04302017Headline:

What’s in a Name? The History of Delgado’s Named Buildings

 

By: Mary Achary and Leonard “Lenny” Vasbinder   Photos by: Mary  Achary

If you are ever confused about the numbers on many of Delgado’s buildings and why they seem so randomly placed on the campus maps, there is a method to the madness.

The Louisiana Community and Technical College System (LCTCS) has a system for keeping track of assets, where each building has a number which does not necessarily correspond to the building’s location on the campus map. For example, Building 1 is located at the front of the City Park campus on City Park Avenue; and, Building 2 is located way on the other side of the campus on Navarre Avenue.

So, in order to clear up this little misunderstanding, we have comprised a brief history of some of the citizens of Delgado Community College, and the buildings that bear their names.

Isaac Delgado Hall (Building 1) Photo By Mary Achary

Isaac Delgado Hall

(Building 1) 

Named for the college’s founder, Isaac Delgado was the grandson of one of the great “merchant princes” of Kingston, Jamaica. At the age of fourteen, Delgado immigrated to New Orleans, moving in with his Aunt Virginia Uncle Samuel who owned a successful sugar trading firm, Delgado and Company.

Upon his uncle’s death in 1905, Delgado inherited Delgado and Company and set to work making the company more profitable. Delgado’s head for business enabled him to expand the firm and his many business acquaintances, allowed him to become one of New Orleans’ first self-made millionaires as well as a prominent figure in Crescent City society.

In the years following Samuel’s passing, Delgado continued to live with Virginia until her death. As the years passed, and with them his chances for marriage, Delgado began to feel the need to share his wealth. In doing so, he funded the Delgado Memorial at Charity Hospital in honor of his late uncle, and the Isaac Delgado Museum of Art (now the New Orleans Museum of Art) in City Park.

However, Isaac Delgado’s lasting legacy is his bequeathment of a portion of his estate to the city of New Orleans for the establishment of a school specializing in the growing trades industry in the United States and around the world. Delgado Trades School opened in September 1921 and was formally dedicated on November 23 1921, the 82nd anniversary of Isaac Delgado’s birth.

Isaac Delgado Fine Arts Gallery

(Building 1, 3rd Floor) 

Located in Isaac Delgado Hall, high atop the third floor is the Isaac Delgado Fine Arts Gallery. This spaciously, a well-lit room has held many art exhibits by both instructor and student artists, as well as local artists. The gallery’s director is Professor Brenda Hanegan, an Assistant Professor of the Fine Arts Program and the Arts and Humanities Division at Delgado.

Timothy K. Baker Theatre

(Building 1, 1st Floor)

Nestled in its own little world, and dedicated to the late associate professor and director of the Delgado Theatre Program and coordinator of Delgado’s Performance and Media Arts Department, the Timothy K. Baker Theatre is a newly renovated addition to Isaac Delgado Hall.

During his 25-year tenure at Delgado, Baker produced and /or directed more than 65 productions. In addition to his classroom lessons, he also shared life lessons with his students. The theater is a true testament to Baker’s love of craft as well as his creativity and charisma.   

Seymour Weiss Rehabilitation Center

(Building 4) 

Born in Bunkie, Louisiana, Seymour Weiss was a prominent hotel executive, civic leader, and a close friend of Huey P. Long. In 1928, Weiss was promoted to manager of the Grunewald Hotel in New Orleans. Five years earlier, a group of local investors purchased the hotel and renamed it “The Roosevelt” in honor of President Theodore Roosevelt who died in 1919. In 1931, Weiss was named the president of the New Orleans Roosevelt Corp, and from 1931-1965, he was the principal owner and directing manager of “The Roosevelt.”

As a civic leader, Weiss was a director of the New Orleans chapter of the American Red Cross, the Chamber of Commerce, and the International Trade Mart. However, Seymour Weiss is more prominently remembered for his contribution to Delgado as a member of the first Delgado Board of Managers.

Joey Georgusis Center for Children

(Building 5) 

In September of 2011, child care returned to the Delgado City Park Campus with the opening of the Joey Georgusis Center for Children. The center is named in memory of the son of local philanthropist and political donor, Joseph Georgusis who was a major donor for the 8,500-square-foot, $2.3 million center.

