The University Section of Uptown
Diverse and full of history, this popular neighborhood is a blend of stately homes and rowdy frat houses.
The University neighborhood, a small sliver of Uptown named for the various colleges and universities that exist within its boundaries, stretches along St. Charles Avenue roughly from Broadway to Calhoun streets.
Its distinctive architecture ranges from the Gothic buildings of Tulane and Loyola universities to the grand mansions that line St. Charles Avenue. There are also modest shotgun homes and cottages scattered around the perimeter of the section.
But its most striking landmark –– right across the street from the two universities –– is probably Audubon Park. Carved out of a part of the Foucher plantation where Etienne de Bore first successfully granulated sugar, the land was used for the 1884 World’s Fair World Cotton Centennial. Today, its nearby residents enjoy biking, jogging, walking their dogs and strolling in the park, which stretches all the way to Magazine Street to encompass the Audubon Zoo. The famous St. Charles Avenue streetcar line bisects Audubon Park and its opulent mansions just across the avenue.
Audubon Place, a private street fronted by a guardhouse, is just across the streetcar tracks from the park. Its most prominent home is the large white mansion fronting St. Charles Avenue traditionally occupied by the president of Tulane University.
The University section of Uptown was developed during the 19th century. Several sections of Uptown were originally developed as separate towns, such as Lafayette, Jefferson City, Greenville and Carrollton, but all were eventually annexed by New Orleans as the city expanded upriver.
Residents arrived from all parts of the United States to settle in the University section during the 19th century, joined by immigrants from Italy, Ireland and Germany. St. Charles Avenue was the city’s “millionaire’s row” during this time, and a good number of the architecturally significant old mansions from this era still stand, even though some have now been converted into revenue-producing apartments.
Although the University section is stately and refined, “Fraternity Row” along Broadway Street towards Claiborne Avenue tends to give it a slightly raucous flavor. House after house along Broadway has been renovated into fraternity quarters, and at Freret Street sits a cluster of businesses catering to the University communities.
Even so, thanks to the grandeur of the homes along St. Charles Avenue, this area was once called the “Silk-Stocking Ward,” a term that alluded to the wealth and opulence of its residents. Although homeowners are more diverse today, the University section retains its reputation as an upper-class neighborhood boasting a bastion of diverse and distinctive architecture.
Condos in store
If you’re a woman of a certain age who was raised in New Orleans, you probably remember shopping at Krauss Department Store on the corner of Basin and Canal streets. I myself remember my father’s paying my mother’s Krauss bill every single month of their long married life.
Shoppers of all stripes flocked to Krauss because the six-story department store –– opened in 1903 –– had everything you could possibly want, including furniture, clothes and appliances.
Krauss unfortunately closed in the 1990s, a victim of changing buying habits and more modern shopping venues. However, New Orleanians are once again able to occupy the floors that made up this venerable department store.
An extensive renovation that was begun before Hurricane Katrina is once again under way by the KFK Group to turn Krauss into the 1201 Canal Street Condominiums. The front building is being renovated into 121 apartments and the back building, the former warehouse, into 119 condominiums.
The conversion to condos takes full advantage of the high ceilings and hardwood floors of the original structure. They’ve added stainless steel kitchen appliances, granite countertops and high-speed Internet access.
Condos are available starting at 563 square feet for $159,000 and going up to 2,670 square feet for just under $1.1 million. Units offer one bedroom, one bath and a study all the way up to four bedrooms, three baths and a patio in the penthouse.
Listing agents for 1201 Canal Street Condominiums are Lynne Mire at 458-1968 and Erin Stopak at 723-0237 with Talbot Realty Group. Check KFK’s Web site at www.1201Canal.com or call 585-1535.