Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Changing Hands on Carondelet

A large number of properties along Carondelet Street changed hands in the years between 1920 and 1930. A series of residential lots came up at auction in the summer of 1923 (map shown above), and by 1926, the Presbyterian Hospital Group (PHG) expanded its existing holdings by purchasing adjacent Baronne Street lots for a new medical complex.

The PHG retained the services of New Orleans architect Rathbone DeBuys (c. 1874-1960) to design a "skyscraper type" hospital. (1) He and Charles Armstrong (1887-1947) had designed an earlier PHG structure, the Corinne Casanas Free Clinic, in 1915 (814-820 Girod Street, completed 1916). After various revisions, his PHG skyscraper hospital resulted in a single five-story structure, named the James H. Batchelor Building, which was completed in June 1928. Built at a cost of $200K, the fireproof building contained an elevator and was sheathed in limestone with polychromed "marble" embellishments. (2)

In 1930, the School Board -- then operating out of the City Hall Annex -- successfully negotiated the acquisition of the Casanas Clinic and the Batchelor Building, and relocated to the latter in January 1931. Rathbone DeBuys' building is now named after former School Superintendent Nicholas Bauer.

Image above: Advertisement, The Times-Picayune 6 October 1923, p. 35.

(1) "Presbyterian Hospital Buys Three Old Homes." The Times-Picayune 14 February 1926, p. 13.

(2) Although DeBuys designed the building, the Albert Weiblen Marble and Granite Works supplied the ornamental stone carvings. Its staff architect, Albert Rieker (1887-1959), developed the requisite drawings. The Southeastern Architectural Archive retains a cartoon for Rieker's stone caduceus in Collection 39 The Albert Weiblen Marble & Granite Works Office Records. Consult the Archive's online inventories here.

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