Joey Georgusis’ death in 2005, led to controversy when the New Orleans Coroner’s Office classified his death as an accidental drug overdose, but his father fought for over five years to have his son’s death classified as a homicide. According to a 2012 WDSU news report, the elder Georgusis alleged that his son was murdered and not the victim of an accidental drug-related death, ultimately leading to the 2011 lawsuit against the Coroner’s Office.

The Joey Georgusis Center for Children is dedicated to providing quality learning in a safe environment for Delgado’s diverse student population. The center also provides hands-on training for students enrolled in classes related to child care and child development.

The center is opened from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and serves children aged 6-weeks to 4-years old. The center is open to parent and guardian visits and is also monitored by a camera system for added security. For more information on availability, hours of operation, and child care cost, go to www.dcc.edu.    

H. Giles Martin Hall (Building 6) Photo By Mary Achary

Giles Martin Hall

(Building 6) 

On May 1, 2015, a new chapter in the history of Delgado Community College was being written with the dedication of a new building, the H. Giles Martin Hall. Overlooking the original landmark Isaac Delgado Hall, H. Giles Martin Hall is a two-story 14,000-square-foot which houses the digital media, small business, and entrepreneurship programs.

The building’s namesake is the late H. Giles Martin, Delgado’s first and longest-serving director. Just 38 years old when he became director of the Isaac Delgado Trades School in 1920, Martin oversaw the construction on City Park Avenue which included the new Isaac Delgado Hall while training Delgado’s new faculty and staff in the Howard Annex of Gallier Hall on St. Charles Avenue.

When Martin retired in 1954, then Mayor “Chep” Morrison recommended Marvin E. Thames, Sr. succeed Martin as the new director of the New Orleans trades school.

Marvin E. Thames, Sr. Learning Resource Center (Building 7) Photo By Mary Achary

Marvin E. Thames, Sr. Learning Resources Center

(Building 7)

Delgado continued to flourish as a trades school under the leadership of Director Marvin E. Thames. However, by the mid-fifties, the world economy was rapidly changing, and the school, eager to keep up with the other trades schools in Louisiana and the United States, was in search of a mission and much needed adequate funding. A 1956 Tulane University survey recommended the following; first, that Delgado be expanded to a technical institute at the junior college level with its primary focus to provide post-high school educational programs for technicians. Second, that the school should receive proper funding. The Delgado Board of Managers and the New Orleans City Council adopted the recommendation and changed the name to the Delgado Trades and Technical Institute and a new two-year technical college program was implemented. In 1966, the school’s name changed again to the Isaac Delgado College and then Delgado Vocational-Technical College becoming a model multi-campus, comprehensive community/junior college for Louisiana with Dr. Thames as its president. In 1971, Delgado received its accreditation from the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. In 1980, the Louisiana Legislature officially changed the name to Delgado Community College.

During his tenure as president of Delgado, Dr. Thames initiated the building of the eight-pod shaped O’Keefe Administration Building. Dr. Thames was also the only president to reside in the “President’s House” on City Park Campus. The destruction of much of Delgado’s campus by Hurricane Katrina in August 2005 also severely flooded the Moss Library. With the help of FEMA and generous donations, Delgado rebuilt its campus and in 2016, opened the Marvin E. Thames, Sr. Learning Resources Center in honor of the man who lived at Delgado.

Elleonora Erwin Moss Library

(Building 7)

Elleonora Erwin Moss was the closest thing to a wife Isaac Delgado could have in his adult life. Close friends to Delgado’s Aunt Virginia for many years, Miss Moss was the daughter of Dr. Benjamin Moss and an avid book collector. Interestingly, Miss Moss did not become friends with Isaac Delgado until shortly before Virginia died, she asked her to be her nephew’s companion and read to him due to his rapidly deteriorating health from diabetes and kidney disease.

From its inception until her death at age 99, Miss Moss was a longtime benefactor of the Delgado Trades School bequeathing $150,000 to the school for the construction of a campus library. In 1970, a dedication ceremony was held for the opening of the Moss Library. The Moss Library, also known as Building 7, remained a part of the Delgado building family until it was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Francis E. Cook Building (Building 10) Photo By Mary Achary

Francis E. Cook Building

(Building 10)

For nearly 40 years, Francis Earl Cook was one of the most loved and respected members of the Delgado Community College family. He was Chief of the Campus Police Department as well as an employee of the College/Technical Institute during the years it was still governed by the City of New Orleans. Cook was also a close confidant of then Delgado President Marvin E. Thames.

