Our fourth installment of NOLA History Guy December features the Brothers of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans (BOSH)

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NOLA History Guy December – BOSH – Brothers of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans

When my CPA kiddo attended Brother Martin High School, it was time for another book. My original idea was for a book on the Gentilly neighborhood overall. Unfortunately, Brother Henry
Gaither, S.C., nailed it when said, “So much in the neighborhood drowned.” Fortunately, though, the school didn’t drown. While it sustained some damage on the first floor, the Gentilly Ridge protected the campus. It took some time to get approval from the Institute, the Brothers of the Sacred Heart. Once I received the green light, however, things rolled. Brother Ronald Talbot S.C., Provincial at the time, and Mr. Tommy Mitchell (Class of 1979), Assistant to the President and Director of Development, gave me access to a ton of archival material. Brother Ronald also graciously wrote the book’s foreword. Brothers of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans begins with origins of the BOSH ministry on the Gulf Coast and continues right up to the book’s publication.

St. Aloysius College, 1869

The Brothers of the Sacred Heart came to the Gulf Coast in 1847. The Institute (they’re an “Institute” rather than an “Order”) authorized a school for Mobile, Alabama. The BOSH moved West along the coast. They opened St. Stanislaus College in 1854. They deemed the trip from New Orleans to the Bay too dangerous when hostilities broke out. So, some of the faculty traveled to New Orleans, setting up shop at Annunciation Parish in Faubourg Marigny. They continued the education of the boys there.

Impressed with the quality of the teachers, Archbishop John Mary Odin, invited the Institute to establish a presence in the city. The Brothers purchased a building on Barracks and Chartres Streets, opening St. Aloysius Academy in 1869.

Officer’s Quarters

The Spanish army out of Havana maintained a garrison in New Orleans when Spain took control of New France. The officers lived in a house at the corner of Barracks and Chartres Streets in the French Quarter. The archdiocese sold that house to the Institute. To record the sale, a “plan book” was created. This was similar to an modern appraisal report. Since there was no color photography, architectural illustrators drew sketches of homes and buildings, along with diagrams of the property to be sold. I found the plan book for St. Aloysius in the Notarial Archives. Here’s the caption for the plan book:

St. Aloysius Academy. Architectural drawing depicting the building located at the corner of Barracks and Chartres Street in the French Quarter, at the time of its purchase by the Institute in 1869. Prior to photography, sales of property in New Orleans would be accompanied by a “plan book plan,” which usually included a description of the property, a map of the city block in which it was located, and an artist’s illustration of the building(s). The building was originally built as officers’ quarters for the Spanish garrison of the city. This is the only known illustration of the “first St. Aloysius.”

The Institute operated the school here until 1892. They moved to Esplanade and N. Rampart Streets that year, taking over the mansion formerly used by the Ursuline nuns for their school.

While the book is a wonderful trip down memory lane for members of the Brother Martin faith community, it’s also a great resource for folks interested in the history of the Third District and Gentilly.

The Book

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Brothers of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans by Edward J. Branley

From the back cover:

When New Orleanians ask “Where did you go to school?” they aren’t asking what university you attended but what high school. That tells a native a lot about you. For over 150 years, the Brothers of the Sacred Heart have educated the young men of New Orleans, giving them the opportunity to answer the question proudly by replying St. Stanislaus, St. Aloysius, Cor Jesu, or Brother Martin. Images of America: Brothers of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans showcases photographs, illustrations, and maps tracing the role of the institute in making New Orleans a vibrant and dynamic city, able to overcome even the worst of adversity. From their roots in the French Quarter, moving to Faubourg Marigny, and finally settling in Gentilly, the Brothers of the Sacred Heart continue to make a major contribution to metro New Orleans and Southeast Louisiana.

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