Archbishop’s Palace 1875

The Archbishop’s Palace was original the Ursuline Convent

archbishop's palace 1875

Archbishop’s Palace

Illustration of “The Archbishop’s Palace,” by J. Wells Champney, in The Great South: A Record of Journeys… by Edward King. The illustration shows what New Orleanians have come to call, “The Old Ursuline Convent.” The Ursulines used the buildings as their residence from 1753 to 1824. In 1825, the Order moved down to the Ninth Ward. They built a new convent on the river, where the Industrial Canal now stands.

So, from 1825 until 1899, the convent buildings served as the residence of the Archbishop of New Orleans. While the archbishops moved to other residences, the archdiocese retained the Old Ursuline Convent. The buildings suffered a great deal of damage from neglect. The Archdiocese embarked upon a major renovation/restoration program in the 1970s, and later opened the buildings as a museum.

The second convent

The city built this complex as a replacement for the first Ursuline convent. To be precise, the nuns originally resided in Bienville’s home, prior to the construction of the first convent. By 1745, the wood-frame convent decayed. The building required replacement. The nuns moved into the second convent in 1753. The building survived the devastating fires of 1788 and 1794. The Ursulines required more space by 1824. So, they signed over the convent to the archdiocese and moved downriver.

The third convent

archbishop's palace 1875

Champney also illustrated the third convent complex for King’s book. King contends that the nuns moved down to the Ninth Ward because of a lucrative real estate market. That’s not what happened, though. The Ursuline girls’ school, now Ursuline Academy, needed more space. The nuns, with financial support from both church and city, built the third convent. They signed over the second complex to the archbishop. Bishop Antoine Blanc was the first to reside at the convent. Blanc later became the first Archbishop, when the Diocese of New Orleans was restructured as an archdiocese.

Uptown convent

The Ursulines moved from the Ninth Ward to State Street, Uptown, in 1912. It was clear by then that the site of the third convent was where the state wanted to build the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal (the Industrial Canal). The nuns sold out, and the state began the canal project in 1914.



Brother Martin State Championship 1971

Brother Martin State Championship 1971

The Brother Martin State Championship football game comes 51 years and a day later.

brother martin state championship post game 10-December-1971

Brother Brice, SC, Coach Bobby Conlin, and an unidentified news reporter stand by as the 1971 Brother Martin High School Football Team accept the state championship trophy, 10-December-1971

Brother Martin State Championship

There’s lots of hype out there on the current Crusader football team, in the run-up to tonight’s championship game in Da Dome. While the team played in the 1989 state championship, they lost that year. So, the one and only football state championship in the school’s history was 51 years and one day ago. Brother Martin defeated neighborhood rival St. Augustine, 23-0, on 10-December-1971. The teams met at Tad Gormley Stadium that evening. Here’s Brother Neal’s summary of the game:

25,000 filled the horseshoe in City Park for the rematch with the Big Purple. The game wasn’t as close as the regular season finale. Senior end Steve Mallerich set the tone on the first series by sacking QB Keith Pete. Later in the period, Farnet picked off a Pete aerial to set up a [Steve] Treuting TD plunge for a 7-0 lead. [Darryl] Brue kicked a 32-yard field goal on the last play of the half. The second half belonged to the Crimson and Gold as well.
Blindsided by [Ken] Bordelon as he threw, Pete saw another pass picked off, this time by Brue. Seven plays later Treuting scored again for a 17-0 lead. Junior Marc Robert recovered a fumble at the Knight 11 which set up a [Joe] Mattingly four-yard run to complete the eighth shutout of the season, 23-0.

While most of the champion starters graduated in 1972, Juniors Joe Mattingly, Darryl Brue, and Marc Robert returned, leading the 1972 team to a Catholic League district championship.


brother martin state championship football coaches 1971

Head Football Coach Bobby Conlin (center), Dan Conlin, (left), and Emile “Chubby” Marks, 1971.

Head Coach Bobby Conlin, his brother Dan, and Emile “Chubby” Marks shepherded the team through the regular season and playoffs. The offense ran a Bama-style wishbone, and Coach Marks’ defense was simply a brick wall. If you’re ever wondering why the school’s gym is named after the coach who won the school’s only football state championship, it’s because he didn’t start out as the football coach. When Cor Jesu started its football program in 1965, Principal Brother Roland, SC, hired Andy Bourgeois (SA 1956) as the head coach. Bourgeois played on the LSU team that won the national championship in 1958. He was one of the “Chinese Bandits,” immortalized by the Golden Band from Tiger Land. Brother Roland named Bobby Conlin as the Kingsmen’s first basketball coach that year.

