The big white house at 2 Audubon Place was built by William T. Jay in 1908. Jay, a cotton broker and vice president of Union Lumber Company of Madisonville, built the magnificent Southern Colonial house for a whopping $15,000. Because the developers required that the house face Audubon Place and Jay wanted it to face St. Charles Avenue, the home has two major entrances. In 1917, he sold his mansion to produce importer Samuel Zemurray for $60,000.
Zemurray, also known as Sam the Banana Man, was born in 1877 in Bessarabia. With no formal education, he immigrated to New York in 1892, and for a time peddled bananas in Alabama. In 1900 he shrewdly entered a partnership to buy a steamer to transport Honduran bananas. Eventually, as president and driving force of the United Fruit Company, Zemurray was extremely successful and contributed more than $1 million to Tulane University. He also founded child guidance and mental health clinics in New Orleans. In recognition for his outstanding community service, he received the 1938 Times-Picayune Loving Cup. Zemurray died in 1961, and in 1965 his widow donated the house to Tulane University for use as the president's residence.
Audubon Place is our city's second residential park. The lots originally sold for about $5,000, and the first one was purchased in 1894. There were 28 lots for sale, and the developers stipulated, among other things, that each house must cost more than $7,000 and must face Audubon Place Park, the neutral ground. Deeds called for a meeting of the property owners in 1900 to "decide whether the said Audubon Place Park and Places shall be dedicated to public use." Since the street has remained private, we know what they decided.
All of the houses on Audubon Place were built between 1894 and 1927, and 20 of the 26 were built in the 20th century. Some of the original houses were ravaged by fire, and on the site stand the replacements. While some of the houses stayed in the family longer than others, every one of them has been sold at least once to an outsider.
I was wondering who Oretha Castle Haley is. Since they changed the name of part of Dryades Street, who is this woman in New Orleans?
Oretha Castle, born on July 22, 1939, in Oakland, Tenn., was a student at Southern University in New Orleans during the turbulent 1960s. She had moved with her parents in 1947 to New Orleans and graduated from Joseph S. Clark High School.
While a student at SUNO, she became involved in the Dryades Street Boycott in 1960 as she and many others fought the valiant struggle for civil rights. She also helped organize the Canal Street boycotts of that same year.
Along with Rudy Lombard and Jerome Smith, Oretha Castle formed a New Orleans chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). She eventually became the head of this organization, and in 1967 married Richard Haley, a fellow CORE member.
Mrs. Haley's parents were very supportive of her efforts and those of her sister Doris Jean and offered their home as headquarters for the work of CORE activists.
Later, Mrs. Haley continued to help the African-American community in her capacity as deputy administrator at Charity Hospital, where she worked for better heath care. While she was there, she helped organize the New Orleans Sickle Cell Anemia Foundation.
Always the activist, Mrs. Haley directed the 1972 political campaign that helped Dorothy Mae Taylor become the first African-American woman legislator in Louisiana.
After winning many battles for civil rights, on Oct. 10, 1987, Oretha Castle Haley lost a personal battle with cancer. After a lengthy illness, she died at the age of 48 and was buried in Providence Memorial Park