A visual history of McDonogh 11

Built circa 1879, McDonogh 11 School building was demolished in June 2021 despite years of effort to save it.
Explore the building’s history below.


Designed by: William A. Freret, Jr., architect of numerous buildings now on the National Register of Historic Places.

Size: Approximately 23,000 square feet as built. The first floor was removed as the building was transported from its original location to make way for a new state and federal medical campus in Mid-City. The remaining two floors totaled 15,840 square feet.

Location: Original location was 2009 Palmyra St. The building was moved for the hospital project and eventually placed at 201 S. Claiborne Ave. (at Cleveland Avenue) on a temporary foundation.

Image courtesy New Orleans Public Library


Over the years

Photos by Infrogmation of New Orleans, December 2010.

Uses: McDonogh 11 was a public school. It was integrated in 1961. From the 1980s to 2005, it was renamed and served as the New Orleans Center for Health Careers. Then, from 2007 to 2010, it was home to the Priestly School of Architecture and Construction.

Rehabilitation (Post Katrina): After the storm, the building received a $3 million FEMA-funded renovation.  Before it was moved during the demolition of the lower Mid-City neighborhood, a building inspection by Gurtler Brothers, dated Oct. 14, 2011, said, “The property generally is in serviceable condition overall.”


Lower Mid-City razed

State and federal plans to build a new medical campus in Mid-City after Hurricane Katrina resulted in the demolition of many homes and other buildings in the lower Mid-City neighborhood.

“The twin hospitals would consume nearly 70 acres of a national historic district, obliterating the Deutsches Haus, a German cultural center; the former McDonogh No. 11 school, a landmark that dates to 1879; and scores of classic shotgun- and sidehall-style homes, including four that were renovated after Katrina with $45,000 in historic preservation grants from the state,” reporter Kate Moran wrote in a February 2008 article in The Times-Picayune.

This neighborhood’s fate was tragic on many levels. Residents who had rebuilt their homes and lives post-Katrina had their houses seized by the state and destroyed to make way for the medical complex. As a concession to angry citizens, the City of New Orleans attempted to save a few of the neighborhood’s homes; most were improperly relocated, and fell apart.


McDonogh 11 is moved

The preservation of McDonogh 11 school building was one of the few concessions the state was asked to make in exchange for being allowed to destroy historic Lower Mid-City. Since assuming control of the site from the State Division of Administration, LSU’s board did nothing to protect or preserve it. The promise wasn’t kept. The building was moved to its final place in 2013.
Photos by Chris Granger, courtesy of The Times-Picayune.

Relocation: Beginning in late 2011, the building was moved three times within the hospital footprint; the initial move reportedly cost $320,000, but total costs may have been higher. According to an April 2012 article in The Atlantic by Anne Gisleson, the school is the “largest building ever to be moved in the state of Louisiana and one of the largest ever moved in the country.” 


Decaying for a decade



June 2021
Photos by Liz Jurey

On June 23, 2021, demolition began on McDonogh 11, the 142-year-old school building that has sat vacant on the side of Interstate 10 for nearly a decade, despite years of effort by the PRC and other preservation organizations to save it.