Tag Archives: New Orleans

New Orleans, Louisiana – Metairie Cemetery – Lucien Napoleon Brunswig

26 Jul

Entrance Brunswig Mausoleum

Metairie Cemetery, in New Orleans, is one of those fascinating places that will capture your imagination even if you don’t have one!  The tombs are very interesting and many are great examples of various types of architecture, which always provides for a great cemetery visit.  On the other hand the tombs hold individuals and many of those individuals led distinguished and productive lives. Their stories are sometimes lost amongst the grand views of the tombs.

One of the most visited and photographed places in Metairie Cemetery stands near the rear of the older part of the cemetery.  The outstanding Egyptian influences of the Brunswig Mausoleum are very worthy of attention. The pyramid mausoleum  has attracted visitors for over a century.   A woman and a sphinx figure stand on either side of bronze gates that seal the tomb and they have been photographed a million times. Those figures have become synonymous with the tomb , but  what about the man that lends his name to this well known tomb – that man was Lucien Napoleon Brunswig.

Lucien Napoleon Brunswig was born in Montmedy, France, in 1854, and was educated at the  College of Etain. Apparently Brunswig thought his future lay in the United States and he came to the U.S. in 1871.  He found work as an apprentice to a U.S druggist. In 1875 Brunswig opened his own drug store in Atchison, Kansas. After a year of business he sold his drug store and moved to Fort Worth, Texas.

In Fort Worth Brunswig opened a new drug store that not only sold retail but also dealt with wholesale pharmaceuticals.  Within 5 years the business was producing $350,000 in annual sales.  Business took Lucien to many places and one of those places was Independence, Missouri.  There he met and married  Annie Mercer. The newly married couple made their home in Fort Worth and they soon added children.

In 1882, George Finlay, the owner of a well-established wholesale drug firm in New Orleans invited Brunswig to join him as a partner. Brunswig sold his Fort Worth business and joined Finlay in the firm of Finlay and Brunswig.  In 1885 Finlay died and Lucien Brunswig took over the entire wholesale drug firm which then became L. N. Brunswig and Company. In 1887 he took on a partner by the name of F.W. Braun.

Lucien and Annie had 5 children – 3 girls and 2 boys.  The year of 1892 became a pivotal year for Lucien N. Brunswig.  That year marked the death of one of his young sons – a son who also bore the name of Lucien N. Brunswig.  This death was a terrible blow to Annie Brunswig.  The child’s death was too much for her to handle.  She declined in health and within a month she too was dead.

Lucien Brunswig moved on with life. Prior to the death of his wife and child Brunswig had been looking toward the west.  In 1887 Braun was dispatched to Los Angeles, California, and within a year a prosperous business was established.  In 1890, while Brunswig was still in New Orleans, he sent Braun to San Diego to set up a branch office.  In short order another prosperous branch office was operating under the name of F.W. Braun.

Braun believed that the future of his company was in the west.  In 1903 Brunswig, and his family, which included his second wife and another child, moved to Los Angeles so he could preside over the company.  In 1907 Bruswig bought out Braun and the business was renamed Brunswig Drug Company.  At this time he also sold his company in New Orleans.

Established in Los Angeles the Brunswig Drug Company grew at a phenomenal rate.  The company became the leading pharmaceutical distributor in the western U.S.   The company also eventually expanded to many countries in the Pacific realm.  His company also took on new products such as cosmetics.  The business would boom during World War 1 due to its geographical location.

In 1917 Brunswig found himself too old for military service in World War 1 as he was 63.  Still he went to his native France and served 8 months for the “Friends of France.”  On his return from France he continued to be involved with helping those that had been impacted by the war.  This was just the tip of the iceberg in his service to his local community and to his country and to his homeland.  While in Los Angeles Brunswig served as Director,  Bureau of Americanization; Director of a number of Franco-American Relief Societies during World War 1; Chairman, Pacific Coast States American Field Ambulance Service; Chairman, Pacific Coast, Fatherless Children of France;  Chairman, American Committee for Devastated France; President, Alliance Francaise;  President, Lafayette Society of California; Delegated by the Minister of Public Instruction in France to co-operate in the scholarships for young French students to American Universities and Colleges; Director of the College des Etats Unis, in Paris; and he served as Chairman for the Sunshine Houses of France for the U.S.A.

While he lived in New Orleans he served as a Police Commissioner in New Orleans from 1895-1899; Vice-president, Anthenee Louisianais; Member, Louisiana Historical Society; President, French Society; and served as Vice-President for the Board of Trade.

While in Los Angeles he also co founded the Pharmacy Department at the University of Southern California.  He traveled extensively in Europe and to other places in the world.  While traveling he amassed a personal library of over 6,000 volumes.  Some of these were original transcripts obtained from monasteries in Europe and he even collected an original transcript from William Penn.  Brunswig donated over 1,000 volumes from his collection to the University of Southern California.

