JULIA STREET: A monthly pursuit of answers to eternal questions

Dear Julia,
I enjoy your informative articles in New Orleans Magazine.
My husband and I have wondered about a rooftop fixture on many shotgun houses around the Uptown area. It is located at the ridgeline of the roof (usually slate roofs). Hubby thinks they resemble a rooster. I see no special shape, as most of them are different. It appears to be about 10 inches by 15 inches.
Sandra and Greg Moise
Houma

This type of roof-edge decoration is not unique to Uptown shotguns but is, rather, typical for the period during which many of those homes were built. It is a feature most often associated with Eastlake-style homes built approximately between 1880 to 1905. Eastlake style is often what people mean when they talk about shotgun homes built in the late Victorian era. These homes have plenty of “gingerbread,” such as carved brackets, and porches surrounded by bands of spindles and piercework.
English architect Charles Locke Eastlake, after whom the style is named, wrote the 1868 book Hints of Household Taste. Later published in the United States, the book was vastly popular. Although it is almost entirely about interior decoration and furniture design, Eastlake’s book inspired American builders to apply his sense of aesthetics to exterior home decoration. At least that’s what they thought they were doing; Eastlake himself disliked what homebuilders had wrought in his name.
Properly known as a “finial,” the gable-edge tile can be any shape but it most often takes the form of a rooster’s comb.

Dear Julia,
My family used to enjoy dining at Kolb’s. For years, I’ve been wondering if a really lurid story I once heard over dinner at Kolb’s has any basis in fact or if someone was pulling my leg. A very long time ago, did a waiter from that restaurant really get eaten by a shark?
Frank Soileau
Metairie

No, he wasn’t eaten, but Peter Kontopoulos was mortally injured when a shark attacked him as he was swimming in deep water off Spanish Fort on the afternoon of Sept. 5, 1914. Swimmers hearing his screams got a boat and rowed to the young man’s aid. They reached him as he was being dragged underwater and managed to use oars to beat off the shark but the 17-year-old Turk bled to death before his rescuers could reach land. At the time of his death, he had been employed as a busboy at a Gravier Street café; he also worked at Kolb’s, as did his brother.
A newspaper article that ran in the days following the attack expressed doubt about whether the killer was actually a shark. While fishermen asserted their belief that the culprit was either an alligator or a large gar, it is more likely that the animal in question really was a shark – especially since witnesses reported seeing the fish’s outline in the water and saw it as it circled and repeatedly attacked the stricken young man.
I did not see any follow-up story indicating that Kontopoulos’ killer was caught or positively identified. Lake Pontchartrain, however, is known to contain sharks, including some bull sharks, a species known to attract humans.

Dear Julia,
My family is from Lakeview and, when I was little, I remember hearing that St. Dominic’s Church had a dozen different locations before the present church was built in 1961. Is that true? Is the current church really No. 13 for that parish? As an aside, we thought we saw Poydras flying around Harrison Avenue, surveying the area’s progress. I know Poydras is generally a French Quarter bird, but maybe he’ll be part of the rebuilding effort by establishing a roost in the suburbs?
Dana Donnelly
New Orleans

Dana, that was Poydras that you saw. He flies over Harrison Avenue frequently hoping for signs of progress and wishing for it to return. He says that he saved one of his FEMA checks so that on the night that the Steak Knife restaurant re-opens he’ll buy a round of champagne for the house.
As with most things we hear, that’s not precisely true, but you’re pretty close.
The present church is the third St. Dominic church to serve the congregation since the parish’s establishment in 1922. According to a parish history, published in 1944, Roman Catholics in Lakeview may have set a record for the number of different places in which the congregation has celebrated Mass. And, yes, including the places the congregation held Mass prior to the formal creation of the parish, the present church is No. 13.
Previous St. Dominic Church locations:
Mannessier’s Pavillion, Robert E. Lee at West End Boulevard, 1912
Ave Maria Chapel, 209 Chapelle St., 1912-1915
School and Chapel, 575 Polk Ave., 1913-1915
Lakeview Public School, 6020 Colbert St., 1915-1917
Derbes family home, 6327 West End Blvd., 1915-1917
(New) Ave Maria Chapel, Milne Street at Harrison Avenue, 1917-1923
St. Dominic’s Church, 224 Harrison Ave., 1923
Mr. Carmel Convent, Robert E. Lee Blvd., 1926
La Garde General Hospital, 421 Robert E. Lee Blvd., 1940
U.S. Navy Hospital, 7273 Canal Blvd., 1940
Lakeview Theatre, Harrison Avenue at Vicksburg Street, 1942-1944
St. Dominic’s Church Auditorium, 6325 Vicksburg St., 1944-1961

Dear Julia
When I was 10 years old, my cousin would take me to “The Little Tavern.” Of course, it’s long gone. Do you remember if it was facing Louisiana Avenue or St. Charles Avenue?
Anita Georges
Metairie

The Little Tavern and the St. Charles Avenue Liquor Store were located at 3402 St. Charles Ave. Both appear to have gone into business in the 1930s and were around until the early 1950s. Lest readers accuse your cousin of contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile, I should mention that city directories identified the tavern’s proprietor as Ellis G. George. City directories so often contain incorrect spellings, and it is not unusual for related families to have surnames with slightly different spellings. So, even though you didn’t say so, I’ll guess that you and your cousin were visiting a relative rather than imbibing intoxicating substances.

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