Today in New Orleans History

April 8

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Before De La Salle High School
April 8, 1950

De La Sallle High School, operated by the Christian Brothers, opened the doors to 76 Catholic freshman boys in 1949 in an old house on Pitt Street.  The brothers added a new class level each year, operating in several other old structures on the property spanning the 5300 block of St. Charles Avenue, between Valmont and Leontine streets, which the Archdiocese of New Orleans had purchased in April 1949 for $312,000. On Sunday, February 17, 1952 at 2 p.m., Archbishop Rummel officiated the formal dedication of the current De La Salle high school building which had been constructed at a cost of $375,000 to accommodate 750 students.  It  took the place of some very historic  buildings which were also used by schools.  They were New Orleans University and Gilbert Academy.

TodayInNewOrleansHistory/NewOrleansUniversityAndGouldPresidentsHome.jpg"In 1869, with the support of the Missionary Association of the Congregational Church (now the United Church of Christ) and the Freedman’s Aid Society of the United Methodist Church, Straight University and Union Normal School were founded. Later, they were renamed Straight College and New Orleans University, respectively.

Gilbert Academy, a secondary school, was a unit of New Orleans University. Straight College operated a law department from 1874 to 1886. New Orleans University in 1889 opened a medical department, including a school of pharmacy and a school of nursing. The medical department was named Flint Medical College and the affiliated hospital was named the Sarah Goodridge Hospital and Nurse Training School. The medical college was discontinued in 1911, but the hospital, including the nursing school, was continued under the name Flint Goodridge Hospital.

In 1930, New Orleans University and Straight College merged to form Dillard University. The trustees of the new university called for the implementation of a coeducational, interracial school, serving a predominantly African American student body adhering to Christian principles and values. The university was named in honor of James Hardy Dillard, a distinguished academician dedicated to educating African Americans". (Text and photo from Dillard University).

The lovely Greek Revival home was built by W. T. Walden in 1837 in what was then the town of Rickerville (Leontine and Octavia streets were named for Mr. Rickerville's daughters).  In 1884, Mary Bayle sold the home to the Methodist Episcopal Church.  Around 1926, Dr. O. E. Kriege, a methodist minister and treasurer of Gilbert Academy,  and his wife occupied the home and lived there until its demise.  Mrs. Kriege hosted Women's Temperance Union meetings there.

The Christian Brothers first occupied the property on July 1, 1949. In December 1949, the archdiocese offered to give the home to any individual or organization which would move, restore it, and open it for public use.  Despite public and private support the 112 year-old home was demolished in 1950.  It had once sat amid a three acre sugar planation and was often referred to as the "Gould Plantation home".  It was also known as the "President's Mansion" (used by the president of New Orleans University) and many New Orleanians called it "Gilbert Academy".   

New Orleans University and the old home can be seen on the right.  The univesity building was constructed in 1887 at a cost of $40,000.  The huge main building contained 80 classrooms with metal door plaques recognizing donations from churches across the U.S. who had supported the school.  It was demolished during 1930s after the university merged with Straight College to form Dillard University.  Gilbert Academy closed in 1948.

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Shushan Airport Milneburg Joys

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WTIX (690) Music Survey- April 8, 1972 (right).  From Bob Walker.

Jake Sciambra, local polititian, also had two restaurants with bars --- one at 3201 Tulane Avenue, the other 452 South Jefferson Davis Parkway, which was also he and his wife, Lena Gallo's, residence.   After running this place for some 30 years, Jake passed away on April 8, 1970 at age 77.  He was a native Contessa Entallina, Sicily and is buried in Greenwood Cemetery.

Photo of Interstate 10 at Orleans Avenue on-ramp eastbound, April 8, 1968. [Photography by Joseph C. Davi]

Photo of Interstate 10 at Esplanade off-ramp, April 8, 1968. [Photography by Joseph C. Davi]

The Robert E. Smith Branch of the New Orleans Public Library opened on April 8, 1956.

Jazz trumpeter and multi-instrumentalist George Dixon was born in New Orleans on April 8, 1909. He died in Chicago on August 1, 1994.

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Abreviations used on this site: NOPL (New Orleans Public Library), LOC (Library of Congress), LDL (Lousiana Digital Library), HNOC (Historic New Orleans Collection), WIKI (Wikipedia).

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