The Recovery School District is in the process of finalizing the School Facilities Master Plan for Orleans Parish (http://SFMPOP.org). After reviewing the Building Summaries, it is apparent that the plan may effectively erase the mid-century modern school facilities from the map.* In A Guide to the Architecture of New Orleans 1699-1959 Samuel Wilson, Jr. cites twenty-five of the thirty public schools which were built in the 1950s. Of these, ten have been demolished or are slated for demolition.** Of the remaining fifteen mid-century modern schools, fourteen were assessed as “complete replacement.” While many of these buildings were clearly damaged by Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent inundation, some are merely victims of neglect. The Recovery School District is indeed in the process of recovering. However, that is not an excuse for the wholesale demolition of mid-century modern public school architecture from the city of New Orleans. These schools were designed with respect to the city’s environment and the structures are ripe for sustainable rehabilitation and reuse.
The use of the phrase "complete replacement" in the SFMPOP assessments is potentially misleading. Is the RSD actually considering replacing all of these facilities?
Map of schools listed in Samuel Wilson’s A Guide to the Architecture of New Orleans 1699-1959
Red pins represent schools that have been demolished or are threatened by “complete replacement.” Schools represented by green pins are safe. They are private schools. Of note, Brother Martin High School in Gentilly managed to renovate and re-open by February 2006. Google map by Francine Stock.
* "RSD Plans 47 School Demolitions," City Business, February 25, 2008. There are some older historic school buildings which are also threatened, including Arthur Ashe Elementary School (1907, E.A. Christy, architect). See: Squandered Heritage and Think New Orleans. Shaw Elementary (1939, E.A. Christy, architect) is also among the threatened.
** Demolished: Hynes, White, Kohn, Henderson. Replaced in mid-1980’s: McDonogh 40 (Jordan), Moton. To be demolished: Abrams, Jefferson Davis, Hardin, Edwards. Alfred Lawless High School (Charles Colbert, 1960) is also slated for demolition, but is not listed in Wilson’s Guide, as it was built after 1959. For Recovery School District Press Release see: http://www.louisianaschools.net/lde/comm/pressrelease.aspx?PR=968