What's the history behind the McFadden Mansion in City Park?
That building, located on Fredrichs Street near Wisner Boulevard, has long been the site of Christian Brothers School for boys. It once was the site of a five-bedroom house built by Fred Bertrand in 1909. In 1919, William Harding McFadden, an oil millionaire from Fort Worth, Texas, bought the house and converted it into a seven-bedroom, 11-bath mansion with several drawing rooms, an indoor swimming pool, a ballroom, a trophy room and a kennel for about 40 hunting dogs. It was rumored he planned to set up a branch of his business in New Orleans, but that never came to pass.
The mansion grounds were lavish, with sunken gardens designed by Wilhelm Pederson on each side of the house and an Eastern-style garden in the rear. McFadden also owned estates in Texas, Colorado and Oklahoma, but he and his wife liked to visit New Orleans for the thoroughbred racing season, Mardi Gras, the Sugar Bowl and other special occasions. McFadden loved sports, and during the 1941 New Orleans Open Golf Tournament in City Park, he invited 50 golfers from the tournament to the mansion for breakfast, where he served them pheasant under glass.
City Park acquired more and more land and grew up all around McFadden's mansion, and in December 1943 he sold his house, 4 acres of land, three houses and a greenhouse to the park board for $40,000.
At first McFadden's mansion was leased to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for its Southern Forest Experiment Station, and the grounds around it were planted in sugar cane and other crops. In 1949, Sam Barthe opened an all-boys school at the site. The Christian Brothers signed a lease and opened Christian Brothers School in 1960. The school is open to boys in fifth, sixth and seventh grades.