Today’s NCDC meeting included 4 structures which were on the agenda to be demolished for a CVS Pharmacy. One of the structures caught my attention for a number of reasons one of which is it’s past use as a synagogue.



Chevra Thilim Synagogue was built in June 1948 at South Claiborne Avenue and Jena Street and attracted many Jewish families to the area. Its congregation was already 50 years old at the time the Claiborne Synagogue was built. Prior to that time, the congregation used a building located on the northeast corner of Lafayette and Baronne Streets.



Along with the synagogue was a former fast food restaurant, a bank and a residential building. The demolition of all these structures to make way for a CVS tells a lot about the orientation of our commercial buildings and what will be the reality for Claiborne Ave.

According to Myron Katz, “The Chevra Thilim synagogue building was a powerful magnet in the early 1950’s “The Jews who lived in that neighborhood were very numerous… even to the extent that over 30% of the students at the public grammar school, Wilson, were Jewish; my two sisters, my brother and I attended that school, Wilson, at that time: 1950-1963”. His sister still lives in the neighborhood in the family home, purchased by his father in 1952, and located not far from the South Claiborne Avenue building.

There is more history of the Chevra Thilim “here”:

While looking around for some information on this particular building I began to think about people who like to visit these kinds of places and how upon arriving in New Orleans they may be surprised to find the synagogue is now a CVS. Of course they may have been even more surprised when the synagogue was a Baptist Church as it has been for the last years of it’s life. If they need to take a break and digest it all they can visit the giant Walgreens across the street.


What was once a cluster of buildings that had a relationship to the surrounding neighborhood will now service the occupants of the cars that whiz by here on the way out of the CBD.

It also begs the question;what became of the plans to create a better Claiborne Ave, one that services the surrounding areas? And how will these 2 giant drugstores play nice together. Will we see another vacant structure in the near future when the question of sustainability is answered with one of them declaring defeat and leaving another vacant commercial building? Time will tell.

to see the full results of the meeting click here “{results}”: the P.R.C. is doing a great job of cataloging and posting the agenda.


One of our readers left a link to this photo in the comments section. I thought it was a nice addition.

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...