Friday, October 3, 2008

Diamonds and Rust

Joan Baez's lyrics come to mind on the demolition site of the International Longshoremen's Association Meeting Hall: "We both know what memories can bring. They bring diamonds and rust."

Designed by the New Orleans firm of Lawrence and Saunders and commissioned by legendary union leader Clarence "Chink" Henry, the General Longshore Workers Local 1419 was the site of some of the city's most significant events of the third quarter of the twentieth century. Built for an initial cost of $500,000 with an elaborate exterior truss system and sheathed in Vermont verde antique and marble, the ILA 1419 Hall originally was home to a vast membership of the region's black longshoremen. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference held meetings here, the longshoremen conducted classes to instruct ILA members on how to vote, and they rented their auditorium space out to the city's gay community for its Mardi Gras balls.

Faced with extensive renovation costs and a significantly diminished membership, the longshoremen recently voted to demolish their structure. The lovely Vermont verde antique and other elements are being salvaged to create a monument to the New Orleans longshoremen. Flickr user anthonyturducken has posted images of the hall here.

Dedicated September 1959, razed October 2008.

[Photographs: Top
: General Longshore Workers Local 3000. 03.10.2008 by K. Rylance; Bottom: Lawrence and Saunders (architects), ILA Local 1419. 2700 S. Claiborne, 1959. As photographed by Frank Lotz Miller. Lawrence and Saunders Firm Brochure, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries]

They bring diamonds and rust

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