In 1970, a dedication ceremony was held for the opening of the Francis E. Cook Building, also known as Building 10. The building became a temporary library when the Moss Library was torn down due to damage it sustained from Hurricane Katrina. Today, the Francis E. Cook Building houses the Facilities and Planning Offices located on the first floor as well as math classrooms and IT offices located on the second floor. However, the jewel of the building is the suite of new administrative offices which serves Delgado Campus Police Chief and his staff.

Michael L. Williamson Complex (Building 11) Photo By Mary Achary

Michael L. Williamson Complex

(Buildings 11, 22 and 23)

Michael L. Williamson and his position at Delgado is as much a mystery today as it was then. Williamson came to Delgado during the tenure of President Harry Boyer. This was also at a time when many college employees had job titles, earned a paycheck, but their duties were never clearly identified which may account for the reason Delgado always seemed to be making headlines in the local newspapers.

Michael L. Williamson was in his second year of employment at Delgado when tragedy struck. Using space heaters to keep his apartment warm one cold night, he went to sleep with the heaters still on and died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Although no donations were made, to this day the reason for naming Building 11 after Williamson is still as much of a mystery as the young man himself. It is interesting that the Michael L. Williamson Complex houses the Culinary Arts Department, The Dolphin Newsroom where issues of The Dolphin come to life, the gymnasium, the Delgado Radio Station, Intramural Sports, and SGA.

O'Keefe Administration Building (Building 37) Photo By Mary Achary

O’Keefe Administration Building

(Building 37)

Located at on the City Park Avenue campus, adjacent to Holt Cemetery is the O’Keefe Administration Building. The construction of this unique octagon-shaped building was initiated by Delgado President Marvin E. Thames. Named for New Orleans businessman and Mayor Arthur J. O’Keefe, the building houses a reception/waiting room, Delgado’s Human Resources Department, Delgado’s Public Relations Department, the Vice-Chancellor’s Office, the Chancellor’s Office, as well as various other administrative offices.

Henry E. Braden, Sr. Vocational Technical Complex

(Wall)

One of the first African-American restaurant owners, Henry E. Braden, Sr. grew up in Natchitoches, Louisiana in the 1870s. His education was cut short in the fourth grade when his died suddenly, and he was forced to find work to support his mother and sisters.

Braden found work in the cotton fields near Natchitoches and later worked as a waiter in a restaurant on the town’s main street overlooking the Cane River. But, Braden was not content to be a waiter. With other ambitions on his mind, Braden was determined to seek his fortune in the city of New Orleans. Thrifty with his money, Braden embarked on a very strenuous academic journey often studying into the wee hours of the morning. He taught himself writing and mathematics with great success.

Shortly after his marriage to Mary Allen, Braden found work as a Pullman porter, a very popular occupation among black men during his time. Although the hours were long and the work hard, Braden managed to save enough money and eventually moved his family to New Orleans.

After arriving in New Orleans, Braden opened a small restaurant on South Rampart Street. The Astoria was one of the few restaurants in New Orleans that catered strictly to the tastes and needs of the city’s black community. In no time, Braden was able to purchase the building next to the restaurant and convert it into a twenty-room hotel complete with a barber shop, pool hall, and the largest dance hall in the South for African-Americans.

In memory of Henry E. Braden, Sr. Delgado dedicated the Henry E. Braden Vocational-Technical Complex in 1984. The complex houses the Harry J. Batt, Sr. Carpentry Lab, the Bernard J. Bagert, Sr. Automotive Lab, the Charles D. Lancaster, Sr. Machine Shop Lab, and the Adam R. Haydel, Sr. Automotive Lab.

Harry J. Batt, Sr. Carpentry Lab (Building 38) Photo By Mary Achary

Harry J. Batt, Sr. Carpentry Lab

(Building 38)

The year was 1928, and New Orleans was about to get of all things, an amusement park. Courtesy of Harry J. Batt, Sr., Pontchartrain Beach opened in1928, and for the next fifty-five years, would delight New Orleans’ citizens as well as citizens of all ages from all over the world.

