Podcast 42 – Martin Madness

Podcast 42 – Martin Madness

Brother Martin High School’s spring fundraising campaign is “Martin Madness”

martin madness

Martin Madness

Sharing some history, reflections, and thoughts on the influence of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans, from the Civil War to the present.

Here’s the PDF

Go support Brother Martin High!

Street names change over time

Street names change over time

It’s no surprise that street names in New Orleans change over time.

street names

Street tiles for General Pershing Street, renamed from Berlin Street. (Infrogmation photo)

The changing of street names.

City government changes street names for a number of reasons. Here are some examples, using the Robinson Atlas of 1883. Let’s start with the French Quarter.

Custom House to Iberville

street names

Custom House Street, 1883

The first street after Canal Street, inside the French Quarter, was originally named “Custom House.” It was later changed to Iberville Street. While we associate both LeMoyne brothers with the founding of New Orleans, Bienville had the greater role. Iberville’s contributions weren’t initially considered significant enough to earn a street.

Calle del Arsenal

street names

Calle Del Arsenal (Infrogmation photo)

The street was originally named for the Ursuline nuns. When the Spanish took over, streets received names in their language. Spanish troops were quartered on the lower side of the city, hence Barracks and Arsenal. Calle del Arsenal reverted to Ursuline after New Orleans was sold to the United States in 1803.

Hospital to Governor Nicholls

street names

Hospital Street, 1883

In the Lower Quarter, Hospital changed to Governor Nicholls, in honor of Francis T. Nicholls, governor of Louisiana from 1888-1892. The city changed the street after he passed in 1912.

Outside the French Quarter

Tulane Avenue from Common Street

street names

Common Street, from Claiborne to Broad, 1883

Common Street, above Elk Place, changed to Tulane Avenue in 1884, in honor of philanthropist and namesake of Tulane University, Paul Tulane. Several street name changes took place around this time. In addition to the creation of Tulane Avenue, Delord Street (which ended at Tivoli Circle) changed to Howard Avenue.

Adams to Lee to Toussaint

street names

segment of the Robinson Atlas of 1883 showing Lakeview

Before electric streetcars, transit to the West End and Spanish Fort recreational areas along Lake Pontchartrain was accomplished via steam trains. West End converted first, in 1898. The Spanish Fort train closed, but returned in 1911 as an electrified streetcar line. Both streetcar lines ran out to the lakefront on West End Boulevard. Spanish Fort turned on Adams Street (named after Presidents John and John Quincy Adams). With the increased significance of the street after 1911, the city renamed Adams for Robert E. Lee.

The city renamed the street a second time, in 2022. Perfectly normal course of action. So, is it revisionist? No. Would it be revisionist to say Robert E. Lee had a significant impact on the history of New Orleans? Yes, because, in his entire life, he only spent about thirty-six hours here.

Tivoli to Lee to Harmony

street names

Lee Circle, 1883

The roundabout on Naiads Street, now St. Charles Avenue, at Delord Street (now Howard Avenue). The city originally named it, “Tivoli Circle.” In terms of city ordinances, that name remained until 2022. From Wikipedia:

On July 31, 1877, “Lee Place” within “Tivoli Circle” was authorized by Ordinance A.S. 4064[4][5] Although the traffic circle is commonly referred to as “Lee Circle”, this ordinance makes clear that the “enclosure” containing the statue is to be known as “Lee Place”, while the traffic circle itself continues to be known as “Tivoli Circle”. This ordinance contains no reference to the name “Lee Circle”.

While the monument and park honored Lee, the roundabout never changed from Tivoli Circle. This demonstrates common usage colliding with legal names. So, since the Lee statue stood at the center of the park, the entire area became, “Lee Circle.”

In 2022, the City Council formally re-named Tivoli Circle, Harmony Circle.

street names

Harmony Circle via Google Maps

Was this “revisionist history?” No. Street names changed all the time. Would it be revisionist history to argue that Lee wasn’t on the losing side of the Southern Rebellion? Yes.

Bernardo de Galvez and Spanish West Florida

Bernardo de Galvez and Spanish West Florida

The fifth Spanish governor of New Orleans was Bernardo de Galvez.

