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What do they research at the Southern Regional Research Center on Robert E. Lee Blvd.? 

Blake Pontchartrain: The New Orleans N.O. It All

Hey Blake,

I was on Robert E. Lee Boulevard and saw the Southern Regional Research Center. What do they research?


Dear Troy,

  The Southern Regional Research Center (SRRC) at 1100 Robert E. Lee Blvd. is one of four centers in America operated by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the in-house scientists of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Sandy Miller Hays, a spokeswoman for the ARS, says the center was created in response to advances in technology in the early 20th century that resulted in a surplus of agricultural commodities that required a new place to use and process them. Areas of research include food and feed safety, food processing techniques, food quality (its taste and sensory qualities), global food security, climate change and more. Permanent press for fabrics was developed at the SRRC, and its current research includes how to use cotton in bandages in ways that will aid wound healing, as well as in sheets to prevent bedsores.

  Congress appropriates funding for the ARS.

  The building on Robert E. Lee Boulevard has been there since the 1940s and is structurally identical to the three other research centers located in Peoria, Illinois; Albany, California; and Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania. There are 90 smaller labs throughout the U.S. and in Argentina, China, France and Australia. The locations were selected in an effort to find ways to control pests without chemicals.

  Many plants and crops grown in the U.S. aren't native to this country; they were brought here by immigrants. When the seeds arrived, so did the pests. Scientists with the ARS work in countries where the plants and pests are indigenous, seeking the fungus, wasp, or insect that consumes those pests. Once those predators are located, they are quarantined and tested, then integrated into crop areas here.

Hey Blake,

What is the history of the art deco building at 727 Carondelet St.? The front reads "L.E. Rabouin Memorial School," but current signs read "International High School of New Orleans."

Little Bro

The International High School of New Orleans on Carondelet Street was built in 1937 in the then-popular art deco style. Today it houses a charter school, as well as Bard Early College.


Dear Little Bro,

  The building was completed in 1937 as a memorial to Louis E. Rabouin, who before his death donated $300,000 to build a school in his name. Rabouin was born in New Orleans in 1853. Rabouin was 13 when his father died, and the teenager had to help support his seven siblings. He dabbled in cotton, stocks and real estate, then served as president of the Liberty Homestead Association for 33 years. When he died in 1933, his wife, Louise Marie Jewett Rabouin, made sure the Orleans Parish School Board received the donation for a school. E.A. Christy, supervising architect for the school board, designed the building, which cost $350,000.

  The school initially was named L.E. Rabouin Memorial Trades School and later L.E. Rabouin Vocational High School. In the late 1930s and early '40s, it was a girls-only school with about 900 students. It offered courses such as domestic science, millinery, flower arranging and sewing. Students designed and sewed costumes for several Carnival krewes.

  The Recovery School District took over the building after Hurricane Katrina and the levee failures of 2005. Several years ago the building became a charter school called International High School of New Orleans, which focuses on diversity, multiculturalism, business and foreign languages. The building also houses Bard Early College, a program that allows high school students to take courses taught by college faculty and receive college credits while also earning a high school diploma.

  A bust of L.E. Rabouin stands in the foyer at the school's main entrance.

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