The original Pontchartrain Beach was situated across from Bayou St. John. It was taken from an existing amusement resort at Old Spanish Fort. In the early 1930s a sea wall was constructed to give Lake Pontchartrain a new shoreline extending from West End to the Industrial Canal, so Pontchartrain Beach was relocated to the lake end of Elysian Fields Avenue where it remained until it closed on September 23, 1983.

Although Pontchartrain Beach is best remembered for its Art Deco-style bathhouse, swimming pools, and concession stands, it is also remembered for its live music concerts. In addition to local artists, Elvis Presley made an appearance at the park in 1956. Another famous citizen of New Orleans, a weird-looking, kooky scientist by the name of Momus Alexander Morgus also made a few appearances at the park.

However, Pontchartrain Beach is more widely remembered for its wild and crazy amusement rides. In addition to the Zephyr, there was the Zephyr Junior, The Wild Maus, The Bug, Haunted House, bumper cars, carousel, and Ferris wheel just to name a few.

When Pontchartrain Beach was forced to close in 1983 due to declining attendance, several of the park’s beloved rides were sent to an amusement park in Gulf Shores, Alabama. The treasured, painted carousel horses were donated by Batt’s sons Harry J. Batt, Jr. and John A. Batt to New Orleans City Park. Although City Park has never recognized the Batts for their donations, Harry J. Batt, Sr. was recognized for his carpentry skills with the dedication and opening of the Harry J. Batt, Sr. Carpentry Lab as part of the Henry E. Braden Vocational Technical Complex at Delgado in 1984.

Bernard J. Bagert, Sr. Automotive Lab. (Building 39A) Photo By Mary Achary

Bernard J. Bagert, Sr. Welding Lab

(Building 39A)

The story behind the dedication and opening of the welding laboratory is an unusual one. This 14,300 square foot building is not dedicated to a prominent welder or pipe fitter, but a prominent district court judge, Judge Bernard J. Bagert, Sr. To this day, the reasons for the dedication to Judge Bagert are unknown, and no monetary donations were made.

Charles D. Lancaster, Sr. Machine Shop Lab. (Building 39B) Photo By Mary Achary

Charles D. Lancaster, Sr. Machine Shop Lab

(Building 39B)

Located in the same building as the welding lab, is the Charles D. Lancaster, Sr. Machine Shop Lab. Like the Bagert Building, the Lancaster Building has its own unusual story in that Charles D. Lancaster, Sr. was the founder, director, and attorney for the First Metropolitan Bank of Metairie. As with Judge Bagert’s building, Lancaster’s building did not receive any monetary donations.

Adam R. Haydel Sr. Automotive Lab (Building 40) Photo By Mary Achary

Adam R. Haydel, Sr. Automotive Lab

(Building 40)

Like Henry E. Braden, Sr. before him, Adam Ray Haydel, Sr. was an African-American business owner. While his old industrious forbears were engaged in planting in rural St. John the Baptist Parish, young Adam was tinkering with machines. After moving to New Orleans, Haydel landed a job working for a white wrecker. In 1935, Haydel left the company to open his own wrecking company, American Auto Wreckers. Later, Haydel purchased another lot on Gentilly Boulevard and named his second company, Crescent Wrecking. By the 1940s Haydel’s operations became one of the largest and most successful businesses in the country.

Like many of the other businessmen of the times, Haydel acquired many real estate holdings venturing into contracting. One of Haydel’s most celebrated projects was a three-story, multipurpose building he built in the Seventh Ward known as The Pentagon which housed one of the finest event halls in the South for African-Americans. In 1947, Haydel founded the Majestic Insurance Company. Together, with his younger brother, James, Haydel expanded the insurance company and founded the Majestic Funeral Home.

In 1984, Delgado dedicated and opened the Adam R. Haydel, Sr. Automotive Lab a 9,750 square-foot training facility as part of the Henry E. Braden, Sr. Vocational Technical Complex.