When Cor Jesu and St. Aloysius merged in the fall of 1969, Bourgeois moved on. Bobby Conlin moved from head basketball coach and assistant football coach to head football coach. Andy Russo, basketball coach at St. Aloysius, moved to Elysian Fields.

Crusader Band

brother martin state championship football game 1971 - crusader band halftime performance

Brother Martin Crusader Band performs at halftime of the state championship football game, 10-December-1971.

Fall of 1971 was the days of the Naval Junior Officer’s Training Corps (NJROTC) band. While Cor Jesu and St. Aloysius both had classic, corps-style uniforms for their respective bands, Brother Mark, SC, opted for the Navy blues for BMHS. NJROTC was a required class for 10-12 grades. So, the band upperclassmen all had the uniform already. It was easy to outfit the freshmen. At halftime for the state game in 1971, Crusader Band took the field in the double-breasted blue coats, trousers, and white combination caps of NJROTC cadets. While the band had a crisp, disciplined presence, they were stiff compared to the high-stepping Purple Knights of the Marching 100.

Then the drum major blew the whistle to start the Crusader Band program. The band opened with a stutter-step march, the kind of thing you’d expect from the Marching 100 or the Human Jukebox. In Navy uniforms. Even eighth-grade me, sitting up there with my gold BMHS sweatshirt and spirit ribbons, was stunned. Now, the band were good musicians, but this was so totally different. Brother Virgil, SC, had us all talking more about the band than the team for a while. The reception from the Purple Knights was mixed. They were both laughing and flattered, knowing that, even though they lost the game, they won halftime.

Dan’s Pier 600 #JazzTuesday

Dan’s Pier 600 #JazzTuesday

Dan’s Pier 600 often featured Al Hirt

pier 600

Pier 600 on Bourbon Street

Photo of Dan’s Pier 600 club, ca. 1955. Dan Levy, Sr., opened Pier 600 in the early 1950s. While the club stood at 501 Bourbon, corner St. Louis, it gets its name from Dan Levy’s restaurant at 600 Bourbon. Levy enjoyed success with Dan’s International Settlement, at 600 Bourbon, corner Toulouse.

pier 600

Al Hirt (right), with guests, at Dan’s Pier 600 Jazz Club, 1950s.

Dan’s Pier 600 hosted a number of jazz musicians over the years. Before opening his own club, Al Hirt played Pier 600 regularly. He recorded Volume 3 of his “Swingin’ Dixie” series at the club. You can see Jumbo’s photo on the St. Louis Street side of the club. He’s wearing a crown, and the caption says, “Al Hirt – He’s the King.” Pete Fountain also played at Pier 600 in the early days of his career, both with Hirt and also on his own.

Levy’s son, Dan Jr., joined his father in the business upon his return to the city from college in 1956. Dan Jr. In addition to managing Pier 600, he managed The Al Hirt Club, The Old Absinthe Bar and Nobody Likes a Smart Ass comedy club.

Location Confusion

Dan’s International Settlement served Chinese food at 600 Bourbon. While there was a robust Chinese community in New Orleans dating back to the 19th Century, Dan’s is regarded as the first commercial Chinese restaurant in town. Levy opened the restaurant in 1946, partnering with Frank Gee. The location is now Tropical Isle.

A number of articles over the years  The street lamp in this photo of Pier 600 clearly says it’s at the corner of St. Louis and Bourbon Streets. That’s 501 Bourbon. 600 Bourbon is at the corner of Toulouse and Bourbon. So, the two establishments are not just one building, re-branded over the years. Pier 600 was a shout-out to the existing restaurant. While the restaurant’s building looks much like it did in the 1950s, the Pier 600 building underwent significant renovations.

Photo is courtesy the New Orleans Jazz Museum collection. Thanks also to Dominic Massa, for his 2014 obit of Dan Jr., when he was at WWL-TV.

Canal Street 1890 #MBMonday

Canal Street 1890, was a transitional period for the city’s main street.

