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Julia Street with Poydras the Parrot

THE PURSUIT TO ANSWER ETERNAL QUESTIONS

The Delgado Flash, piloted by Clarence McArthur

State Library of Louisiana Historic Photograph Collection

Dear Julia,
I recently learned that the Passenger Terminal building at New Orleans Lakefront airport (formerly Shushan airport) is being restored as a historical site.

As a student in 1941, I worked after school and weekends at a newsstand and Postal Telegraph outlet in that terminal building. In fact I was working there on Dec. 7, 1941, and heard the radio broadcast that Japan had attacked Pearl Harbor.

Can you tell me what happened to the owner of the newsstand? As I recall, she was an attractive lady named Rhea McArthur. I am not certain, but I believe she was the widow of an air race pilot. She may have closed the stand shortly after the Dec. 7th attack.

John Magnon
Fairhope, AL


I have been unable to determine what happened to Mrs. McArthur and her newsstand but I was able to confirm that she was the widow of world record-setting aviator. In 1938, her 28-year old husband, Clarence McArthur (’10-’39), a native of Tampa, Fla., piloted the locally built Delgado Flash airplane to a world speed record.

Built at what was then known as the Delgado Trade School, the little black-and-white biplane known as the Delgado Flash was powered by a Menasco C6-S4 engine. Competing as a single-seat plane not exceeding 549 cubic inches displacement, the Delgado Flash set a world speed record for its class when, in 1938, it raced along a 100-kilometer course from Shushan Airport to the town of Reserve and back again. The Delgado Flash, traveling at 207.027 mph, made the round-trip in 18 minutes and four seconds and took its place in the annals of Louisiana aviation history.

Less than a year later, while visiting Memphis to perform during Cotton Carnival, aviator Clarence McArthur died. Attempting to escape his burning hotel room, McArthur was fatally injured when he jumped from a sixth-floor balcony. He was survived by his wife, Ree or Rhea Du Berry McArthur of Tampa, Fla.

Dear Julia,
I have been a big fan of yours and New Orleans Magazine since I moved to the “Easy” almost 20 years ago and have seen many changes, some good and some bad.

I have been wondering about a derelict building on Rampart Street in back of the Saenger, near the renovation. Someone told me it was a furniture store years ago but my adept eye, looking at the facade, leads me to think that it may have been a theater. Can you give me some of its history?

Rick Reiners
New Orleans


Looks can be deceiving. Despite its outward appearance, 201 N. Rampart St. wasn’t built as a theater and doesn’t appear to have ever been used for that purpose. In July 1923, the then-new structure at the corner of N. Rampart and Iberville streets opened its doors as the J. P. Schaeffer Furniture Company, named in honor of its owner and proprietor, Alsatian furniture merchant Joseph Paul Schaeffer. For more than half a century, the building housed a succession of home furnishing stores.

The J. P. Schaeffer Furniture Company operated at that location until 1942, when the commercial property became Joy’s Department Store, later known as Joy’s Furniture Center. In ’64, Joy’s made way for a new owner when Norveil O. Alexander opened Alexander’s Furniture Store at that location, remaining there until about ’77. Following an extended period of vacancy, the building at 201 N. Rampart St. was split into two smaller stores; in the mid ’80s, Bargain Center USA and United Television and Furniture Rentals operated in that space.

Dear Julia,
What is the history of the house located at 1706 Jackson Ave.? A relative of ours recently purchased that property. We know it was owned by the Cohen family, built around 1915, and then owned by the Polmers. The Marists may have purchased it in ’76 and used it as a school.

Can you send Poydras on over there to get a bird’s eye view? Any information you can find would be much appreciated now that this “grand” house is in the family.

Mrs. B. Burrows
New Orleans


Mrs. Burrows, the only bird’s eye view that Poydras ever gets is from a taxi because he doesn’t like to fly. He says the wing flapping makes him tired and he doesn’t like heights.

Your information is correct, though there are some other pretty important details. The home at 1706 Jackson Ave., is more than 30 years older than you had been told. Furthermore its original owners were among the city’s best-known 19th century journalists.
    
Originally numbered 290 Jackson Ave., the home was built around 1883 for George Nicholson (1820-1896) and his wife, Eliza Jane Poitevent Holbrook Nicholson (1849-1896), proprietors of the Daily Picayune. George Nicholson died Feb. 5, 1896, and as was the custom in those days, was waked at home rather than in a rented funeral parlor. Only 10 days after George Nicholson’s death, the house again hosted a funeral as Nicholson’s widow, Eliza Jane, succumbed to influenza and followed him to the grave.

The couple’s son, Yorke Nicholson, lived in the Jackson Avenue residence until 1914, when he sold it for an undisclosed amount to Mr. and Mrs. Nathan Cohen who then became the home’s second owners.

Dear Julia,
I have lived in New Orleans for 50 years and have often wondered (as have my friends) why some of the houses on some streets (such as Esplanade and N. Carrollton avenues) aren’t built perpendicular to the street and sidewalk, but are set at an angle to the street. Why would some be this way and others not on the same street?

Ann Arnold
New Orleans


There can be different explanations why a residence doesn’t directly face its fronting street. Many of our city streets cut across old and long-forgotten pie slice-shaped subdivisions that once had their own lot numbers and property lines. When modern properties straddle those old subdivision boundaries, their lot lines may be found to run diagonally, rather than perpendicular to the fronting street. That is only one reason why local homes may be placed at odd angles. I should mention, though, that some homes may face in unexpected directions simply because an owner told their builder to turn the residence to face a particular way.

Dear Julia,
When I was little, my aunt used to take me to a cafeteria near D. H. Holmes at Lakeside. It wasn’t A&G but I can’t remember its name or anything else about it. Do you remember what was there before A&G?

Aaron Thompson
River Ridge


Located adjacent to the D. H. Holmes department store, Holloway House cafeteria was one of Lakeside’s original tenants. At the time, Lakeside, then in its infancy, looked far different that it does today and was little more than an open-air strip mall.

Chicago-based restaurant operators, the John R. Thompson Company leased the space at Lakeside and operated Holloway House for D. H. Holmes. Originally marketed as a somewhat upscale, modern dining experience, the local Holloway House boasted 16,250 square feet of space in which it could accommodate 390 guests – 110 in the restaurant, 220 in the cafeteria section and 60 in the cocktail lounge. Holloway House operated at Lakeside for little more than a decade. In late 1971, A&G Cafeteria moved into the former Holloway House location.




The Delgado Flash, set a world speed record for its class in 1938.


Julia on TV
Look for the Julia Street question on “Steppin’ Out,” every Friday at 6:30 p.m. on WYES/Channel 12. The show features reviews, news and features about the New Orleans entertainment scene. Viewers who can answer Julia’s weekly question can call in for prizes. Tell ’em you read about the show in New Orleans Magazine.


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: Wayne Arnold, New Orleans; and John Magnon, Fairhope, Ala.
 

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