Squandered Heritage Vintage

Sister Gertrude Morgan

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.. but you can still hear her sing here

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 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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About Karen Gadbois

Karen Gadbois co-founded The Lens. She now covers New Orleans government issues and writes about land use for Squandered Heritage. For her work with television reporter Lee Zurik exposing widespread misuse of city recovery funds — which led to guilty pleas in federal court — Gadbois won some of the highest honors in journalism, including a Peabody Award, an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award and a gold medal from Investigative Reporters and Editors. She can be reached at (504) 606-6013.

  • This is another reason I love NOLA and why it makes me happy and sad …

    I have read about her

    Thanks for posting this

  • Pingback: Mr. Gettridge | Squandered Heritage()

  • David Dunlap

    Thank you for posting this. I have visited this house, have seen the front yard full of four-leaf clovers. I am very interested in the fate of this house, this memory of Sister Gertrude Morgan and her paintings.

  • David

    The house has been demolished I am sorry to say. There is a special on Frontline tonight about the current owner, Mr Gettridge.

  • Therese

    Have we no shame?

  • Omar

    What a shame that this home was demolished. I’m just now starting to listen to Sister Gertrude Morgan and I found this post through my interest and research of her.

    The New Orleans museum of Art has a collection of her art work.

  • David Dunlap

    I often listen to Sister Gertrude Morgan, ofter look at the beautiful images she made. I love to read the
    list of names she used to identify herself. She is remembered and I have my 4-leaf clover.