This story appeared in the June issue of PRC’s Preservation in Print magazine. Interested in getting more preservation stories like this delivered to your door nine times a year? Become a member of the PRC for a subscription!
Ready for some good news? So far this year, the National Park Service has added seven historic resources in Louisiana to the National Register of Historic Places, and the nomination of an additional resource — the Pontchartrain Park Historic District — is being reviewed and could be added soon.
The newly-added resources, which include individual buildings, historic districts and one reclassification of a property within an existing historic district, range in age and architectural style but largely date from the middle of the 20th century. They cover a wide variety of Louisiana’s unique cultural and architectural history, including segregation, the dairy and petroleum industries, education and the rich architectural history of our state.
In central Louisiana, Sabine High School in Many is one of the new listings. The school is locally significant under Criterion A in the areas of education and ethnic heritage because it provided important educational opportunities for African-Americans in Sabine Parish. First founded as the Sabine Parish Training School in 1928, the campus has a long history at its location on Highland Avenue. An eight-teacher Rosenwald school had served the African-American community of Many and the surrounding parish on the site for almost 40 years when the existing buildings were constructed. The new school, termed an equalization era school, provided a superb quality of education for African-American students, many of whom would go on to pursue undergraduate, master’s and doctorate degrees. The school complex consists of eight buildings, six of which are arranged in a finger plan connected by breezeways, dating to 1957 and circa 1960.
In the lower half of the state, there are four new listings, including Borden Dairy in Baton Rouge; a boundary increase for the Southern University Historic District in Baton Rouge; the Harvey Andrew Peltier, Sr. House in Thibodaux; and the Humble Oil Camp Historic District in Grand Isle.
Photo 1: Sabine High School in Many is locally significant in the areas of education and ethnic heritage because it provided important educational opportunities for African Americans in Sabine Parish. Though the current campus was built beginning in 1957, the history of the school dates back to 1928.
Photo 2: The 1938 Harvey Peltier, Sr. House is locally significant as an important residential example of the neoclassical style in Thibodaux. Photos courtesy of the Louisiana Division of Historic Preservation.
The Borden Dairy manufacturing and distribution plant is listed at the local level under Criterion A in the areas of commerce and industry as the primary dairy plant in East Baton Rouge Parish in the mid-20th century, when dairying flourished as an industry both locally and statewide. As the largest milk distributor in the United States, Borden’s decision to open one of its first Louisiana plants in Baton Rouge in the early 1940s reflected the city’s increasing importance as an industrial hub. In addition to serving the growing Baton Rouge market, this plant also became the main dairy supply center for much of Louisiana, and to fulfill this role, it underwent major expansions in the 1950s and 1960s. The original facility and some of the later additions were designed by renowned Louisiana architect A. Hays Town.
The Southern University Historic District, originally listed in 1999 at the state level under Criterion A in the areas of education and ethnic heritage, included seven buildings that represent the pre-1949 history of the university. The boundary increase adds five contributing buildings, including an auditorium/gymnasium, three dormitories and an infirmary, all previously thought to be built after 1949. It also adds the Mississippi River bluff on which the campus was established as a contributing site.
The Harvey Andrew Peltier, Sr. House is listed at the local level under Criterion C in the area of architecture as an outstanding example of the neoclassical style in Thibodaux. The house was built for Harvey Peltier, Sr., an attorney, banker and businessman who served as state representative and senator as well as campaign manager for Huey P. Long. Peltier saw financial success in banking, oil and horse breeding, and he commissioned a large new house in his hometown of Thibodaux around 1938. The home’s form and ornamentation, both exterior and interior, exemplify the neoclassical style and make it one of the few residential examples of the style in the surrounding area.
The Humble Oil Camp Historic District in Grand Isle is listed at the local level under Criterion A in the area of industry and Criterion C in the area of architecture. It is a rare surviving example of residential housing for the mid-20th-century offshore petroleum industry. The district includes 13 contributing buildings on the only intact block remaining of a complex that was once much larger. The buildings, constructed circa 1965, are elevated a full story and feature nearly identical forms and plans with minor variations. The district is listed under the Multiple-Property Submission Louisiana Coastal Vernacular: Grand Isle 1780-1968 for the adaptation of the building type to the local vernacular and environmental conditions.
Finishing up the state’s early 2020 listings in New Orleans, two properties have been listed or reclassified: McCrory’s Five-and-Dime and the Norwegian Seamen’s Church. The former McCrory’s Five-and-Dime on Canal Street is already included in the Vieux Carré Historic District but was considered non-contributing because of an extensive remodel that occurred around 1937, later than the district’s period of significance. The property was reclassified and is now considered a contributing element based on individual eligibility under Criterion A in the area of ethnic heritage as the location of a September 1960 lunch counter sit-in by the “CORE Four,” a group of university students participating in protests organized by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). The participants were Xavier University student Rudy Lombard, Southern University at New Orleans student Oretha Castle, Dillard University student Cecil W. Carter, Jr. and Tulane University student Sydney Goldfinch, Jr. All four were arrested, convicted and charged under Louisiana criminal mischief laws. This led to the landmark 1963 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Lombard vs. Louisiana, which reversed their convictions and affirmed their right to protest. The property is also individually eligible under Criterion C in the area of architecture for its circa 1937 façade. The building in its current form is an important surviving example of the modern movement in architecture on the premier shopping and entertainment street in the city and in the adjacent central business district.
Photo 1: The Humble Oil Camp Historic District in Grand Isle is a rare surviving example of residential housing for the mid-20th-century offshore petroleum industry in Louisiana.
Photo 2: The Norwegian Seamen’s Church in New Orleans is locally significant in the area of architecture. The 1968 church building combines modernism with references to traditional Norwegian church forms and architectural elements. Photos courtesy of the Louisiana Division of Historic Preservation.
The Norwegian Seamen’s Church is listed at the local level under Criterion C in the area of architecture. Its combination of modernist ideals and references to traditional Norwegian architectural forms and elements make it an important early example of postmodern architecture in New Orleans. The facility, located in the Lower Garden District and constructed in 1968, was built for the Norwegian Church Abroad and replaced its earlier facility on the same site. It served as a church, a residence for Scandinavian seafarers and a social and cultural hub for the Norwegian community of New Orleans. The distinctive building was designed by lifelong congregant and engineer Nils Erling Hansen, who grew up in New Orleans and whose annual travel to his parents’ native Norway provided inspiration for his design.
One final nomination, the much-anticipated Pontchartrain Park Historic District, is under review with the National Park Service. This district is nominated at the local level under Criterion A in the areas of community planning/development and ethnic heritage. The neighborhood embodies the mid-century suburban movement that was seen nationwide in architectural form and urban planning. The history of redlining and other racially-motivated public policy, in post-World-War-II politics generally and housing policy specifically, created a community unique in New Orleans and rare in the United States. Despite significant damage incurred during and after Hurricane Katrina, the neighborhood as a whole remains eligible for listing in the National Register. Keep an eye on the Louisiana Division of Historic Preservation and the Preservation Resource Center’s social media for notification when a decision is made.
Of the seven recently listed resources, at least three are in the process of or will be pursuing rehabilitation tax incentives. This drives home the close relationship that the National Register and tax incentive programs maintain as well as how successful the partnership between the two programs has been. More information on each of these nominations can be found in the Louisiana Division of Historic Preservation’s National Register Database at www.crt.state.la.us/dataprojectsVS/NRHP. For more information about the National Register process in Louisiana, visit www.louisianahp.org and click National Register.
Emily Ardoin is the National Register Coordinator for the Louisiana Division of Historic Preservation.