In the 1930s, I attended McDonogh No. 23 School in the 700 block of S. Carrollton Avenue. I was told that the building used to be a courthouse in Jefferson Parish. Do you have any information on this?
You know I do. The building at 719 S. Carrollton Ave. served as the Jefferson Parish Courthouse from 1855 until 1874, when Carrollton was annexed by the City of New Orleans.
In 1852, the Town of Carrollton had become the seat of Jefferson Parish. Before that, the City of Lafayette (now the Garden District) was the parish seat, but the City of New Orleans annexed it as well.
Of course, a courthouse was needed, and construction began on the temple-type Greek Revival building in 1854. The famous and very popular Henry Howard was chosen as the architect. He is especially noted for his design of Madewood Plantation near Napoleonville and Nottoway and Belle Grove plantations around White Castle. The latter has been demolished. Many of Howard's Greek Revival and Italianate style buildings, homes and churches can be found in New Orleans.
When the architect died, the New Orleans Daily States told its readers on Nov. 25, 1884, "one of the most celebrated and successful architects in the United States died last evening. ... Beyond all question, he was the greatest architect this city ever knew." Howard was from Cork, Ireland, and had been a resident of New Orleans for 40 years before his death at age 68.
When the Town of Carrollton was annexed, the Jefferson Parish seat was moved across the river to Harvey. Some years after that, the Carrollton courthouse was purchased for $60,000 and renovated to become a school. In 1889, McDonogh No. 23 first occupied the building and continued to do so until about 1950. After a great deal of controversy about what would happen to the building next, it became the home of Benjamin Franklin Senior High School in 1957 and was used for that purpose until 1990, when Ben Franklin moved onto the campus of the University of New Orleans on Leon C. Simon Drive. The building on Carrollton did not, however, remain empty. More students' voices filled the halls as it soon became Lusher Extension School. Today it houses the Audubon Charter School.
I just got engaged and my fianeé surprised me with the question and the ring in front of the fountain at Audubon Park, the one in the front by the entrance gates on St. Charles Avenue. Can you tell me anything about it?
What a lovely place for a most romantic event. This beautiful fountain -- the Gumbel Memorial Fountain -- was a gift to Audubon Park from Beulah Joseph and Cora Moses in memory of their parents, Sophie and Simon Gumbel, a prominent Jewish family in New Orleans.
Designed by Isadore Konti, the fountain is of bronze and represents the meeting of air and water. The public ceremony for the dedication of the fountain was held on March 9, 1919, and speeches were made by various dignitaries, including then-mayor of New Orleans Martin Behrman.
Simon, born in Bavaria in 1832, had immigrated to America at age 14. He moved to New Orleans in 1864 and nine years later he and others founded S. Gumbel & Co., cotton and sugar factors and commission merchants. He was the first man to build and conduct a cottonseed oil mill. Investing heavily in real estate, Gumbel became very rich. At the time of his death in 1909, he was a millionaire and the biggest individual taxpayer in New Orleans. Both Gumbel and his wife, the former Sophie Virginia Lengsfield of New Orleans, were very involved in charity work. She died on Sept. 30, 1916.
Can you tell me the year the Park Esplanade Apartments were first built?
The building opened to residents in 1973. Even though it's just over 30 years ago, it's hard to imagine a time when the building wasn't there. It closed for a good while after Hurricane Katrina for extensive renovation. Like many structures in the city, it had extensive roof damage and flooding.