JULIA STREET WITH POYDRAS THE PARROT
THE PURSUIT TO ANSWER ETERNAL QUESTIONS
photograph courtesy of The Charles L. Franck Studio Collection at The Historic New Orleans Collection
When I was a 5 or 6 years old, my brother-in-law worked at the Old Union Brewery. I believe it was on Claiborne Avenue in the 9th Ward.
My brother-in law didn’t have an automobile, so my dad would pick him up at the brewery and I often went along for the ride. On a few occasions, I was able to go into the area where vats of beer were aging or cooling (I don’t know which) and was treated to a taste of the brew from copper containers.
What ever happened to the brewery and what were those copper containers named?
The architectural firm of Toledano and Wogan designed the Union Brewery building, which opened for business in mid-May 1912 under the leadership of Joseph DiCarlo and George Mule, and brew master Henry Dielhman. At the time, the brewery at 2809 N. Robertson St. sold only keg beer. As far as your question about the brewery’s metal containers is concerned, they are commonly known as “coppers” or “brew kettles.”
During Prohibition, Union produced Bingo, a hops-and-malt-based soft drink. Coincidentally in April 1921, Union’s director, management, brew master and five local barmen were indicted for conspiring to sell 1,392 pints of 4 percent beer. Within two months, Union was again raided, netting 78 casks and 909 cases of beer. Following the repeal of the Volstead Act, Union resumed legal production of real beer but declared bankruptcy in ’39.
The Union Brewery complex still stands, although its beer-brewing days ended over 75 years ago. According to the Orleans Parish assessor’s online database, it appears property’s current owner is 2801 N. Robertson, LLC., which purchased the site in 2011.
This mosaic at the entrance of 241 Royal St. has always fascinated me. The piece reads “Monteleone the greatest on Earth.”
Would you share some information about the mosaic and the history of the building, and why the piece is located across the street from the hotel?
Kate Canales Locke
The mosaic depicts the Monteleone family’s coat of arms, but isn’t signed by the artist who created it.
Antonio Monteleone, the man for whom the Hotel Monteleone was built, amassed his personal fortune as a shoemaker. In 1894, he purchased from Romanzo Warwick Montgomery the 241 Royal St. property (formerly 51 Royal St.) and established a shoe factory. Monteleone also resided there for the first few years after he acquired the property.
Dear Julia and Poydras,
In 1965 my wife and I graduated from John McDonogh Senior High. Until several years ago, the last time we had been in McDonogh was the day we walked out at the end of our senior year. We moved away in ’74 due to a company transfer and haven’t lived in the city of our youth since then.
We decided to drive by our old high school just to look at it because we had heard it was to be demolished. While there, we were fortunate enough to see a gentleman walk out of the school who happened to be the principal, so we talked with him about what we had heard. He told us the original bylaws prevented any other establishment to be built in place of our school without the John McDonogh Senior High name associated with it.
He invited us to come inside to see what the school looked like; it was remarkable how much remained the same.
Since that visit we’ve again heard that the school will be demolished and replaced with something not even closely associated with the name John McDonogh Senior High. If that’s truly going to happen, then maybe the descendants of Mr. McDonogh should ask the City of New Orleans for the millions back that were donated to build the many schools that bore his name. Sorry I regress, but it did upset us to know that our school will no longer be there on Esplanade Avenue.
I believe the three years that I attended John McDonogh Senior High I saw many parrots fly overhead, and one of them must have been Poydras. I am sure Poydras still has a perch on top of the school and doesn’t want that perch demolished, so maybe you can find out if what we have heard is really true, and if so, how is that possible given Mr. McDonogh specifically stated in documented papers that there could be nothing but a John McDonogh Senior High in that location on Esplanade Avenue? We were a class of over 500, and many of us still visit for reunions every five years. The demolition of our school has come up several times in our discussions.
We realize the school is old and it would be virtually impossible to accommodate the new technology required in modern day schools, but to eliminate the name completely should be viewed as a travesty.
Ken and Mary Ann Francis
Y’all don’t look for Poydras there. His feeling have been hurt ever since he tried to get the school to name its mascot The Parrots.
The naming of the high school located at 2426 Esplanade Ave. has been a contentious point ever since the building’s completion in 1912. Originally known as the Esplanade Avenue Girls’ High School, it was built on land the city acquired in ’09 and ’11 per ordinances 5871 NCS (New Council Series) and 8288 NCS. When McDonogh No. 3 alumni and others learned the new public secondary school wouldn’t bear the philanthropist’s name, they unsuccessfully asked the city to reconsider. Mayor Martin Behrman, who as Mayor of New Orleans also served as ex-officio chairman of the McDonogh Commission, was adamant that the school shouldn’t bear the McDonogh name because monies for its construction hadn’t come from the McDonogh Fund. Ordinance 8745 (8745 NCS) made the Esplanade name official.
In January 1923, the Orleans Parish School Board, at the suggestion of the High School Alumnae Association, quietly changed the building’s name to John McDonogh High School. I have been unable to determine whether or not there was a city ordinance addressing the ’23 name change.
Win a restaurant gift certificate
Here is a chance to eat, drink 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 a tour and Creole breakfast for two at Degas House or a Jazz Brunch for two at The Court of Two Sisters. 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 KAte Canales Locke, Jenks, Oklahoma; and John Magnon, Fairhope, Alabama.