Julia Street with Poydras the Parrot

THE PURSUIT TO ANSWER ETERNAL QUESTIONS

Aerial view of LaGarde General Hospital

Photograph COurtesy THE HISTORIC NEW ORLEANS COLLECTION

Dear Julia,
My birth certificate reads “Lakeshore Hospital, New Orleans, LA.”

I was born in 1947. The attending physician was Dr. Lewis H. Levy.

What can you tell me about this hospital? Where was it located? When was it established? Who owned or operated the hospital? What was the hospital’s mission? How long was it in existence? What was its final end?

Cynthia A. Seals
New Orleans


After World War II, part of what was known as the  LaGarde hospital complex was converted to civilian use. On June 1, 1946, the New Orleans Medical Foundation, a group comprised of 125 former military physicians, announced the formal opening of the new Lakeshore Hospital. Located at Lakeshore Drive and West End Boulevard, the facility admitted nine patients on its opening day, and by the end of the year, had treated 2,300 patients.  Obstetrical services were added on Oct. 1, 1946 and the hospital’s first annual report proudly noted that 175 babies had been delivered at Lakeshore.  
 
Plans initially called for the 175-bed facility to expand further into the former LaGarde compound and eventually have as many as 500 beds, but the grandiose plans never materialized. On Oct. 26, 1949, The Times-Picayune announced Lakeshore Hospital would close Oct. 31, only five days later and less than three-and-a-half years after it opened. On Oct. 29, The Times-Picayune reported Judge Alexander Rainold of the Civil District Court approved the three-year-old Lakeshore Hospital’s abandonment and the liquidation of the New Orleans Medical Foundation. The article also noted that officials from Charity Hospital and the Levee Board had toured the hospital to see how much of the complex may be suitable as a new home for the Gordon-Musser tuberculosis hospital.

The idea that tubercular patients would be treated in a facility that just happened to sit on prime lakeshore real estate didn’t sit well with residents, developers or the Levee Board. The site became a shopping center.


Dear Julia,
I own an old corner grocery on the corner of General Pershing and S. Liberty streets.

Can you help me find more information on this property or send my request along?

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

David Jackson
New Orleans


Your grocery was, for more than a half a century, run by members of the Williamson family. Around 1909, Thomas Williamson (d. 1911), a first generation American of German-Irish heritage, managed the corner grocery later run by his son, John S. Williamson (d. 1964), who lived there his entire life.  

Thomas Williamson and his wife, Amelia Musser, both of German heritage, would have been acutely aware of the anti-German sentiment sweeping the community during and after World War I. I am quite certain they noticed when their Berlin Street address was changed to General Pershing, honoring a war hero but removing a German city’s name from the street grid.

Unfortunately, while there’s no one-stop shop for histories or chains of title for properties beyond the French Quarter, there’s some good news. The New Orleans Public Library has recently updated its excellent instructional guide which details how to research local buildings from scratch. You can find the updated guide at: NewOrleansPublicLibrary.org/~nopl/house2/intro.htm.


Dear Julia & Poydras,
I recently located the obituary of my great-grandfather, Louis P. Cuneo, who died Sept. 28, 1910, in New Orleans. He owned a restaurant at 707 St. Charles St., named Cuneo. My mom used to tell stories of how her mother and father met in the restaurant.

What I would like to know is, in his obit they mentioned that he was a member of Stonehenge Grove of Druids and Sons of Louisiana. I haven’t been able to locate any information on these clubs.

Louis P. Cuneo was born in Genoa in 1855 and when he was 2 he moved to New Orleans. When he died he had had the restaurant for 34 years. Up until a few years before someone redid the building where the restaurant was you could still see the name “CUNEO’S” on the top of the brick above the balcony.

I would appreciate any information you could find on him. If anyone can, I’m sure Poydras can find something!

Pat W. Higginbotham
Metairie


Why does everyone think Poydras has all the answers? His idea of Italian dining is to open a can of SpaghettiO’s.

The Stonehenge Grove was a local lodge of the United Ancient Order of Druids (UAOD), an international fraternal organization that had first come to New Orleans in the mid-1850s. Like other similar groups, it provided members with not only fellowship but also security in times of need.