Lucien Napoleon Brunswig died in 1943 and his body was interred in Metairie Cemetery in New Orleans. But what happened to his Drug Company?  In 1969 Brunswig Drug Company merged with Bergen Drug Company to form Bergen-Brunswig.  This company in turn merged with the AmeriSource Health Corporation in 2001 to from AmerisourceBergen.  Last year AmerisourceBergen ranked 24th on the Fortune 500 list and employed 10,000 employees.  Sales for the Corporation were $78 billion.  What a testament to Mr. Brunswig!

Today we marvel at the structure in which Lucien N. Brunswig is interred but very few of us know anything at all about his life.  Indeed the tomb now houses his body but no tomb could ever house his accomplishments in business nor his service to his fellow man.  The next time I am in Metairie Cemetery I will make a point to visit the tomb of Lucien Napoleon Brunswig.  This time I will not go to view his tomb but rather to pay my respects to his life.  What a man!

Arabi, Louisiana -The LeBeau House

19 Jul

The LeBeau House - Old Plantation Home in Arabi, Louisiana.

No matter how much I learn about the New Orleans area there is always something “new” to stumble upon.  A year or so ago I was looking at some photographs and saw one of a very interesting old home.  One cold tell it was very grand in its day but the years had taken a toll.  I was shocked to find that the “house” was in Arabi, just a few miles from downtown New Orleans.  The old home that I saw in the pictures, and which I later visited, is called the LeBeau House.  As with many old homes around New Orleans the LeBeau House has an interesting history – but it is hard to tell fact from fiction.

I paid a visit to the house back in the Spring and took pictures. While there I did not get the feeling that the place was haunted but then again the house has been fenced and boarded up.  A boarded house is sad.  It seems the windows to a house are much like the eyes of a person.  The expression of the windows can say a lot about a place but when they are sealed the mind has a hard time going beyond the plywood or planks. Here is a brief history of the house:

Francoise Barthelemy LeBeau purchased the property  in 1851 and soon after began construction of this home.  The home was completed in 1854 and a few months later Mr. LeBeau died.  That is a sad story but one befitting of a place like the LeBeau House.  What better way to start a story that will last for generations!  For the next 50 or so years the house remained in the family but in 1905 it was purchased from the family and it became a gambling center named Friscoville.  During this time it was operated as the “Friscoville Hotel.”  In 1928 the house was purchased by another group.  Legal gambling was on the decline but the house lived on and was used as an illegal casino known as the “Cadone Hotel.”  It served too as a boarding house for casino dealers.  Since the late 1930s the house has seen little use and time and wear and vandalism have scarred the once grand house.  Now the above gives an outline of the history of the house but there is more.  Much more!

A house as old as the LeBeau House and in the New Orleans area has to be haunted.  As I mentioned when I visited I did not feel that the place was haunted but Indeed the LeBeau House is the focal point of many local ghost stories.  Legend has it that the LeBeau family had a history of mistreating slaves that worked the plantation.  Sometimes punishment resulted in death and the dead slaves were buried in the adjoining fields.  That wasn’t a good move as the departed slaves began to find their way to the home and they began to haunt and to torment the LeBeau family.  One by one members of the LeBeau family succumbed to insanity.  It is reported that two LeBeau family members hanged themselves on the second floor of the home.  There are also stories of other types of strange and ghostly behavior but one of the stories comes from as recent as the 1970s.  The home was rented at that time, and one of the occupants, a little girl, was thrown from a window of the fourth floor cupola.  She was thrown from the cupola but not by human hands.  Since then the place has not seen human occupation.

More information about the LeBeau House can be found in local books and libraries and even some old photos are in the Historic New Orleans Collection.  As per taking photos, or visiting, the home is easily seen – if you can get to Arabi or Chalmette you can certainly get to the LeBeau House.

New Orleans, Louisiana – Garden District – E. Burton White, Jr. House

1 Dec

At one time this house was known as the E. Burton White Jr. home. It is located in the historic Garden District of New Orleans, Louisiana.

The Garden District has a very interesting history and it is always a pleasure to learn more about this historic and unique treasure.  It is always a pleasure to stroll this area of town and to photograph the beautiful homes and yards. It is as much park like as it is residential.

New Orleans is a very historic city and the Garden District certainly contributes to that designation. Because of the old system of filing many legal transactions by the notary it can be challenging to discover the important things about a structure or about a person.   I think that most of the homes in the Garden District have stories to tell and it is always interesting to know some of the history.  If one sees a beautiful home it feels good to know the name, if it has one, or maybe the families that have lived there.

