Save the Carrollton Courthouse

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  • 3/21/2017: Nola.com article - Has Carrollton Courthouse been Saved by the Bell? - by Danielle Dreilinger: 

    The Orleans Parish School Board is poised to auction off the historic Carrollton Courthouse Thursday (March 23). But a 60-year-old legal clause might block the controversial sale.

    When the Orleans Parish School Board bought the property from the City of New Orleans in 1957, it came with a requirement: "All of said property herein transferred is hereby declared to be dedicated exclusively to school purposes," the act of sale says.... READ MORE HERE.

  • 3/21/2017: 2016 Carrollton Courthouse Appraisal - Click Here.
  • 3/14/2017: Today, Louisiana Landmarks Society sent a letter to Lt. Billy Nungesser addressing 3 main points:
    • The auction be deferred so as not to rush into this ---
    • That “use” and the public interests be considered as part of the bidding process
    • That if the auction is to proceed, a covenant must accompanied the act of sale to protect the historic elements – protections provided by HDLC review are not enough for a site of this significance.
  • 3/14/2017: Check out this website: www.carrolltoncourthouse.com  - KEEP IT PUBLIC, delay the auction.
  • 2/27/2017: Louisiana Landmarks Society's Conservation Easement Request Letter to Orleans Parish School Board - FULL LETTER HERE.
  • 1/29/2016: CLICK HERE: The Tulane-LSU Design Partnership Website dedicated to consolidating the information generated during their study, to better inform community members and stakeholders about the history, context, and evolution of the Carrollton Courthouse.
  • 1/28/2016: Tulane-LSU Design Partnership Presentation announced for January 28, on Tulane's campus at Richard Memorial Hall, Room 201, from 6 - 8pm. Open and FREE to the public. Louisiana Landmarks Society in collaboration with the Tulane Master of Preservation Studies program and the LSU Reich School of Landscape Architecture will host a student-led presentation on documenting,restoring, preserving, and re-using the Carrollton Courthouse.  Tulane Professor Michael Shoriak and LSU Professor Lake Douglas worked with their students to develop ideas that incorporate community uses of the building and green space of one of the City’s most distinguished landmarks.
  • 9/23/2015: ANNOUNCEMENT: Tulane-LSU Design Partnership Examines Futures for Carrollton Courthouse as Continuing Campaign to Save Courthouse Led by Louisiana Landmarks Society -
  • 7/29/2015 : A Public Forum hosted by Louisiana Landmarks about the future use of the courthouse.  

  • 6/24/2015: National Trust for Historic Preservation lists the Carrollton Courthouse as one of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places - NTHP press release below:

Washington (June 24, 2015) –The National Trust for Historic Preservation has named the Carrollton Courthouse in New Orleans to its 2015 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. This annual list spotlights important examples of the nation’s architectural, cultural and natural heritage that are at risk of destruction or irreparable damage. More than 250 sites have been on the list over its 28-year history, and in that time, only a handful of listed sites have been lost.

The Carrollton Courthouse served as the seat of government for Jefferson Parish until the City of Carrollton was annexed by New Orleans in 1874. Now, this stately Greek Revival building, designed by one of New Orleans’ most noteworthy architects, Henry Howard, is threatened with an uncertain future as the Orleans Parish School Board prepares to sell it with no preservation safeguards in place.

“The Carrollton Courthouse is a beloved landmark with a rich tradition of serving the community,” said Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “It deserves to have a special place in New Orleans’ future. We urge the Orleans Parish School Board to join preservationists in planning the next phase for the Carrolton Courthouse to ensure its legacy continues.”

The courthouse is an important public building from Carrollton’s days as an independent city and is one of the city’s most significant landmarks located outside of the French Quarter. In the early 1950s, the community and the nonprofit group Louisiana Landmarks Society staved off a demolition threat that led to the courthouse’s rebirth as a school. From 1957 to 2013, it housed a series of public schools, including Benjamin Franklin High School, the first New Orleans public high school to integrate in 1963. Musicians Wynton and Delfeayo Marsalis and actor Wendell Pierce are among Ben Franklin’s famous graduates.

Members of the public are invited to learn more about what they can do to support these 11 historic places and hundreds of other endangered sites at www.PreservationNation.org/places

Donate now to help with our efforts!