Canal Street, 1890

View of Canal Street, March 15, 1890, Wilson S. Howell photo courtesy NOPL

Canal Street 1890

Lots in transition in this Canal Street, 1890 photograph. The photographer is William S. Howell. He shot it on March 25, 1890, at 3:45 PM. There’s lots to break down here, but let’s focus on Maison Blanche and its history. Howell stands at Canal Street and Exchange Alley, He’s looking up Canal: the upper half of the 600 block, then the Touro Buildings in the 700. The 800 block is bunched together, with the cupola of the Mercier Building in the 900 block visible in the background. In the neutral ground  mule-drawn streetcar circles the Clay Monument counterclockwise. Two men stand in the foreground, possibly waiting for a streetcar.

A. Shwartz and Son

Abraham Shwartz’s dry goods store reached its peak by 1890. Shwartz moved into the corner of the Touro Buildings at Canal and Royal Streets. He ran the store with his firstborn. Youngest son Simon served as the company’s buyer and New York representative. While he lived in NYC, he regularly traveled between the two cities. Simon learned a great deal about the retail business living in New York. He picked up on modern trends. While his father listened, A. Shwartz and Son was slow to change. Simon wasn’t ready to break from the family in 1890.

The Touro Buildings

The Howell photograph presents an interesting perspective on the 701 block. As you can see, the entire block still stands four stories high. The original design of the townhouse-style buildings remains intact from the 1840s. The far corner of the block, Canal at Bourbon, was the second site of Christ Episcopal Church. Touro bought out the church, and the chapter moved to the 901 Canal, at Dauphine. That church no longer stands in this photograph. The building with the high cupola in the background replaced the third Christ Church, in 1885. So, by this photograph, Abraham Shwartz, Bernard Fellman, and B. Cohn operated from the Touro Buildings. Leon Fellman split with his brother in 1888. He opened Leon Fellman and Company in the 901 block in 1888.


Transit in transition! Well, not quite yet. The photo shows a “bobtail” streetcar, in front of Henry Clay’s statue. The base of the monument filled the three-way intersection (St. Charles Street on the left, Royal and the right, and Canal running river to lake). It formed a roundabout for the streetcars. That would change in five years, as electric streetcars took over.

Maison Blanche

Canal Street, 1890

Ad for Maison Blanche in The Daily Picayune, 22-September-1907

Simon Shwartz’s department store doesn’t come to Canal Street for another seven years, but the Mercier Building stands ready for it. Here’s an ad for MB in The Daily Picayune from September, 22, 1907. This was the last Fall/Christmas for the store in the Mercier Building.

The Book

Mr. Bingle 1952

Maison Blanche Department Stores, by Edward J. Branley

If you like the story of Maison Blanche, you’ll want to get my book, Maison Blanche Department Stores, available at all the usual suspects.

Tiger Band Always Wins

Tiger Band Always Wins

Tiger Band wins the day every LSU football game.

tiger band always wins

The Golden Band From Tiger Land take the field for a game in the late 1960s.

Tiger Band Always Wins

tiger band always wins

GBFTL at the 2008 National Championship Game in the Superdome

That’s right. No matter what the score after the final whistle, The Golden Band From Tiger Land (GBFTL) is always the big winner. While GBFTL’s traditions and are best experienced in Tiger Stadium, their house, those attending the LSU-Florida State game tonight in the Caesar’s Superdome will still see why they’re such a good show band.


tiger band always wins

Andrew D. Lytle photo of the LSU “Cadet Band,” ca. 1900.

The GBFTL officially began as a “Cadet Band” in 1893. Certainly the Seminary of Learning of the State of Louisiana (the school’s name from 1853–1861) had martial music, bugles and drums, particularly under the leadership of William Tecumseh Sherman in 1860. By the 1890s, brass bands in the style of the USMC’s band, led by Sergeant Major John Philip Sousa grew in popularity. GBFTL fit this mold.

Then came Jazz. The LSU Tigers adopted Nick LaRocca’s “Tiger Rag” in 1926. Combined with patronage from then-Governor Huey P. Long, LSU, its football program, and GBFTL grew in stature.

