Julia Street | WITH POYDRAS THE PARROT
Inner Harbor Navigation Canal (postcard circa 1923)
My wife is a proud product of your fine city (and as a proud Yankee I love it too in so many ways). I recently became involved with Ancestry.com. I was working on my wife’s side of the family and in the process, she related a desire to know something of her past. Her family had property in the area where the Industrial Canal was built. She was told as a child that they moved the house instead of demolishment. It was located at 4513 St. Claude. It is listed as such on the 1900 U.S. Census. Now, the house is located at 4511 St. Claude.
Both of us find it somewhat hard to believe that they tried to preserve any buildings in the area, especially after asking Ursuline to move. Is there any way to find out? Perhaps Poydras could take a deep dive into the canal and find the original foundation? - Paul Forde (Argo, AL)
I am not convinced the house was relocated due to construction of the Inner Harbor Navigational Canal, the waterway popularly known as the Industrial Canal. In fact, I have reason to doubt whether it moved at all.
The Inner Harbor Navigation Canal was in the works for years and was formally dedicated in 1922. The huge tract on which the Ursuline Convent sat was eventually selected as the canal site but it was not acquired until 1918. Although that tract was less than three blocks away from the 4500 block of St. Claude, canal construction and land acquisition does not appear to have involved that block even though the bridge approach runs right in front of it. Furthermore, it seems odd that the house would be moved a few dozen feet away to the lot immediately next door to its former location years before canal site selection was finalized and the Ursuline tract was acquired.
In the late 1800s, Jean Saunee and his wife, Camille Casteix, like many others in that part of the old Third District, were farmers. The couple raised crops and ran a dairy on St. Claude between Alexander and Josephine Streets (now Kentucky and Japonica). Later widowed, Camille then wed Jean Marie Lacassagne but continued living at the same St. Claude location. When the 1900 census was taken, Camille’s family, including daughter Bertha Saunee, lived at 4513 St. Claude.
When Camille passed away in 1906, her widower quickly divided property among her children and daughter Bertha got two lots. In 1908, Bertha married Emile Schwartz; baby Emile came along the following year. The newlyweds and their baby lived for a while in Bertha’s childhood home at 4513 St. Claude but sometime between 1910 and 1913, they were listed as living at 4511 St. Claude. The most likely explanation may be that the old family home was replaced with a newer and presumably larger one erected next door on lots Bertha had purchased from her mother’s estate. The couple’s second child was born in 1911, so did the expanding family needed more space?
Flying over Gentilly earlier this summer, Poydras was unable to find an example of the LCCO sidewalk marking Mike Carrol described in our July issue. An alert reader happened to glance down while jogging through the area and shared a picture of the faint markings, which read LA.C.CO.,Inc. and most likely refers to the Louisiana Concrete Company, Inc.
I am writing in response to a question posed by Rob Pisani in the last column. Neither Julia nor Poydras had ever heard of the sparkle houses and did not know where they were. Also, because I know where they were, I suspect that Julia/Poydras was wrong about where Rob went to get his donuts. I’d bet dollars to donuts that Rob went to the Louisiana Avenue location, and not Bayou Road, because the sparkle houses “weren’t too far from Picou’s.”
I went to the “new” Dominican High School on Walmsley in the mid to late 1960s. At the time, a chemical plant was located directly behind Dominican, occupying a large lot between Earhart and Colapissa Street. The sparkle houses were little one story (appeared to be on slabs), stucco-like boxes on Colapissa Street between Pine Street and Lowerline, facing the chemical plant. One was painted semi-bright yellow and one was painted a pretty Tahiti-lagoon blue. I thought there was a third or more, but I can only picture two. Embedded in the stucco was what appeared to be glitter. The entire house sparkled in the sunlight. I loved it!
Now, if these aren’t the ones Rob remembers, I would love to know about others. These two were great. - Mary L. Dumestre (New Orleans, LA)
I’m sorry to say you’d lose money or munchies if you actually made that wager, Mary. Unless Rob had a functional time machine, the only Picou’s location he and his pals could have patronized in the early 1970s was the one on Bayou Road. Picou’s store at 2138 Louisiana Avenue was fairly short-lived. By 1956, Cado’s Liquor Store was operating at that address and remained there until the early 1970s, when the site became the Family Inn.
The row of mid-20th century houses that stood along the 7300 block of Colapissa Street between Pine and Lowerline were razed more than a decade ago. Since I never personally saw the houses in person or in pictures, I must trust your recollection that they appeared glittery. While not close to Picou’s, the houses you recall were not terribly far away by automobile, especially if a driver used nearby Fountainbleau Drive as a shortcut to Broad Street. It is possible that you and Rob are recalling the same houses but I suspect there may have been another set of shiny houses in the general vicinity of Bayou Road and N. Dorgenois Street.
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 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 Loretta Tuminello, New Orleans and Marinus Quist, Covington, LA.