Louis Armstrong, The Colored Waifs’ Home & Milne Boys HomeBy
Public Notice Regarding Section 106 and NEPA Review of the City of New Orleans’ Proposal to Demolish and Replace the
Caretaker’s Cottage, Laundry, and Chapel and
Phase I Repairs to the Administration Building, North Cottage, and South Cottage,
Milne Boys’ Home, 5420 Franklin Avenue, New Orleans, Orleans Parish, LA
Seeking Public Comment
|Figure 1. Overlays on 1924-25 Taylor’s Map of New Orleans depicting the locations of the Colored Waifs’ Home (demolished) and the Milne Boys Home. The two facilities (yellow stars) were approximately 3.8 miles apart. (New Orleans Public Library)
(click to enlarge image)
|Figure 2. Page from a jazz history article with a 1913 photo (top) of the Colored Waifs’ Home, located at the “back of City Park Avenue.” The Colored Waifs’ Home was established circa 1906 and occupied a campus that had been used since the 1870s by several institutions including the Girod Asylum, the House of Good Shepherd and the Boys House of Refuge. (Delgado Community College website)
(click to enlarge image)
In response to comments posted on the FEMA Section 106 Notices for Louisiana, FEMA is posting this Addendum to address comments relating to the relationship of the Milne Boys’ Home campus and famous jazz musician, Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong (1901-1971). Based on the research described in this Addendum, FEMA has determined that the Milne Boys’ Home campus does not have a sufficiently strong connection with Louis Armstrong to support a finding that the campus is eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places for its association with a significant person (Criterion B).
Historical records document that Louis Armstrong was confined to the Colored Waifs’ Home from early 1913 until June 16, 1914. During this time he received his early musical instruction from Peter Davis, the band director. Sanborn Fire Insurance maps, City Directories, and various newspaper articles document the location of the Colored Waifs’ Home at 301 City Park Avenue, in the area presently bounded by Rosedale Drive, Canal Boulevard and Clayton Avenue. This was the semi-rural “back side” of City Park Avenue near St. Patrick’s Cemetery No. 3, Holt Cemetery and Conti Street.
In 1932 the Colored Waifs’ Home, by then known as the Municipal Boys Home, merged with Milne Boys’ Home and a new campus was constructed for the Milne Boys’ Home at 5420 Franklin Avenue in the Gentilly neighborhood of New Orleans in 1932 – 1933. The Milne Boys’ Home campus is approximately 3.8 miles from the site of the Colored Waifs’ Home.
By 1932, Louis Armstrong was an internationally renowned musician in his thirties and no longer living in New Orleans. Armstrong maintained contact with the staff of the Colored Waifs’ Home after he left New Orleans and spoke extensively about the pivotal influence the institution had upon his life. Following the construction of the Milne Boys’ Home campus he made donations to support musical education there, and occasionally visited the Milne Boys Home to encourage the boys in residence. Following Armstrong’s death in 1971, his widow gave the Milne Boys’ Home a portrait of Armstrong to supplement its small collection about Armstrong. In addition, a local historic group mounted a plaque at the Milne campus honoring Armstrong’s days at the Colored Waifs’ Home.
The use of the Colored Waifs’ Home campus, associated with Armstrong, is unclear after the 1932 merger with Milne Boys’ Home. It is likely that the City of New Orleans retained ownership of the property. A 1946 aerial photograph from the New Orleans Public Library’s online collection documents that the buildings of Colored Waifs’ Home remained through the 1940s. A caption for the photograph notes that demolition took place “sometime before 1974 when a new communications facility for the New Orleans Fire Department was built on the site.”
” ‘Captain’ Jones Is Presented Chair as Token of Services to Community.” Times-Picayune, June 30, 1951. Page 3.
Brothers, Thomas. Louis Armstrong’s New Orleans, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. New York, NY, 2006. Pages 10-11.
City Council of New Orleans. City Ordinances 199 CCS (1913), 9330 CCS (1926) and 13687 CCS (1932). Louisiana Division/City Archives, New Orleans Public Library.
Kay, George W. “The Milne Boys and Colored Waifs and ‘Little Louis.’” The Second Line(Publication of the New Orleans Jazz Club) Spring 1974: 9-11. Page 8 republished as part of “Delgado: Benevolent Businessman (1909 – 1921)” by Bob Monie. Delgado Community College website, August 30, 2011. (http://delgado90.blogspot.com/2011_08_01_archive.html)
Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, 1929-1940, Volume 8, Sheet 819.
Unknown photographer. Aerial Photograph dated November 12, 1946. “Image of the Month, October 2009,” Louisiana Division/City Archives, New Orleans Public Library. (http://nutrias.org/~nopl/monthly/october2009.htm)
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