plenty of information on the artist, but none at all on the festival. Can you help me?
Absolutely! In 1980, a nonprofit organization was founded that had as its purpose the promotion of fun in New Orleans during the hot summer months. The organization was called LA FETE and was billed as "A Summer Celebration."
Established by Phyllis Dennery, a volunteer who devoted countless hours and boundless energy to many civic and religious projects including the founding and development of WYES-TV, LA FETE was a series of summertime activities designed to get the locals out of the house and attract tourists as well.
As you know, things can get kind of slooow here in the Big Easy when the heat and humidity settle in, and many New Orleanians just bide their time waiting for the start of the cultural season -- opera, ballet, symphony and theater -- that begins in the fall. So 22 years ago many prominent citizens, congressional leaders, tourism officials, hotel and restaurant owners turned to Mrs. Dennery, a successful organizer, to create a series of events to spice up the summer.
LA FETE set up headquarters and volunteers got to work. At first LA FETE concentrated on entertainment, but there were also cooking programs, races, river cruises, fireworks, and a 1983 performance by ballet star Mikhail Baryshnikov and his troupe.
Food tastings and demonstrations by famous New Orleans chefs drew bigger crowds every year soon found LA FETE producing the first National Festival of American Foods and Cookery in 1984. When the festival's focus turned to food, Mrs. Dennery compiled a cookbook titled Dining In -- New Orleans Cookbook.
LA FETE was going strong when Phyllis Dennery died in 1991, but since then other festivals have taken its place.
New Orleans is still famous for the heat and humidity, but more and more locals and tourists are getting out to celebrate the summer anyway.