Charles R. Fagot was the first president of the Benevolent Association of the Sons of Louisiana, which was established in 1856. As its name suggests, it was a benevolent association that used membership fees to help members in need of medical care or funeral services. In 1881, the Benevolent Association of the Sons of Louisiana took part in festivities honoring the late President James A. Garfield.


Dear Julia,
Driving the new Huey P. Long Bridge can’t help but bring back the tight-fisted drive over the old Huey P. My wife and I often speculated on the sharp jog in the roadway about two thirds of the way over coming from the West Bank. The jog was up river, and if you were in the slow lane, as I always was hugging the railing, it was very noticeable and somewhat disconcerting. It was marked by tire rubbings on the concrete curb. On the trip from east to west the curb jogged away if in the slow lane and wasn’t nearly as noticeable. Our speculation was that the construction started from both sides and didn’t quite match up. Do you have and information on this “jog?”

David Keiffer
New Orleans


I have information on it but I still don’t know if the “jogs” are flaws or intentional features. There is about a three-foot difference in width between the east approach roadway and the through-truss section of the bridge, necessitating the foot-and-a-half jogs at the points where one leaves or enters the through-truss section from the east side. Bridge construction did begin at each shore and continue until the pieces met but, since the amount of compensation appears to be about the same on both sides of the east approach, was the problem a lack of alignment or was the problem actually that the east roadway was correctly aligned but was built too wide to connect with the narrower section where the roadway runs through the central truss? Why isn’t the west approach “kinky” as well?


Dear Julia,
During the Preakness race the official state song “Maryland, My Maryland” was sung. It brought to mind the tribute to John McDonogh whose philanthropy funded schools in New Orleans and Baltimore.

Every May, New Orleans public school children would be bused to Lafayette Square to lay flowers at the statue of John McDonogh. Then they would pass though the mayor’s office in Gallier Hall, all the while singing to the “Maryland, My Maryland” tune.

I can’t remember all the words to the song but one line was “All praise to him, all praise to him!”

Any chance Poydras would know the rest?

Carmel N. Brown
Vestavia, AL


Poydras doesn’t remember all the words, but Myrrah Font’s original poem appeared in its entirety in the Dec. 4, 1898 issue of the Daily Picayune.

Font, the winner of a contest to compose a poem in McDonogh’s honor, had graduated from the Upper Girls’ High School earlier that year and had accepted a scholarship to Newcomb College. As the McDonogh monument committee had stipulated when asking for poetic submissions, Font set her verses to the tune of “Maryland, My Maryland” – a nod to the philanthropist’s birthplace.

 

Win a Court of Two Sisters Jazz Brunch or Lunch at the Rib Room

Here is a chance to eat, drink and listen to music, and have your curiosity satiated all at once. Send Julia a question. If we use it, you’ll be eligible for a monthly drawing for one of two Jazz Brunch gift certificates for two at The Court of Two Sisters in the Vieux Carré. To take part, send your question to: Julia Street, c/o New Orleans Magazine, 110 Veterans Blvd., Suite 123, Metairie, LA 70005 or email: Errol@MyNewOrleans.com. This month’s winners are: Carmel Brown, Vestavia, Ala.; and David Keiffer, New Orleans.


JOHN McDONOGH

I.
O, wake the trumpet of renown
Far echoing a hero’s name!

O, bring the shining laurel crown
That marks the glow of honored fame!

“McDonogh!” let the trumpet blow,
And with the garland twine his brow,
Extol him with your voices now,
“Praise to him, all praise to him!”

II.
He sought not paths where glory shone,
Nor dreamed of name in southern lore;
Twin cities claim him for their own,
New Orleans and Baltimore!

He gave his wealth to educate,
He lived that end to consummate,
His memory then perpetuate;
“Praise to him, all praise to him!”

III.
McDonogh, unto three we rear
A monument of fairest art,
In memory of thy high career,
Enshrined within each grateful heart!

Now, ready hands, your offerings fling!

No, youthful tongues, laudations sing
Until the heavens the echoes ring
“Praise to him, all praise to him!”

– Myrrah Font
 

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JULIA STREET WITH POYDRAS THE PARROT

THE PURSUIT TO ANSWER ETERNAL QUESTIONS

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