What's up with the old gray school building on South Carrollton between Hampson and Maple streets? I live in the Riverbend, I have never seen any action at this building. Is it abandoned? Is it privately owned?
That grand structure in the 700 block of South Carrollton Avenue is the old Carrollton Courthouse, which also was home to several schools. The building recently has received attention from those determined to preserve it. In June, the National Trust for Historic Preservation placed the building on its list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.
Built in 1855, the Carrollton Courthouse originally served as the seat of government for Jefferson Parish when that area, known as the City of Carrollton, was part of neighboring Jefferson. The Greek Revival-style building was designed by noted architect Henry Howard. It remained the center of government for Carrollton until 1874, when Carrollton was annexed by New Orleans.
When it no longer was used as a courthouse or government center, the building became a school. It was McDonogh 23 until 1950. After the community and preservationists successfully blocked an attempt to demolish the building, it became Benjamin Franklin High School in 1957. In 1990, Franklin relocated to its current campus on the lakefront and other schools used the Carrollton building, most recently Lusher and Audubon Charter School.
The building, owned by the Orleans Parish School Board, has been vacant since 2013. The board has considered selling the property, which means the building could be demolished. Last month, the Tulane and Louisiana State University architecture schools announced a team of students and professors will study potential uses or redevelopment ideas for the property.
The Louisiana Landmarks Society has launched a petition drive to help save the building. Learn more at www.louisianalandmarks.org.