"Selective demolition" lies ahead for a school with a storied past. photo: Karen Gadbois

“Selective demolition” lies ahead for a school with a storied past. photo: Karen Gadbois

Demolition of Booker T. Washington High School, on Earhart Boulevard near the B.W. Cooper public housing development, is now under way, but plans call for preserving the school’s storied auditorium.

The auditorium, in ruins since Katrina, will be refurbished. photo: Andy Cook

The first new high school built in New Orleans specifically for African Americans, Booker T was designed in the art deco style by architect E.A. Christy.

As the school marked its 60th anniversary in 2002,  Preservation in Print magazine saluted Booker T with an article that mentioned musical greats who performed in what author Donna Fricker correctly called “the city’s black municipal auditorium.” Marian Anderson, Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong and Mahalia Jackson were among them.

There are plans to build a new school on the site and, separately, a recreational facility to replace the nearby Rosenwald Center, which was recently approved for demolition.

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...