Friday, November 20, 2009

New Orleans 1964

In 1964, the New Orleans firm of Curtis & Davis was commissioned to design additions to its large combined Junior-Senior High School, George Washington Carver (1957-58). Located at 3019 Edna Street, the structure had been featured in Samuel Wilson, Jr.'s important A Guide to Architecture of New Orleans 1699-1959, published by the Louisiana Landmarks Society in 1960. Above is the cover sheet sketch for the firm's set of drawings related to the proposed additions.

Arthur Q. Davis recently wrote about the project in his book, It Happened by Design:

"One of the largest educational institutions designed by our firm was the George Washington Carver Elementary, Junior, and Senior High School. The Orleans Parish School Board commissioned us to design a senior high school on a large tract of land of approximately fifty acres. A portion of the site was to be set aside for a junior high which would later be designed by another architect, and perhaps later another portion of the site would be spun off of for an elementary school. We advised the school board that we did not believe that this was the most practical or expeditious way to use the site. If the junior and senior highs could be combined, they could share kitchen and cafeteria facilities and have one first-class auditorium instead of two smaller, less useful ones. A small auditorium could not provide a stage loft and the backstage area needed for a first-class high school auditorium--one which could also be available to the community for evening productions. The same would apply to the gymnasiums. We could build a much larger and much more efficient gymnasium if it were to serve the two schools." (pp. 17-18).

Indeed, the Carver auditoriums as designed could serve a variety of functions. The large auditorium was designed to seat 1,478 (main floor capacity 1,046; balcony 432); the small auditorium could accommodate an audience of 493. If you want to read more about C & D school projects, check out Arthur Q. Davis's It Happened by Design (University Press of Mississippi, 2009), available in multiple Tulane University Libraries.

The Recovery School District plans to demolish the building.

Image above: Curtis and Davis, firm. Detail of cover sheet sketch, proposed additions to George Washington Carver Junior-Senior High School, 3019 Edna Street, 1964. © Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries. Do not reproduce without written permission.

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