Even the most humble house can hold more history than it’s gutted and hollowed out walls would have you believe. The fist time I saw this house I was wondering why someone had spray painted DO NOT DEMOLISH on it. The house had floated off it’s piers and was resting against the house next door.

Sister Gertrude's House

Born in Lafayette, Alabama, Gertrude Morgan heard a voice in 1937 that told her, “Go and Preach, tell it to the world.” Two years later, she moved to New Orleans and became a street preacher. With Mother Margaret Parker and Sister Cora Williams, she opened an orphanage and built a chapel and a childcare center in Gentilly. Music was an intricate part of Morgan’s religious activities. She sang as well as played the piano, guitar, and tambourine.

Around 1957, the Holy Ghost came to her in a vision and chose her to become a bride of Christ. At this time, she began to dress only in white, furnished her home in white, and began to paint. An untrained artist, Sister Gertrude Morgan”s paintings were an extension of her religious devotion. Combining text and images, she created compelling artwork. Intended to educate, the written areas often refer to the scripture illustrated and are an integral part of the image.

Sister Gertrude's House

“Sister Gertrude died long before the flood”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gertrude_Morgan.. but you can still hear “her sing here”:http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4864538

And here is one of her paintings.

Sister Gertrude Morgan

When I started Squandered Heritage one of the first posts I wrote was about “The Quotidian”:http://www.squanderedheritage.com/2006/08/19/housing-conservation/ I was using the term to describe a run of the mill house the kind that fill the City of New Orleans, the shotgun, the bungalow, the raised sidehall..and on and on. These houses in other cities would be treasured here there are so many they are not really SEEN.

So today there will be a hearing to discuss the demolition of this house. I know that a production company from Boston has been working on a documentary which would include this house. It’s passing will not go unnoticed but I fear the attention paid to it will come from far away and not from the community that Sister Gertrude Ministered to. Another unseen treasure of New Orleans.

Sister Gertrude Morgan

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Karen Gadbois

Karen Gadbois co-founded The Lens. She now covers New Orleans government issues and writes about land use. With television reporter Lee Zurik she exposed widespread misuse of city recovery funds and led...