Dear Julia,
I grew up in New Orleans in the 1950s and ’60s, and I’m fascinated, although somewhat horrified, by some of the structures we’ve allowed to be destroyed in and around New Orleans. I have seen a number of early pictures of the old Charity Hospital on Tulane Avenue, which I think was built in ’31. In architectural renderings and vintage photos there is what appears to be a classic Catholic church across the street from the hospital. In later photos the church seems to have disappeared.

I would sure appreciate any information you can provide about this old church. I hope we’ve learned that many of these buildings are truly architectural gems that can’t be recreated and must be restored. They are an integral and essential part of why our city is such a rich and complex place.

Thanks for any information you can provide,

Mike Fallon

The present Charity Hospital, closed since 2005, dates from 1936 and replaced the previous Charity Hospital that stood at the site for 104 years, from 1832 until 1936. The church across the street was built not long after; St. Joseph Parish was established 171 years ago, in 1844.
Architect T. E. Giraud designed the original St. Joseph Church, which initially served a largely immigrant Irish congregation. Upon completion of the present St. Joseph church, located further up Tulane Avenue, in 1895, the original St. Joseph church was renamed St. Katherine, in honor of Mother Katherine Drexel. With the new name came a new mission to serve people of color. The church originally had a steeple, which was removed in the 1950s because of structural concerns. The structure was razed in 1966.

Dear Julia,
I bought an invitation postcard at a garage sale in Chalmette over 25 years ago. After reading your most recent column in the current issue of New Orleans Magazine, I decided to drag the invitation out to see if you can identify the organization that issued it or tell me more about the organization and its functions. How long was it in existence, and does it still exist?

The organization is called the Woodmen of the World, Cypress Camp No. 37 in Lutcher, Louisiana. The facility is Reynaud’s Hall in Lutcher. The invitation is dated Sat., July 10, 1897.

I don’t have high hopes that we’ll learn much more other than what’s on the card. Maybe Poydras could fly over to Lutcher and ask some of the older residents to see what they remember from family history.

Thanks for reading this letter; I hope you can help solve this question I’ve had since I lived in Mid-City until 1987, when I moved to the Seattle area.


Chuck Eckerson
Tacoma, Washington

Chuck, Poydras never goes to Lutcher. He won’t say why, but it has something to do with a cockatoo he once knew named Cuddles.
In 1890, Joseph Cullen Root established at Omaha, Nebraska, The Woodmen of the World, a fraternal organization that provided life insurance to its members. Now known as the Woodmen of the World Life Insurance Society, the group remains in existence and has 62 active Louisiana chapters, none of which are in the New Orleans or Lutcher areas.

 According to the Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of Sovereign Executive Council of the Woodmen of the World, which was held in March 1898, V. D. Gauthereaux founded Cypress Camp 37 on March 4, 1897. By 1898, there were three Woodmen of the World camps in New Orleans and 15 more located elsewhere in Louisiana. At the time, the organization’s national membership was estimated to be approximately 88,000 men.

Hello Julia & Poydras,
The A&G Cafeteria question in the Feb. 2015 edition of New Orleans Magazine (pg. 19) sparked many memories for me (and for my wife, the New Orleans “native”). We used to travel to New Orleans from the Mississippi Gulf Coast and often stopped at the A&G Cafeteria in Gentilly on the way to Pontchartrain Beach, before turning from Highway 90 onto Elysian Fields. It was a bit of a ritual.
There was a large billboard, across Gentilly/Highway 90, from the shopping center with the A&G Cafeteria. I am struggling with my foggy memory, but feel certain that it was advertising either Falstaff or Regal Beer. It was located on the riverside of the street, and probably in one of those little triangular blocks, like Senate Street, as Gentilly/Highway 90 was cutting across in a bit of a diagonal. This sign was unique, in that it was supported by a large steel structure that rose around a small white building, and was painted white, too. Atop this steel structure was the large sign, which revolved slowly. I seem to recall a pendulum, swaying on both sides of the central support hub, so I think that the beer sign had a clock in it?

I have used every search criteria that I can imagine to try and find a photograph of that sign and of the structure (enclosing the small building), which supported it, but have had zero luck. If I recall correctly, that sign was visible from the A&G Cafeteria across the street, but maybe only from the parking lot.    

Do you or Poydras have any memory of that unique structure and sign, or old photographs of it? I would think that it was there through much of the 1950s, and maybe even into the very early ’60s.

Thank you,

Bill Hunt

Yes, there was a revolving Regal Beer billboard exactly where you remember it, diagonally across from the old Gentilly Woods shopping center. While I’m absolutely positive that it both revolved and promoted Regal Beer, my memory is less clear as to whether it was also a clock or may have had a pendulum. I believe it did, but I wasn’t able to find photographic evidence.