For decades, the elegant schoolhouse stood vacant on Gravier Street in Mid-City, with boarded windows and a deteriorating brick facade providing a stark contrast to the building’s lively past. Built as the McDonogh 30 School, and later used as the WYLD radio station studio, the site had been abandoned for nearly 20 years and had sustained damage from multiple hurricanes.
Today, the building’s rehabilitation is underway, and the site will soon have another chance at a sustainable future — this time as an apartment building. On Thursday, March 14, the PRC will get an insider’s look at the renovation of this neighborhood landmark while enjoying happy hour drinks. We hope you’ll join us to see the transformation.
Built in 1894, the McDonogh 30 School building incorporated an eclectic mix of late Victorian-era architectural styles. The Italianate style is the building’s most prevalent, with arched windows and decorative cast iron window hoods as well as elaborate parapets that once adorned the facade. Other original building features related to different architectural styles were removed over the years: rounded Romanesque-style turrets were originally located at the front corners of the building; an Eastlake-style porch with rich millwork was originally located at the entrance; and a Neoclassical-style frieze with bands of swag applique was originally located beneath the parapets.
The first photograph, taken in 1895, shows the building’s original architectural features. The second photograph, c.1940, shows that the Eastlake-style porch and conical turret tops had been removed.
The historic features that were lost over the years — the porch, turrets with conical tops and parapets with an ornamental frieze — will all be replicated during the building’s rehabilitation to restore the building to its original 1894 appearance.
The building housed McDonogh 30 from 1894 until the late 1930s, and then spent several decades as various city offices and a police training division. In 1953, the building reopened as a school until closing permanently in 1976 and sitting vacant for a decade. Local radio station WYLD — one of the New Orleans’ oldest and most influential African-American-owned radio stations — moved its studios to the building in the 1980s and called the property home for several years. After WYLD moved its studios again several years later, the building became vacant again and laid dormant for almost two decades.
The historic building deteriorated while sitting vacant for nearly 20 years, but a rehabilitation is currently underway to return the building to its former grandeur. Google maps imagery from 2015.
Thanks to state and federal historic tax credits, as well as work from architecture firm Rome Office and general contractor CDW Services, owners Gordon McLeod and Paul and Kristen Leonard are rehabilitating the vacant building for residential use. An easement will be donated to the Preservation Resource Center, ensuring the long-term preservation of the building well into the future.
Don’t miss this chance to see this beautiful building as it undergoes this extensive renovation.