Holy Cross, as well as the rest of the Lower Ninth Ward, offers a variety of interesting sites and activities for both residents and tourists. It’s easy to spend hours just wandering around the neighborhood or along the levee. If you wish to take photos while you are here, please be respectful of neighbors’ privacy and ask for permission if you would like to include people in your pictures.
939 Deslonde St.
As the plaque on the front indicates, this house is the former home of George “Kid Shiek” Colar, a cornetist, trumpeter and pianist who lived here from 1940 to 1988. Colar was a member of the Eureka Brass Band and Olympia Brass Band, among others.
Fats Domino’s House
The former home of Fat’s Domino, one of rock ‘n roll’s first stars and a lifelong resident of the Ninth Ward, is just across St. Claude on Caffin Street. Domino rode out Katrina at his home and although it was rumored that he perished in the storm, he was rescued by helicopter. You can drive by the house, which is unmistakably his, but it is not open to the public, so please be respectful.
House of Dance & Feathers
1317 Tupelo St.
This museum celebrates the culture of Mardi Gras Indians, Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs and Skull & Bone Gangs. The museum is open by appointment only. Call 504-957-2678 to set up a time. There is no admission fee, and the museum relies on donations to support its mission. Visit the website for more information.
Jackson Barracks, which houses the Louisiana National Guard, borders the lower end of Holy Cross. It houses the Ansel M. Stroud, Jr. Military and Weapons Museum. Admission is free, but donations are requested to help fund the exhibits.
Ken Layne Home
5107 N. Rampart St.
Writer, publisher and broadcaster Ken Layne lived at his grandmother’s house in Holy Cross as a child in the 1960’s. He graciously contributed some comments about life in the neighborhood during a different era when Fats Domino was a regular at the neighborhood store, schools were being integrated and the racial mix was changing. Read more.
lowernine.org is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the long-term recovery of the Lower Ninth Ward in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The group welcomes all individuals and groups, regardless of skill-level, to volunteer. Training and tools are provided. Monetary donations are also accepted. Learn more.
McDonogh 19 Original Site
Douglas and Tricou Sts.
John McDonogh was a 19th century businessman who was born in Baltimore and spent most of his life as a businessman and plantation owner in New Orleans. When he died in 1850, he left half of his enormous estate to the cities of Baltimore and New Orleans “for the establishment and support of Free Schools … wherein the poor of both sexes of all Classes and Castes of Color, shall have admittance, free of expense for the purpose of being instructed….” According to the New Orleans Public Library, the school was “established in 1884-1885 as a grammar and primary school for white boys and girls. It was a one story frame building with basement, six classrooms and a capacity of 279 pupils.” The school operated at this location until about 1829, when the new school was opened at 5909 St. Claude Ave. The property sustained damage as a result of Katrina and sits vacant today.
5909 St. Claude Ave.
Built in 1929, McDonogh 19 is listed in the National Register of Historic Places due to its role in desegregation. On Nov. 14, 1960, the same day that Ruby Bridges made national news as the first black child to attend the Frantz School in the Upper Ninth Ward, three black girls known as the McDonogh Three – Leona Tate, Tessie Prevost, and Gail Etienne – entered McDonogh 19. Learn more.
Today the Leona Tate Foundation seeks to preserve the building, which was damaged after Katrina, as a memorial and create an exhibition site to document the struggle for civil rights in New Orleans. Learn more.
Ninth Ward Rebirth Bike Tours
Take a four-hour guided bike tour through the Lower Ninth Ward, meeting the locals and learning first-hand about the history and people of the area and why rebuilding it is so important. A portion of the tour fee is donated to local charities. The tour includes a stop at the House of Dance and Feathers and a lunch break. Get more information.
1008 Jourdan Ave.
This historic building, which is visible as you cross the St. Claude bridge, has seen better days. Dedicated on Feb. 2, 1901, it is best known as the school where McDonogh Three (see McDonogh 19, above) attended beginning in third grade, along with 20 other black students. Life Magazine published a famous photo of white and black children playing together. (See photo # 33) It was later bought by a nonprofit that did not return after Katrina, and has been vacant and untended since. It was auctioned at sheriff’s sale in 2017 and is expected to be renovated as affordable senior housing. The building has appeared in a few scenes of NCIS: New Orleans and some music videos. While it’s worth a drive by, it is in very unstable condition, so do not attempt to enter. View some photos of the school in the 1950s.
The ornate Victorian wooden houses on Egania St. at the levee were designed by Paul Doullut to remind him of the ships that he and his wife captained. He built the one by the levee in 1905 for himself and the one across the street in 1913 for his son. The houses were designated as historic landmarks in 1977.
5229 Dauphine St., 504-309-6391
Folks from all over New Orleans come to Café Dauphine for the delicious Southern cuisine in a casual chic atmosphere. Find out what everybody’s raving about. View the menu and learn more about this Holy Cross treasure.
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