Archive for Living With Jazz
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)
Meeting to discuss Booker T. Washington School Building
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Sylvanie F. Williams School Cafeteria
3127 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
The opening of Booker T. (as it is affectionately known) in September 1942 was a cause for great rejoicing in New Orleans’ large African-American population. After all, in 1900 the New Orleans School Board had voted to limit black education to the first five grades. Now a splendid new high school was opening that rivaled any white school—not a hand-me-down school but a state-of-the-art facility built specifically for black secondary education—a first in the city.
How had it all happened? Through decades of sustained activism from black leaders and bailout from the federal government.
Lacking political power, black leaders worked through civic, religious and educational organizations to press their concerns before the school board, being first with the total lack of public education beyond the fifth grade, as mandated by school board policy in 1900. The sixth was restored in 1909, the seventh in 1913, and the eighth in 1914. With these milestones under their belts, black leaders began the campaign for a high school. The much sought after school opened in 1917 as McDonogh No. 35 in a recycled former school for whites.
The next item on the activist agenda was a sorely needed vocational school. But where to find the money? The Rosenwald Fund had expressed an interest but only if the school board shared the cost. In 1930 the school board sold bonds for school construction and allocated $275,000 toward construction of a black trade school. The Rosenwald Fund pledged $135,000.
In response to concerns that a black trade school might threaten white jobs, a public statement was issued, assuring everyone “that the trades to be taught at the school would be exclusively those which are largely occupied by colored labor at this time.”
But it would still be another dozen years before Booker T. became a reality. After purchasing a parcel of land for the purpose, the school board announced that it did not have the money to match the Rosenwald offer. Instead, in 1934 they built on the site a wood frame elementary school for blacks for $21,000.
Although disheartened by this broken promise, black leaders continued to champion their goal through the 1930s. But it was federal, not local funds, which made Booker T. possible.
In the twilight of its existence, the New Deal’s Works Progress Administration funded the project to the tune of some quarter of a million dollars. Like other similar schools across the South, it was named for booker T. Washington, the famous black educator whose name is synonymous with what was called at the time “industrial education.”
But the opening of Booker T. gave the African-American community much more than a new high school. Accompanying the school (and attached to it) was a huge auditorium that became in effect the city’s black municipal auditorium. In the age of segregation, the roughly 2,000 capacity auditorium was indeed “separate but equal.” Soon after its opening, the facility hosted Paul Robeson in his first New Orleans appearance. The Louisiana Weekly reported that blacks turned out “en masse” to hear Robeson, although with “a fair sprinkling whites.” There were seven encores, and the audience was “almost shaking the roof with its thunderous applause.”
Other greats who graced the stage include Marian Anderson, Dizzie Gillespie, Mahalia Jackson and Louis Armstrong.
Booker T’s immense importance made it a natural for the National Register of Historic Places. The project was undertaken by the Division of Historic Preservation at the request of Booker T. teacher Mark Wuirk. The black leaders who pushed so hard for its construction would have been thrilled at the delegation of Booker T. graduates who attended the public hearing in Baton Rouge. In testimony after testimony folks spoke passionately about all Booker T. had given to them—from discipline to Bach, and everything in between. On Saturday, September 7, 2002, they celebrated the 60th anniversary of the school and the listing with a historic marker dedication at1201 S. Roman Street.
Written by PRC board member Donna Fricker for Preservation in Print, September 2002
Emmett Hardy (1903-1925) cornetist and machinist, lived at 237 Morgan St. from 1920 until 1923. He played in the Brownlee’s Orchestra, The New Orleans Rhythem Kings, and in small groups with violinist Oscar Marcour, the Boswell Sisters, and drummer Arthur “Monk” Hazel. During his short life he attained a legendary status as a musician, and is said to have been an influence on cornetist Bix Beiderbecke, as well as having an “informal” cutting contest with Louis Armstrong.
PRC places commemorative plaques on the houses where Jazz musicians lived.
|Louis Armstrong’s New Orleans by John McCusker|
Read our post on the 400 block of S. Rampart St., Armstrong’s stomping ground.
Adolph Paul Barbarin (1901-1969) , drummer, composer, and band leader lived at 1724 N. Robertson Street from 1924 until 1925. He played in bands with King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, J.J. Pirone, and “Fats” Pichone. He composed “Come Back Sweet Papa,” “Bourbon Street Parade” and “The Second Line.” Along with his brother Louis Barbarin and Louis Cottrell, re reorganized the Onward Brass Band in the 1960′s and led his own band in New Orleans for over three decades.
Read more about Barbarin on the Red Hot Jazz website.
PRC places commemorative plaques on the houses where Jazz musicians lived.
For nearly a decade, Jerome “PopAgee” Johnson has been trying to buy the entirety of Rampart’s 400 riverside block, envisioning a Jazz history destination that showcases African American impact on the development of the genre. It’s been a frustrating, complicated and expensive project, full of pitfalls and spiraling costs.
Although there hasn’t been very much of a payoff to this effort- Johnson finally acquired one of the block’s four important buildings in 2008 and hasn’t managed to renovate it as yet- let’s take a look at the history at stake on this block:
Frank Doroux’s Eagle Saloon (401-403 Rampart) Built in 1875, the building was originally maintained by the Odd Fellows Fraternal organization, which maintained its ballroom on the third floor. Downstairs in the saloon, future jazz greats such as Joseph “King” Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton, Sidney Bechet, Kid Ory, and Buddy Bolden got their starts. Louis Armstrong marveled as the man he referred to as “Papa Oliver” played in the building and he would later play with Oliver in the Creole Jazz Band.
The Iroquois Theater (413-415 Rampart)- Built in 1911 by George A. Thomas (who also ran the famous CrackerJack Drugstore across the street at 435 Rampart, a notorious Voodoo/Hoodoo shop catering to African Americans), it quickly became the most popular Vaudeville and movie theater catering to middle-class African Americans in the city. The bill changed constantly, but were always on the edge of going too far- risky and risqué, the double- entendre was always welcome at the Iroquois, though questions of what was too ‘smutty’ often arose. By the early 1920s, the balance of Vaudeville to motion pictures had tipped, with movies being shown each night until the theater closed in 1927. Louis Armstrong won a talent contest singing and dancing at the Iriquois Theater.
The Model Tailors/Morris Music (427 Rampart)- The owners of The Model Tailors, Karnofsky family, had a profound impact on Louis Armstrong’s development. Armstrong’s own world was rough-and-tumble, and he found the Karnofsky family, Lithuanian Jewish immigrants, to be warm, welcoming and stable and he worked for them and lived with them throughout much of his childhood. After Karnofsky’s closed the tailor shop, it became Morris Music, the first store catering to Jazz records and an African American clientèle.
Frank Doroux’s Little Gem Saloon (445-449 Rampart) (Also David Pailet’s Loan Office from 1926-1949 and Pete’s Blue Heaven Lounge in the 1950s)- this is where the jazz musicians and vaudevillians that played the local clubs would come to unwind and relax after their gigs. It became such a central hotspot that it became the place where Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club’s Jazz funerals and parades both began and ended.
It was in this block where a 12 year old Louis Armstrong fired a gun into the air on New Year’s Eve in 1912. He was arrested and brought to the Colored Waif’s Home where he began to take formal coronet lessons.
This year the Louisiana Landmarks Society deemed the entire block to be threatened and worthy of saving, placing it upon the list of New Orleans’ Nine Most Endangered Sites.
While several attempts have been made to renovate these buildings, so far no renovations have been completed.