E. A. Christy

Central City: A Melioristica Stroll

by James on August 26, 2013

The Central City neighborhood, as the name implies, lies right smack in the middle of the city.  Its a few blocks from Downtown, Uptown, Garden District, Mid City…you name it.  You can get to most places in a matter of minutes.  Despite it’s great location, it’s been a spot for many to avoid for the better part of a century.  The neighborhood has a rich cultural history.  Many Irish, German, Italian and black businesses thrived there.  During it’s heyday, Dryades Street (later renamed Oretha Castle Haley for a local civil rights activist) boasted over 200 businesses and was the largest concentration of black business in the city.

Ironically, integration actually hurt the neighborhood.  By the mid 1960′s the area was in decline.  By the 1980′s most businesses were boarded up and left abandoned.  In another twist of irony, the neighborhood was spared from flooding or damage during Katrina.  In ’06 and ’07 Central City boasted the highest crime and murder rates in the city, with a murder rate of 316 per 100,000.  Those numbers make the Mexican mafia look tame.  But all that is drastically changing…like much of the rest of New Orleans, the artists and young people are taking notice of the prime (and cheap) real estate and beautiful buildings.  There are some truly great projects planned for the street.

That being said, its still very much a work in progress.  There is a lot of work to be done, but it’s getting better everyday, as you’ll see below.  This is what’s so great about New Orleans…even the worst neighborhoods (and I mean bad) have insane potential.  A little TLC and were talking the next big hot thing.  Think Freret Street.  Just more proof that New Orleans is on the up.  Enjoy the tour.

Church Alley Coffee House…a new favorite place.  Seriously, go get a coffee there.

Future home of Jack & Jake’s.  So excited to see old school buildings like this being re-purposed.  Can’t wait to see the final result.

These next four photos are what the school looked like back in 2010.

The former Myrtle Banks School, designed by E.A. Christy and built in 1910.  The roof and much of the third and second floors burned in 2008.

The school actually closed before Katrina in 2001.

See more pics after the 2008 fire here.

So much potential.

What is a walking tour in New Orleans without a wine cooler?

Shotgun charm in Central City.

A central city backyard…

Liz Williams, president and director of the Southern Food & Beverage Museum, talks about the future of the building.

Obviously Central City still has a ways to go, but it has insane potential.

Cafe Reconcile.

The Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center.  “Something for and against everyone!”  If you like movies with subtitles, this is your place.

Cafe Borrega…one of the coolest restaurants I’ve been in.  I didn’t have time to eat, but I’ll be back.  If the food is half as good as the decor then it’s a winner.  I don’t know how I’ve never heard of this place before.

So cool.

So long Central City…here’s to making a comeback!

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Abandoned: NOCCA

by James on November 28, 2012

This is a very welcome sight… the building you see above is almost unrecognizable, and this is a good thing.  It’s the old NOCCA (New Orleans Center for Creative Arts) campus, and it’s been rotting away since 2000, when the school moved campuses to it’s new location on the riverfront.  Before that it was the LaSalle Elementary, designed by William Joseph Hardee and completed in 1901 at the cost of $30,000.  It was later added on to by the famed architect E.A. Christy.  NOCCA occupied the building from 1973 to 2000.  Some famous students include Harry Connick, Jr., Wnyton and Bradford Marsalis, and Wendell Pierce.  I really can’t find much more info.

I explored this place back in 2010, and while it was in relatively good condition, I feared that if something was not done soon the water damage might be too much to overcome.  I’m just glad something is finally being done.  There are way too many of these beauties just rotting away around the city.  I hope the success of this building is the catalyst for the rest of them.  Read a recent article about it on nola.com here.

I’m hoping that these pictures will bring back many good memories…I posted similar pictures of the abandoned Lakeview School and got a ton of great comments and information from people that had gone to school there.  I hope to get the same response here!  Please leave any comments or memories in the comments section below!

[Please note: If you can't already tell, my only purpose in getting into these old buildings is to photograph what's left behind.  I never break into any building- if it's locked up, it's locked up..I move on my way.  In this particular case there were huge windows on the first floor that were wide open (back in 2010).  I never take or leave anything behind.  It's about respect.]

So long, NOCCA!  Please leave some comments below!


Abandoned: Lakeview School

by James on September 20, 2012

 Unfortunately, I could not find any information on this school other than it was designed by E.A. Christy and built in 1915.   I know it was abandoned before Katrina but again I’m not real sure on the exact year.  In trying to find out info on this beauty I did manage to become very interested in the life of E.A. Christy.  He was born in the city in 1880 and was educated in the public schools (my, how things have changed).  He was one of the New Orleans’ “most gifted and prominent men”.  He became the Chief Architect in New Orleans and later the architect for the Orleans Parish School Board.  He was “one of the best liked men in New Orleans public life” and “so much of the unquestioned beauty of the Crescent City may be attributed to him.”

I soon realized that just about all of the abandoned schools and about half of the abandoned buildings I’ve been in were designed by him.  What an absolute shame his legacy is just rotting away.  It’s now my goal to research this man and photograph what’s left of his contribution to this city.  More to come on that.

This old school would make the perfect artist’s studios, or condos, or anything.  The building, despite being flooded during Katrina, it still in relatively great shape.  It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to have this thing up and running.

Another question- What happened to all this federal money that was supposed to fix up all these schools?  Please leave any info, knowledge, or other questions you might have in the comment below!  I’d love to know more!

[Please note: If you can't already tell, my only purpose in getting into these old buildings is to photograph what's left behind.  I never break into any building- if it's locked up, it's locked up..I move on my way.  In this particular case there was a door cracked and it swung wide open.  I never take or leave anything behind.  It's about respect.]

UPDATE 7.26.13
 It looks like someone bought the property and has plans to fix it up!  Very exciting, check out more here.  Let me know if you have any more info!