The Four Notes

tiger band always wins

portion of the GBFTL website

The “Four Notes” are the opening of “Tiger Rag.” GBFTL plays a number of variants of the tune, but the one most notable is the “Stadium Salute.” The band takes the field, the Drum Major blows the whistle, the drums roll off, and the band plays those notes. It’s never quite the same as Tiger Stadium, but you’ll see the pre-game salute in Da Dome.

Serious Talent

tiger band always wins

LSU Cadet Band, 1910s

GBFTL are the most visible component of the university’s school of music. The band consists of students from across campus, not merely music majors. When my son graduated with an Accountancy degree from the Ourso School of Business. He could have finished in three years, but for a scheduling conflict. There was a computer class required for accounting majors that was a prerequisite for taking their first audit class. That class was scheduled for the same time as GBFTL practice. No way was he giving up Tiger Band for that! So, he took the computer class in the spring, and graduated the following December. Four years of band. It’s important.

So, give a shout out to GBFTL tonight. Tiger Band always wins!


NASA T-38s

NASA T-38s

NASA T-38s enable astronaut pilots to keep their qualifications.

nasa t-38s

one of NASA’s T-38 Talons used by the astronauts. (courtesy NASA)


NASA T-38s and Artemis!

nasa t-38s

NASA T-38s, flown by astronauts, buzz Artemis I on Pad 39B (courtesy NASA)

We’re approaching liftoff for Artemis I on Tuesday. The Artemis program is NASA’s plan to return to the moon. Artemis I launches unmanned, with three mannequins in the Orion spacecraft.

It’s quite exciting, so naturally, NASA astronauts buzzed Pad 39B in their T-38 jets. This photo gave me All The Feels: Going back to the moon, much less any launch from Cape Canaveral. Memories of my son calling from Port Canaveral when he was a submarine officer and they would pop up in Florida. The Orion’s similarity to the Apollo spacecraft of my childhood.

And the T-38s. it’s more than just NASA’s use of the USAF’s jet trainer aircraft. That makes perfect sense. Seeing these jets brings me back to when the Demostration Teams, the USAF Thunderbirds and the Navy’s Blue Angels toured using smaller jets.

Phantoms to Trainers

nasa t-38s

Blue Angels flying the A-4F Skyhawk (courtesy US Navy)

nasa t-38s

Drawing of a T-38 Talon flown by the USAF Thunderbirds (courtesy USAF)

Both the Thunderbirds and the Blue Angels switched to the F-4 Phantom II in 1969. (The Thunderbirds previously flew the F-105 Thunderchief and the Navy the F11F-1 Tiger.) The Phantom was the only plane flown by both teams. Those planes were magnificient. The teams demonstrated the Air Combat Maneuvers they implemented in Southeast Asia and Europe.

nasa t-38s

Thunderbirds flying Talons (courtesy USAF)

Then came the Energy/Oil Crisis of the mid-1970s. With the Saudis squeezing the US crude oil supply, gasoline prices at the pump skyrocketed. The amount of fuel burned by the Phantoms became both public relations and budget problems. So, in 1974, the teams transitioned to smaller jets. The five T-38 Talons of the Thunderbirds consumed as much jet fuel as a single Phantom. Those agile trainers put on an excellent show.

The Blue Angels chose the A-4F Skyhawk to replace their Phantoms. The Skyhawk (the jet flown by Vietnam-era pilots such as the late Senator John McCain) was a carrier-based, single-seat fighter/bomber that supported the air superiority missions of the Phantom. Like the Talons, the Skyhawks consumed a fraction of the gas needed to operate the Phantoms.


nasa t-38s

USAF Thunderbirds flying F-16 Fighting Falcons (courtesy USAF)

After a horrific accident in 1982, where four Talons and their pilots were lost, the Thunderbirds resumed touring, flying the F-16 Flying Falcon.

nasa t-38s

US Navy Blue Angels flying the F/A-18 Hornet (courtesy US Navy)

The Blue Angels continued with the Skyhawk until 1986. They transitioned to the F/A-18 Hornet in 1986. So, both teams continue to use these aircraft models. While the teams upgrade to the latest version of each airframe, they’ve stuck with the Falcon and Hornet.

To the Moon

So, it makes perfect sense for NASA to use jets that aren’t gas hogs. They’re not “Maverick” and his team, flying F-18s on secret missions (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Seeing those Talons buzz Artemis I gives me the Apollo-to-Star Trek feels of the early 1970s.