Apr 2 2003
Overview & History
Stuart Hall School/Carrollton Community
The Carrollton Presbyterian Church (2032 S. Carrollton) started a school near its location in the Carrollton neighborhood of New Orleans in 1960. They continued to operate it until 1988, when the school was closed. This school included kindergarten to 12th grade and, at its peak, had an attendance of 360 children. It is reported that the Carrollton Presbyterian Church’s school serviced primarily families from the neighborhood.
The Catholic/Christian school Stuart Hall, which was founded in 1984, moved their operation into the facilities of the Carrollton Presbyterian Church in 1988. Since that time, the private school has purchased five residential homes in the neighborhood surrounding the school facilities. Currently, the school serves approximately 200 students, from nursery age to 7th grade. In May 2002, area residents received notice of plans for demolition of five existing homes (8142 Panola, 8134 Panola, 8120 Panola, 8121-23 Spruce, 8125-27 Spruce) and their replacement by new construction. Planned facilities include a two story gymnasium and a three-story early childhood center. Stuart Hall School currently owns six residential homes.
(Courtesy Flo Blouin)
Stuart Hall School resides in what the City Planning Commission terms the Leonidas neighborhood of the Carrollton District. The boundaries of the area are the River Bend Area and the Jefferson Parish Line. The area is marked by its tree lined streets and the proximity of the St. Charles streetcar. The neighborhood is primarily residential, with a combination of single family homes, multiple family dwellings and apartments. About 50% are owned by the residents, the rest are rental units. It is a neighborhood developed primarily in the first decades of the 1900’s. In the past decade, the area has experienced much of the renovation and revitalization boom experienced in other parts of the city. Its proximity to public transportation (both the St. Charles streetcar line and express bus service to the Central Business District) and the commercial areas of the Riverbend area have made it an attractive choice for new homeowners, although it has retained its close knit neighborhood quality with many long time residents.
The central issue at play here is the cohabitation of residential and institutional uses. The particulars of this situation involve a clash of interests between residents fearing of a loss of their quality of life and an institution hoping to expand its facilities. This report was compiled using information provided by community residents. Stuart Hall School was also given the opportunity to supply information, but had not responded by press time.
Supporters identify the project’s benefits as:
- Providing a quality education to children in the city
- Helping to make New Orleans attractive to families
- Locating a good school in Uptown
Critics of the project cite:
- The area’s designation as RD-2 (family residential) zoned
- The destruction of residential housing in a well-established neighborhood
- Additional traffic and noise in a quiet residential neighborhood
- Deterioration of the quality of life for remaining residents
- Lack of input from neighbors in the planning process
The Urban Conservancy supports the coexistence of residential and institutional uses in our historic neighborhoods. Such coexistence requires that all parties work in good faith to meet legitimate needs of all segments of the community. Institutions such as churches and schools provide our communities with a host of beneficial services. This does not, however, give them unfettered rights to destroy the urban fabric that makes our neighborhoods livable. Similarly, while residents have a right to improve their homes and provide comfort for their families, they do not have unfettered rights to demolish their homes and build bigger ones just because they own them. In each case, the burden of proof must be placed on the individuals or organizations seeking to radically alter the character of the community.
In the case of Stuart Hall School, The Urban Conservancy has yet to see convincing evidence of the need to demolish structurally sound residential houses to enable speculative growth of a relatively new school. The leadership of the institution knew full well in 1988 that they were choosing to locate their school in a residential and land-locked location. That they have been successful is fantastic and benefits all members of the community. But this does not give them license to demolish the neighborhood they elected to join — in the name of planned expansion.
The Urban Conservancy urges the community to reject the planned demolitions and infill construction for the following reasons:
- The business model of Stuart Hall School appears to be changing to one that is not appropriate to its current location
- The changes would require a Conditional Use Permit at a time when the city is changing the zoning laws to limit and/or eliminate Conditional Uses
- The failure of the school leadership to involve the community despite several years of planning and purchasing of real estate
- The conversion of tax-producing housing into non-taxable institutional property undermines the city’s tax-base at a time of budget shortfalls.
- The negative impact of increased traffic and noise on residents
- The degradation of quality of life of neighborhood residents
- Three of The Five Houses To Be Destroyed
(Courtesy Flo Blouin)
Carrollton/Riverbend Residents’ Association
Gordon Cagnolatti, President
Louisiana Landmarks Society
Rick Normand, President
Maple Area Residents’ Association
William Syll, President
Mid-City Neighborhood Association
Sundance Morgan, Chairman
Preservation Resource Center
Valeton J. Dansereau, President
Uptown Triangle Residents’ Association
Helen Schneider, President
1/8/03 On Monday January 13, representatives of Stuart Hall School will be applying to the Housing Conservation District Review Committee for permission to demolish the three houses designated as “gold,” meaning while important to the character of the community, are not protected landmarks. The meeting will be held in Room 7E07 of City Hall at 10:00 AM.
12/19/02 The Historic District Landmarks Commission recently designated as city landmarks two of the five houses threatened with demolition by Stuart Hall School. This is being challenged by Stuart Hall representatives.
11/27/02 Louisiana Landmarks Society, Mid-City neighborhood Association and Preservation Resource Center express support for the residents surrounding Stuart Hall’s proposed expansion.
9/12/02 Another neighborhood association has joined the coalition to oppose Stuart Hall’s expansion into the surrounding residential area. Uptown Triangle Residents’ Association has voted to support Concerned Carrollton Residents and Community in their efforts to minimize the expansion of Stuart Hall School into the residential area.
9/10/02 HDLC approves the remaining houses on the Carrollton-Spruce-Dublin-Panola block for study of their landmark status. This means the whole block is protected from demolition while the properties are studied.
8/13/02 Representatives of Concerned Carrollton Residents and Community presented their research on the five houses slated for demolition by Stuart Hall School to the Historic District Landmark Commission (HDLC). Against the objections of Stuart Hall representatives (including ex-HRI staffer Tom Crumley), the HDLC approved the houses for further study as landmarks, temporarily blocking any destruction of the homes.