Bernardo de Galvez, American Ally

Portrait of Bernardo Galvez, fifth Spanish governor of Louisiana. Artist Andres Molinary created this copy of an original portrait in 1917. The painting depicts Galvez as Viceroy of New Spain, in 1785. In 1777, as an army Colonel, Galvez became the governor of Louisiana. Since the French ceded what later became the “Louisiana Purchase” to Spain in 1762, the Spanish governors in New Orleans technically controlled the entire territory. Practically, that meant New Orleans and South Louisiana.

West Florida

Derby’s post about a section of a 1766 map of West Florida showing the Isle d’Orleans just below it caused a bit of confusion. Claims to Louisiana, going back to de la Salle, relate to land to the west of the Mississippi River. Various treaties not related to the Louisiana territory of New France established the boundaries to the east. The Southern boundary of the British colony of Georgia embroiled Spain and Britain in a number of disputes. The main issue was African enslavement. Indigenous tribes in Florida did not recognize the enslaved status of Africans and their descendants. The enslaved ran from plantations in Georgia and lived amongst the indigenous in Florida. This enraged the slavers of Georgia. These disputes extended west, beyond the Georgia colony. Debate over who owned the land from the Perdido River (near Pensacola) to the Mississippi River continued until well past the War of 1812.

American Revolution

Bernardo de Galvez

Galvez in 1777

Galvez immediately moved to secure the Gulf Coast for Spain as the Americans rebelled against Britain. Spain formally declared war on Britain in 1779. Galvez captured British positions from Baton Rouge to Pensacola. So, for all intents and purposes, “Florida” extended to the east bank of the Mississippi River. King Charles III appointed Galvez Viceroy of New Spain in 1783. Esteban Miro replaced him in New Orleans, becoming governor of both Louisiana and Florida. As far as Spain was concerned, they controlled the entire Gulf Coast by the end of the American Revolution.

American involvement

The new United States government desired access to the Gulf of Mexico. the Louisiana Purchase accomplished that, but West Florida remained problematic. From Wikipedia:

The the secret Treaty of San Ildefonso of 1800, Spain agreed to return Louisiana to France; however, the location of the boundary between Louisiana and West Florida was not explicitly specified. After France sold Louisiana to the United States in 1803, another boundary dispute erupted. The United States laid claim to the territory from the Perdido River to the Mississippi River, which the Americans believed had been a part of the old province of Louisiana when the French agreed to cede it to Spain in 1762. The Spanish insisted that they had administered that portion as the province of West Florida and that it was not part of the territory restored to France by Charles IV in 1802,[13][14] as France had never given West Florida to Spain, among a list of other reasons.

So, West Florida remained disputed until 1821, when Spain ceded all of the Florida territory, including West Florida, to the United States. That settled the issue, and the state boundaries of Louisiana were formally adjusted to include the “Florida Parishes” north of Lake Pontchartrain.

Galvez and New Orleans

bernardo de galvez

Equestrian statue of Galvez, Spanish Plaza New Orleas. Photo by Demcy Dias.

Bernardo didn’t waste time in New Orleans with respect to forging ties with the Creole-French population. Also from Wikipedia:

In November 1777, Gálvez married Marie Félicité de Saint-Maxent d’Estrehan, the Creole daughter of the French-born Gilbert Antoine de Saint-Maxent and the Creole Elizabeth La Roche, and young widow of Jean Baptiste Honoré d’Estrehan, the son of a high ranking French colonial official. This marriage to the daughter of a Frenchman[19][20] won Gálvez the favor of the local Creole population. They had three children, Miguel, Matilde, and Guadalupe.

So, he married into the La Roche and d’Estrehan families. His victories against the British immortalized him along the Gulf Coast. New Orleans named a street for him, as well as his wife (Felicity Street). Galveston was named in his honor, and cities from there to Mobile along the Gulf Coast included him in their Spanish memorials.

New Orleans Public Belt RR at Ursuline Street #TrainThursday

New Orleans Public Belt RR at Ursuline Street #TrainThursday

The New Orleans Public Belt runs along the riverfront.

public belt

Streetcars and trains along the Riverfront

Infrogmation photo (2013) of three New Orleans Public Belt (NOPB) locomotives passing the Ursuline Street station for the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (NORTA). From right to left: NOPB 3001, an EMD GP40, NOPB 3003, a GP40-2, and NOPB 2008, a Motive Power Industries (MPI) 1500D. All three locomotives bear the red NOPB livery used at that time.

