On Thursday I took a day-trip to the Lakefront to search for documents related to the Phillis Wheatley Elementary School in the Orleans Parish School Board archives at Special Collections, UNO Library. I had low expectations and never dreamed we'd actually find THE drawings. I was told to look for Colbert's correspondence file, as sometimes architects tuck a sketch in with a letter.
It was a long shot and also happened to be an absolutely gorgeous day. I took nearly two hours to get to the library, as I kept stopping to take photos of modernist houses along the way. The first one to stop me in my tracks had tile which reminded me of Albert Ledner's National Maritime Union at Washington and Tchoupitoulas.* Later in the day I learned that this house at 4119 Vincennes was indeed designed by Ledner in 1954 for Irving Roth. photo
Next I photographed a series of houses on Lakeshore Drive, including Ledner's Moradian House (1978). photos I was almost at UNO, but then forced to turn off Lakeshore Drive due to road closure. This detour took me back through Lake Terrace on Oriole. More gems.
Finally turned on my blinders and made it over to the UNO Library and up to Special Collections on the 4th floor. Within minutes I was presented with binders of finding aids which led me rather quickly to absolute success.
We have been searching for drawings of the Wheatley School for years. Mr. Colbert lost his personal archive when his house flooded. Representatives of the Recovery School District told us the OPSB archives had flooded as well, so IF they had drawings, they were likely lost in the soup and tossed. Thank goodness they were wrong. About ten minutes after entering the UNO Library I was holding a set of nine presentation drawings of the Wheatley School from 1954. The drawings have been digitized and I will write more specifically about them as well Colbert's correspondence soon.
Upon leaving UNO, I called Keli Rylance at SEAA to share the good news. She gave me another address to seek out as well which led me to photograph one of the oldest homes in Lake Vista. photo
All in all, an absolutely brilliant day.
* Sadly the NMU tile was recently stuccoed in a renovation. photo