Dear Julia,
According to recent reports in the media, plans are underway to provide streetcar service along the St. Claude Avenue corridor. Some sources state that there previously had been service many years ago, which later was discontinued. If this is true, when did the trains operate in the area, for which period of time, and why was the service halted?

 Claudette Mitchell
New Orleans

The St. Claude streetcar was still in operation during many readers’ living memory, so its existence isn’t something that only “some sources” should be able to confirm. Neither is it disputable that urban rail service, first mule-drawn and later electric, served the river side of the 8th and upper 9th Wards since the mid-19th century. The St. Claude streetcar was a relative latecomer; New Orleans Public Service, Inc. operated the line from early 1926 until bus service replaced it on New Year’s Day ’49.

Opinions differ as to the precise reason for streetcar removal. Whether because of modernization or because of alleged maneuvering by transportation industry giants, the nationwide removal of urban rail systems, beginning in the late 1940s, suddenly changed the character of intra-urban transportation throughout the entire country.

From the late 1940s to the mid-’60s, the New Orleans streetscape was radically altered as streetcar tracks throughout the city were ripped out in the name of progress.

What happened along St. Claude, in Marigny and in Bywater neighborhoods was happening throughout the city. Among the major local streetcar lines eliminated during this era was the Tulane Avenue line. Originally known as the Canal and Common line, it first ran in January 1871 and operated on rails for 80 years until it was partially supplanted by trackless trolleys and, later, by diesel busses. Its barn, built in the 1860s and destroyed by fire in 1902, was on the site of the present-day Dixie Brewery.

Dear Julia,
My family and I love to visit New Orleans and come as often as we can. Once or twice we were on Magazine Street and dined at Monroe’s. What was unique about the restaurant was that we were told it was an old pharmacy factory. Some of the seating was in a circular section that formally housed some type of vessel that was used to mix the pharmaceuticals. This was in the early 1990s. Many times we have gone back and often wonder, what happened to it?

Give Poydras a big “Howdy ya’ll” from Texas.

John Laughlin

Port Neches, Texas

John, Poydras hasn’t been allowed inside Texas ever since … well, never mind.

Monroe’s was located at 3218 Magazine St., where a branch of the American Drug Store once operated. Offering steak and seafood, Monroe’s restaurant opened in the early 1980s, at a location that had housed Turci’s, a well-known local Italian restaurant. Monroe’s closed not long after you visited it. The Lebanese restaurant Byblos currently operates at that location.

Dear Julia,
Phil, an Italian fried of mine, is the seventh son of a seventh son. That was considered to be a lucky omen for him. Johnny Rivers, in his song, “Seventh Son,” sings about the mystical powers of seventh sons. (“Heal the sick, raise the dead, make the little girls talk out of their heads.”)

How did this belief originate? I know you can find the answer to this question. Thanks!

 Marilyn Silbernagel

Folk beliefs surrounding seventh sons of seventh sons have been around for centuries, even though it’s difficult to say exactly where or when the beliefs originated.

The number seven does have significance to multiple cultures and religions. In the Biblical creation story, God labors for six days then rests on the seventh day.

The belief that the seventh son of a seventh son is a natural healer is a folk tradition known in the British Isles as well as in France and Germany. Irish-born seventh sons of seventh sons, according to some folk traditions, were believed to possess gifts for prophesy as well as healing. As with any deal that sounds too good to be true, there is a catch: In most versions of folklore surrounding seventh sons of seventh sons, the boys must be born in an unbroken series. If any female births intervene, the seventh son will have no special powers.

Mme. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831-’91), the colorful and controversial 19th-century Theosophist, believed the number seven had special mystical significance. It was her belief that a tradition of identifying seventh sons of seventh sons as sorcerers could be traced to Egyptian lore about the god Set-Typhon.

Dear Julia,
Every month when my New Orleans Magazine pops into my mailbox, I immediately turn the pages to your section to see what questions you’re answering this month. I am not originally from New Orleans, but love learning about its history since I have been a resident here for more than five years now.

I read the article called “A Railroading Town” (“Chronicles” by Carolyn Kolb) in the July issue and I got to thinking about the Whole Foods store on Magazine Street. I had been told the building was a railroad station at one point, and I wanted to know the history behind that. Was it used for trains or streetcars?

 Stephanie Krell
New Orleans (originally Miami)

In the 1880s, the Crescent City Railroad Company established the Arabella streetcar barn to serve the Canal and Coliseum and Upper Magazine Line. The streetcar tracks were removed in 1948, but the barn remained in service as a bus maintenance facility until 2000, when the new Canal Street barn began service. The Arabella Station was then renovated and, in 2002, began its new life as the Uptown location of the Texas-based Whole Foods Markets. 

Dear Julia,
A house was built for one of my Voisin family ancestors several generations ago. I have heard that it was still standing on River Road several years ago, but was in very bad condition. Reportedly there had been severe storm damage and other problems.

I have never seen the property and don’t know the exact location or if the building is still there. We are planning a trip to New Orleans and thought it would be interesting to go to the plantation site.

Could you please help me locate the property and find out if the house is still there?

Bob Whitty
Austin, Texas

Built about 1790, Voisin Plantation was located at River Road and East 13th Street in Reserve. Originally built as a raised cottage, the home was significantly modified when it was moved from its original location due to river encroachment. Heavily damaged by Hurricane Betsy, it was subsequently abandoned, fell into further disrepair and was eventually demolished.