Julia Street

Dear Julia and Poydras,

My 85-year-old mother recently gave me these “Communion” pictures of her aunt and uncle. The boy and girl were photographed in New Orleans at the Daliet Studio. Could this have been a studio in the French Quarter or perhaps on Poydras Street? Why did this little girl balance her fan on her head? Where is her rosary and prayer book? My mother’s only explanation is that her aunt was a “free spirit” and wouldn’t listen to the instructions of the photographer but struck her own pose. The boy, in contrast, is so serious and well posed (notice the background and props) while the girl has only her fan.
Any information on the studio and where it was located?
Pat Marino

New Orleans native Aristide Daliet worked as a professional photographer from 1868 until he died in 1905, at 61. Through much of his career he was joined in his Frenchmen Street studio by his older brothers Jules (d.1892) and Octave (d.1887). Following Aristide Daliet’s death, his son-in-law, Albert H. Menange, briefly operated the studio at 517 Frenchmen St., in Faubourg Marigny. The studio appears to have gone out of business around 1912.

It looks as if your photos probably date from around the turn of the century and may have been taken toward the end of the studio’s existence. According to Aristide Daliet’s obituary, many local people remembered having sat, as children, in front of his camera. One wonders if your great-aunt was among the subjects the photographer remembered.

She appears to have been quite the character. Her rosary and prayer book are nowhere in sight but there is something threaded through her curls that just might be a scapular. Regardless of where she managed to hide her religious accessories, I think the explanation of her unique pose is obvious. She was simply being defiant and doing her best to disrupt the photo shoot. Her gaze is overly serious but she appears to be deliberately staring at her nose rather than looking into the camera. Her brother, in contrast, looks reasonably pious as he stands with one leg slightly bent with his gaze cast heavenward.

Dear Julia,
A formerly nondescript building that has long belonged to the New Orleans Public Belt Railway has been undergoing a very elaborate redevelopment, including the addition of parking lots and the lavish planting of palm trees. The building is located directly across Tchoupitoulas Street from Hansen’s Sno-Bliz at Bordeaux Street. What was the building originally used for and for what use is the redesigned facility intended?
Arthur and Caroline Nead
New Orleans

The flurry of activity around the 4822 Tchoupitoulas St. complex is in preparation for the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad’s 2008 centennial. One of the City’s “unattached boards and commissions,” the New Orleans Public Belt is a department of neither the city nor the state; instead it’s a separate self-governing entity. Publicly owned and operated, the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad is unique insofar as the citizens of the City of New Orleans – not the railroads with which New Orleans Public Belt Railroad connects – own the terminal switching railroad that operates through the Public Belt Railroad Commission.

The building with the curved front is the railroad’s roundhouse. The railroad’s Tchoupitoulas Street locomotive repair facility handles running repairs and scheduled maintenance for the Public Belt’s fleet. The repair facility has an overhead sand system and a hoist capable of lifting 200 tons. The Public Belt’s turntable is one of the few in the South to remain in use. The railroad’s main office building, next to the roundhouse, is also undergoing restoration and renovation. A new 2,700-square-foot building is being constructed and will be used for records storage.

Dear Julia,
 I have a question regarding the beautiful St. Scholastica Academy in Covington, which is an all-girls school. In the 1950s and later it was a boarding school with students coming from other states as well as other countries. I say boys attended the school and my husband says no way, that the boys went to St. Peters, which was across the street from SSA. Who is right? My reputation for never being wrong depends on your answer.
Sandy Morris

Consider your reputation to be sullied. Founded in 1903, St. Scholastica is a college-preparatory academy devoted entirely to educating young women enrolled in grades eight through 12. Originally a boarding school run by Benedictine nuns, the academy became a day school in the mid ’70s. Recognized for academic excellence, St. Scholastica Academy, now in its second century, continues to educate and inspire young women from several Northshore parishes.
Dear Julia,
With the recent passing of Harry Lee, I have a question for you. I grew up in New Orleans during the late 1950s and ’60s. On weekends, mostly Sunday evenings, my parents would take my brother and me out for dinner. Back then going out to eat was something very special – not like today when some people eat out every night. We would all hop in the family car and away we would go. Sometimes to the Royal Orleans and the Rib Room or the Pontchartrain Hotel. For Chinese food, the only place was The House of Lee. I can still remember Harry Lee being at the front door, greeting us as we came in.

My question is where exactly was The House of Lee located? All I can remember was that it took us a long time to get there – we lived on Jefferson Avenue. I know it was on Veterans Boulevard in Metairie but back then Veterans was quite different. I don’t even remember Lakeside Mall being there yet. Where was my favorite Chinese restaurant?
Leo A. Bergman
New Iberia

The House of Lee was located on the lakeside of Veterans Boulevard at Causeway Boulevard, the current site of the Borders bookstore. Lee Bing, Harry Lee’s father, had operated in the 1940s a restaurant on Baronne Street. In December ’59, he opened the House of Lee at the corner of Veterans and Causeway boulevards. Proprietorship would later pass to siblings Davis and Virginia Lee. The beloved Cantonese restaurant was in existence for 36 years; it was demolished in December ’96.

There is a small cemetery in Chalmette on Prosper Street. Apparently, it’s an old African-American cemetery. I have tried researching on the Internet regarding its history but have been unsuccessful. Do you have any information? It’s named “Ellen Cemetery.”
Earline Hutchison

The old Ellen Cemetery was a burial ground for the Fazendeville community. The settlement it once served was demolished a little less than 50 years ago; only the cemetery remains.

In the late 1860s, freedman Jean Pierre Fazende, a grocer, began selling lots in a parcel of land he had inherited to recently emancipated blacks. Located on lands where the Battle of New Orleans was fought, Fazendeville was a small but tight-knit community that extended in a narrow strip near the river, between the Chalmette National Cemetery and the Chalmette Monument. In the early 1960s, in preparation for the Battle of New Orleans Sesquicentennial Celebration, the National Park Service and local preservationists set out to expand the Chalmette National Historic Park in an effort to encompass the known boundaries of the historic battlefield. Fazendeville residents were forced out, their homes and institutions were razed and a century-old community was wiped off the map in an effort to preserve history. Many Fazendeville residents relocated to the Lower 9th Ward where, nearly a half-century later, they were displaced once more when the levees failed.

Fazendeville is now largely forgotten since its physical traces were so thoroughly obliterated. Residents in New Orleans’ recovering historic neighborhoods should take note. They may be the next to hear they will be forced to sell the homes they struggled to save and leave the neighborhoods they tried to revitalize. Formal historic review is supposed to precede demolition of historic or potentially historic structures but the responsibility and expense for undertaking a Section 106 review often falls upon the party who is seeking to eliminate the property in question. Is it any wonder that we are so rapidly losing our city’s architectural identity?
Win a Court of Two Sisters Jazz Brunch for two or a $150 dining credit to Riche
Here’s a chance to eat, drink, be merry, 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 a New Orleans landmark, THE COURT OF TWO SISTERS in the Vieux Carré or a $150 dining credit at one of New Orleans’ newest jewels, Todd English’s Riche, located in Harrah’s Hotel.

To take part, send your question to: Julia Street c/o New Orleans Magazine, 110 Veterans Blvd., Suite 123, Metairie, La. 70005 or email to: errol@neworleansmagazine.com. This month’s winners are: Pat Marino, Metairie and Arthur & Caroline Nead, New Orleans.

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