I’m not interested in a detailed history of most homes but I always like to know a little information about any building that I photograph. I have purchased several books on the Garden District, and New Orleans, but even with those it is difficult to learn the history of one of the homes.  Somehow I discovered that one of the beautiful homes, in the Garden District, that I had photographed was called “The White House.”  It could be called something else these days or in times past but there is a description of this home in “The Great Days of the Garden District,” by Martha and Ray Samuel. The information was published by “The Parent’s League of the Louise S. McGehee School.” In this booklet the structure is referred to as the “E. Burton White, Jr. House.”  So the home is/was known for one of its owners – not the color of the house.

E. Burton White, Jr. appears to have been a medical doctor in New Orleans.  I have found information on him by doing searches on the Internet.  From what I have found he is now deceased but I have found other sources that do not make this clear.  At the time that the Garden District book was written Dr. White was the owner and resident of the house. The “White House” which is not the color white is good enough for me.

The above publication says that records of 1877 show the house advertised as a “raised cottage facing Chestnut Street.”  In 1878 a renovation took place in which the entry of the home was moved to First Street and the cottage was raised even higher. A new first story was constructed and the old first floor was moved to the second story and a new facade was constructed.  Bays were added to both floors.

The original construction of this structure is believed to have taken place in 1849. It was a typical Louisiana cottage with a gallery across the front, having a wide center hall with two large rooms, on either side, and two additional bedrooms in the “attic like” second floor.

Sometime after the 1878 renovation the house was converted into three apartments. When the publication was printed in was stated that the present owners were in the process of converting the structure back to a single family dwelling.

Today the home is a beautiful structure that adds its character to the Garden District.  It is hard to picture this home being located anywhere else! Oh, if you have a few million bucks to spare you can purchase this house – it is for sale. It has five bedrooms and five baths and is 6,751 square ft. in size.

New Orleans, Louisiana – In A Different Light

10 Sep

Royal Street During a Light Rain

New Orleans is probably one of Americas most photographed cities.  It certainly makes up a great number of my images.  One of the most difficult things that I encounter is ending up with a bunch of images that rarely captures the beauty and excitement of the French Quarter Streets or Canal Street – the River you name it.  In this series of images, taken at different times, I decided to pump up the saturation, chroma and whatever else I could manipulate in order to make the mood different.  I have overdone it in some of the images but again the colors make me feel good about the picture.  It helps me to see what is there and not to concentrate on what is not there.

The image above was taken on Royal Street after a light rain had started falling.  It was a nice image but just sort of gray.  So I decided to play around with the sliders in Photoshop and in Capture NX.  I liked the result.  The Royal Street image and all the ones that follow are simply produced by adjusting the saturation and chroma of the images.

Late Afternoon Lights on Canal Street

The image above was snapped on Canal Street and I was lucky enough for two streetcars to show up.  As luck would have it I was already soaking wet and just after taking this picture I walked over to the Walgreens at Baronne and Canal and bought a much-needed bottle of water.  Upon exiting the store I stepped into a crater on Baronne Street and fell.  I broke my fall but not that of my camera.  The lens hit the street and broke into a number of pieces.  I also soaked up all the water and essence that Baronne had to over.  This year I will go back and get some of the pictures that I intended to take that night.

An Image Taken From A Small Boat in the Mississippi River

This too was a gray toned image in the original image.  After pumping up the saturation a little the tones in the buildings started matching those found in the water.  A small ship is passing New Orleans headed downriver early in the morning.

The colors in this image turned out completely different.  At first it appeared to me that the image was taken at about the same time as the other but as it was we were running up and down the river quite a bit that day.  This does show how much lighting and colors can change dramatically while one is out and about taking images.

Adding saturation and playing with the color added a lot of drama to the clouds.  The off set was the color of the water that resulted.  I guess I could change it if I wanted to but all in all I enjoy looking at the image as it is.  The colors and the clouds gives the image a “depth” that it would lack otherwise.

Well, after any photo excursion it might be better to look at some pictures and to see what you can do with them.  When I first saw these I was disappointed but after a year it was fun to play with them and see what resulted.  They indeed give one an opportunity to see the same old stuff in a new light.

New Orleans, Louisiana – Garden District – Homes

15 Aug

One of my favorite places to visit in order to stroll the streets and to take photographs is in the Historic Garden District of New Orleans.  Let me quantify that statement by saying when the weather is to my liking.  My favorite visiting time is in the fall and through the spring.  The homes here are beautiful and the hard light in summer just washes out the color, so you never capture the beauty seen by your eyes.  My intention is to make posts about some of these individual houses and to discuss their history and significance in more detail. At the moment I have beaucoup of photos of the Garden District and so I am posting some of them without any discussion – in reality they need none.