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The Carrollton Courthouse is the central iconic symbol of Carrollton, an area of the City of New Orleans that was once a separate city. The Courthouse was built over 160 years ago and is one of the most historically significant buildings in New Orleans outside of the French Quarter. In its long history it has served as the seat of government for Jefferson Parish, 120 plus years as a New Orleans public school, and as an informal community center for the Carrollton area.

On March 10, 1845. the City of Carrollton was incorporated in Jefferson Parish, the jurisdiction neighboring the City of New Orleans which had its seat of government in the town of Lafayette (now the Garden District in New Orleans).  In 1855, after the expanding City of New Orleans annexed the town of Lafayette, the City of Carrollton became the seat of government for Jefferson Parish.

In accordance with its new status, the City of Carrollton needed a courthouse and jail. The site chosen was the square in which Andrew Jackson had given a speech in 1840 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans. During the War of 1812, the Carrollton area had served as a marshaling area, training facility, and Jackson's rear headquarters during his defense of the Gulf and the Battle of New Orleans.

The famous New Orleans architect, Henry Howard, designed the Carrollton Courthouse. Howard is well known as the architect who designed, among many other homes and buildings, Madewood and Nottoway Plantations. The Courthouse was completed in late 1855, although not all of Howard's architectural details were incorporated into the completed building.

Carrollton remained the seat of government for Jefferson Parish until 1874 when it, too, was annexed by the City of New Orleans. During those 19 years, the Carrollton Court House was the scene of many interesting criminal and civil cases.

Upon the dissolution of the City of Carrollton in 1874, title to the building passed to Jefferson Parish. In 1888 Jefferson Parish transferred title to the City of New Orleans. In 1889, the City in turn transferred title to the McDonogh Trust, a trust set up by philanthropist John McDonogh to establish public schools in Baltimore and New Orleans. The building became one of the public schools funded by the Trust, McDonogh No. 23, until it closed in 1950.

Following the closure of McDonough 23, the A&P grocery chain approached the Orleans Parish School Board with a proposal to raze the Courthouse for a grocery store and parking lot. A coalition of Carrollton residents led by Carrollton businessman, Charles Meynier, and the newly-formed Louisiana Landmark Society opposed the demolition. The demolition proposal was eventually defeated. During this period the Courthouse informally served as a “community-recreation center.”

With the aid of a federal “sputnik school grant,” the building was renovated and became the site of Benjamin Franklin High School in 1957. Franklin High School was the City's first public college preparatory school. In the fall of 1963, Franklin became the first New Orleans public high school to integrate. The Courthouse served as the location of the school until March 1990 when Franklin moved to its present location on the campus of the University of New Orleans.

Following Franklin's departure, two Orleans Parish secondary schools used the building and surrounding campus. Lusher Middle School used the building from 1990 until it moved to the former Fortier site in 2006. Audubon Charter School used the site from 2006 until 2013. Since 2013, the building and surrounding site have been vacant. 

THREAT

The Carrollton Courthouse is again threatened as the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) prepares to auction the property to the highest bidder with no safeguards in place to retain the historic building. A prior appraisal included an assumption that the property would be vacant for redevelopment. Currently, the OPSB is having the property reappraised, and can proceed at any time to have the property demolished. This property embodies a significant piece of history as well as important architecture. It has served the public as a courthouse, community gathering place, and/or school since its construction in 1855. Without conditions attached to its sale, along with public input, the building stands at risk for any number of inappropriate actions, including demolition. Raising public awareness and action now can stave off future unsuitable consequences. 

Landmarks is joined by the Foundation for Historical Louisiana, and neighborhood organizations that surround the property including Maple Area Residents, Inc., Uptown Triangle Neighborhood Association, Calhoun Palmer Neighborhood Association, Carrollton-Riverbend Neighborhood Association, Old Carrollton Concerned Neighbors, Audubon Boulevard Parkway Association, Central Carrollton Association, Carrollton Area Network and Benjamin Franklin Alumni Association– with more joining as groups are alerted to the issue.

Petition to Save the Carrollton Courthouse 

I support the Carrollton Courthouse, and urge all local, state, and national officials to act to preserve, protect, and restore this historic building and to conserve the surrounding green space for public use and community benefit. 

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You can also order a yard sign to show your support of this intiative and spread the word. To get your sign, email info@louisianalandmarks.org.