New Orleans Public Belt

The City of New Orleans created the NOPB in 1908. From the railroad’s Wikipedia entry:

The impetus for the NOPB came at the start of the 20th century era when multiple railroads terminating locally created both congestion at the Port of New Orleans and safety problems on city streets. The railroad began operation in 1908 with the intention of giving the major railroads “uniform and impartial” access to the port.

So, the NOPB regularly operates along the riverfront. Additionally, the NOPB “owns” the Huey P. Long bridge, which connects about one-third of the nation’s east-west railroad traffic. From the Industrial Canal to Jefferson, Louisiana, NOPB horns can be heard.


public belt

Portion of the route map for NORTA’s UPT-Riverfront line.

While there are no streetcars in this photo, the Ursuline Station is a stop on the NORTA UPT-Riverfront line, Route 49. It’s the second-to-last stop as the outbound streetcars approach the French Market terminal. Hopping off the Von Dullen and 400-series arch roofs at Ursuline puts the rider at Latrobe Park. This snippet of NORTA’s map for Route 49 shows the various railroad tracks in this part of the port. While the first incarnation of the Riverfront line operated on “standard gauge” tracks, the line switched to “streetcar gauge” in 1997.

Red to Blue

public belt

NOPB locos in blue livery passing Jackson Square, February 2023. Mussi Katz photo.

NOPB adopted a blue livery for their locomotive fleet in 2019. The blue paint scheme distinguishes them from the streetcars on Route 49. The locomotives use horns, where the streetcar operators clang the traditional trolley bell.

NOLA History Guy December (4) – Brothers of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans

NOLA History Guy December (4) – Brothers of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans

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

nola history guy december

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

nola history guy december

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.

Available at local bookstores, Walgreens stores, other local shops, Bookshop, and other online outlets. Give history! Support NOLA History Guy December.

Brulatour Courtyard by A. B. Suhor #watercolorwednesday

Brulatour Courtyard by A. B. Suhor #watercolorwednesday

The well-known Brulatour Courtyard stands at 520 Royal Street. #watercolorwednesday

Brulatour Courtyard by A. B. Suhor

Brulatour Courtyard

The main courtyard of the Seignouret-Brulatour Mansion, 520 Royal Street in the Vieux Carré. Many New Orleanians remember the mansion as the offices and studios of WDSU-TV. The station used photos of the courtyard in its “station ID” spots for decades. The artist is Anthony B. “Ben” Suhor, longtime local high school teacher. From WDSU’s history of the mansion:

Although the courtyard bore the name of its second owner, Pierre Brulatour, the splendid mansion was built in 1816 by Francois Seignouret, a native of Bordeaux, France. Seignouret came to New Orleans just before the Battle of New Orleans and fought in the battle on the fields of Chalmette. His dream was to establish a winery. He replaced the century-old wines imported by the late Spanish masters considered the “Poison of Catalogne” with the mellowed sweetness of Bordeaux wines.

So, Mr. Suhor captured the courtyard as it was in 1952. It’s undergone a number of transformations.

Seignouret to Brulatour to Television

M. Seignouret built the house in 1816, after the Battle of New Orleans and the end of the War of 1812. When Francois passed, his brother Emile, inherited it. Emile sold the mansion to Pierre Brulatour. Both owners were wine merchants. Many debutante balls took place in the mansion’s upstairs ballroom. So, it was well-known long before television.

Carriages with visitors entered the main gate on Royal Street. The carriage circled the courtyard fountain, dropped off their passengers, and exited.

Businessman and civic leader Edgar Stern purchased the mansion in 1949. Stern acquired WDSU radio in 1947. He formed WDSU-TV in 1949. Stern moved the offices and studios into the mansion and the building next door. The station was an outstanding steward of the mansion. They sold it to THNOC in 1998, when WDSU moved to a larger, more modern studio on Howard Avenue.

The artist

Mr. Anthony B. Suhor taught at local high schools for 52 years. He taught at Redemptorist, Redeemer, and Rummel high schools. I was privileged to be one of Benny’s colleagues at Redeemer, in the early 1980s.