New Orleans, Louisiana – Canal Street Walgreens Neon Sign

11 Aug

The Neon Sign on Walgreens at 900 Canal Street in New Orleans Dates Back to 1938

Walgreens, located at 900 Canal Street in New Orleans, has applied to the CBD Historic District Landmarks Commission to replace its existing neon sign with an LED sign of the same design. The Architectural Review Committee will review this proposal on August 17th.

The existing neon sign is part of the original store which was opened in 1938. The store was welcomed to New Orleans by other businesses that lauded their support in the local newspaper The Times Picayune.

I don’t think that anyone will disagree that the unique store and the unique sign have become New Orleans Landmarks and even a part of the city’s culture.  The store that would become an icon in New Orleans was also the 500th store opened by the national Walgreens chain.

I can only imagine how pretty Canal Street would be if all the neon signs that were once on Canal Street were still there.  What lights that are there become magical at night, especially after a rain when the wet streets reflect the beautiful lights back up into the eyes.  Walgreens is probably the best at producing beautiful reflections.  I like the Palace Restaurant Sign too but that is of a different type.

I am not qualified to make a recommendation on what would be the best thing for the city and for Walgreens to do regarding the lighting.  My thoughts are that anything that would change the cultural significance that the sign has created should not be attempted.  If you have thoughts on the request or need more information you can let the Landmarks Commission know or perhaps contact the Preservation Resource Center for New Orleans.  Their website is http://www.prcno.org/.

New Orleans, Louisiana – Streetcars – St. Charles Line

1 Jul

St. Charles Line in the neutral ground between Audubon Park and Tulane

New Orleans is noted for its historic streetcars and streetcar lines.  I have heard them rumble by and there is even a historic roar on the tracks as they pass.  In many places the neutral ground is filled with people jogging or walking.  The green of the neutral ground and the people project a park like setting in which the streetcars rumble up and down St. Charles Avenue and out Carrollton.

Passengers Getting in Streetcar on St. Charles

One of the first family stories that I remember about the St. Charles line happened when I was a baby.  Somehow I managed to kick my shoes off and they sailed out the window of the streetcar. This was not funny to my mother.  In fact, 50 years later, I am compelled to look for those shoes every time I am in New Orleans.

Later I worked for a stint in New Orleans and took the St, Charles line in to work everyday.  It was something that I always enjoyed .  The people, the cars and the atmosphere associated with the whole thing.  It was a part of history.

Historical Marker on Carrollton

On Carrollton Street there is a historic marker that says that the Carrollton Street Car line in the oldest continuous streetcar line in the U.S.  That is true but the Cable Car in San Francisco and the Trolley in New York both predate the New Orleans system by a few years.  Still New Orleans can claim that it was the second city in the nation to have a street car system and that it has the oldest continuously operated line in the world with the St. Charles and Carrollton line.

Historic Streetcar with Mahogany Seats Carries 52 Passengers

The cars in use today are the still “Arch Roof” type designed by Mr. Perley A. Thomas and built by the Brill and Perley Thomas Car Companies in 1922-24.  These double trunk cars are 47’8″ in width, and 11’4″ in height.  The exteriors retain their traditional (since 1899) colors of olive green and cream trim and iron red window and door frames.  The interiors are fitted with wooden seats that seat 52 passengers.  The cars can be operated in either direction with controls in the vestibule at each end of the car.  The cars have been completely refurbished by New Orleans Public Service Incorporated (NOPSI) and presently in good condition.

The Bed of the Tracks is Underground Putting the Rails at Ground Level

There is a “roadbed” for the tracks but it is all underground.  Therefore the tracks and neutral ground traversed by cars that were pulled by mules and then powered by steam and then by electricity still appear very much like they did originally.  In the September 30, 1835 issue of the New Orleans Bee the 25 cent ride was described.

“The route passes through a level and beautiful country; Very high, (About six feet above Canal Street), dry and arable lands – and affording one of the most pleasant drives in the Southern States.  It passes through the limits of an ancient forest of Live Oaks; Peculiarly interesting as being one of the very few of its kind now remaining in the South.”

St. Charles Line Cars on Canal Before Canal Line Cars Started the Route After Hurricane Katrina

In 1866, General P.G.T. Beauregard, C.S.A., and Associates leased the N.O. & C. R.R. Co., and Beauregard served as an innovative president for almost 10 years.  The constant improvements and increased efficiency under his management were reflected in the value of the Company’s stock which rose from $7.50 per share in 1865 to $110.00 per share by the early 1870s.

Car 900 Heads Uptown on the Historic St. Charles Line

For a 125 years streetcars have been an integral part of travel in New Orleans.  Today the St. Charles Line is the oldest, continuously operated street car line in the world today.  Since 1835, street railway cars have rounded Lee Circle and headed up St. Charles Avenue to Carrollton.  It is one of the last surviving examples of an era in which street railways were one of the major forms of public transit contributing greatly to the development of Urban America.