Kirsch-Rooney Stadium

(Behind Building 11 Parking Lot)

On June 19, 1957, Kirsch-Rooney Stadium, Delgado’s landmark baseball stadium was dedicated to the memories of Cyril Kirsch and Robert Rooney. Known to friends and family as “Cy” and “Bob,” both boys grew up in the Lakeview neighborhood in New Orleans. Kirsch and Rooney attended Jesuit High School where they lettered together on the “Blue Jays” varsity football team playing on the offensive line.

Although the boys graduated from Jesuit two years apart, they continued playing collegiate football at their perspective colleges; Kirsch played at Auburn University, and Rooney played at the University of West Point.

When the United States entered World War II on December 7, 1941, Kirsch and Rooney enlisted in the U.S. Army. In March 1945, just as the war was nearing its end, Robert Rooney was killed when his plane collided with that of another piloted by a flight leader. One month later, Cyril Kirsch was killed by an enemy sniper while on a mission in Okinawa, Japan. Later, both men were awarded the Medal of Honor after their deaths.

Louis “Rags” Scheuermann Field

(Inside Kirsch-Rooney Stadium)

Louis “Rags” Scheuermann was the founding father of Delgado’s Intercollegiate Athletic Department and Baseball Program in the early 1970s. Baseball was in Scheuermann’s blood. As a child, he played baseball in the streets of New Orleans wearing only socks and raggy clothes earning the nickname “Rags.” In his professional career, Scheuermann played for the Boston Red Sox and later for the Chicago Cubs. However, Scheuermann was later forced to retire from professional baseball due to a recurring arm injury.

Determined to continue his career in baseball, Scheuermann turned to coaching. He served as the Head Coach at Loyola University for a time, but when the university decided to discontinue its athletic department, he went to Delgado where he served as The Dolphins head baseball coach and athletic director.

During his 40-year career as The Dolphins’ head coach, Scheuermann led the team to eight district championships, and a trip to the Junior College World Series.

Since Scheuermann’s death in 1997, the Scheuermann family has carried on the tradition of managing the stadium and has been a constant presence since that first opening day in 1957.

In 2003, Delgado dedicated the Kirsch-Rooney Stadium diamond to the memory of the man who loved to play baseball in his socks and raggy clothes.

Here are a few of the non-named buildings at Delgado Community College:

Building 1: Annex

Next to Isaac Delgado Hall, the Annex houses some classrooms, the college campus police department, and the student ID office.

Building 2: Student Services Building

Located in the rear parking lot, just a few steps from Building 22, with WYES as its next door neighbor, is the Student Services Building also known as the Workforce Development Center. The Student Services Building includes the Bursar’s Office, Math and Science classrooms, and a newly renovated second floor that includes the Math Tutoring Center as well as a new glass-enclosed computer lab.

Building 4: Bookstore

Across from the rear entrance to Isaac Delgado Hall, is the campus bookstore. In addition to the many textbooks associated with Delgado’s academic courses and programs, the bookstore offers much in the way of school supplies such as backpacks, campus clothing, sports pennants, and laptops. The bookstore also offers a variety of snacks for students.

Building 8: Workforce Development/Continuing Education Center

Although the original Building 8 was torn down in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, through FEMA funds and donations, Delgado was able to rebuild Building 8 now known as the Workforce Development/Continuing Education Center. The building houses classrooms and computer learning labs.

Building 9: Workforce Development Offices

Originally a motel, this building went through a series of renovations and eventually became Building 9 also known as the Workforce Development Offices Building. The building houses various administrative offices for staff members and administrators.

Building 12: Central Utilities Building

The Central Utilities Building contains the heating, cooling, and hot water systems for nearly all the City Park Campus. It also houses the building automation of all six currently operating Delgado Community College campuses.

Building 22: Technology Programs Building/Mailroom

(Part of the Michael L. Williamson Complex)

Building 22 houses general purpose classrooms, as well as Delgado’s electronics and robotics programs.

Building 23: Student Life Center

(Part of the Michael L. Williamson Complex)

Situated between Building 11 and Building 22 in the Michael L. Williamson Complex, is the Delgado Community College Student Life Center. Beginning in 1999, the Student Life Center went through a series of much-needed renovations. The renovations were completed in the Spring of 2001. But, like much of the City Park Campus, the building sustained significant damage from Hurricane Katrina and was forced to undergo major infrastructure repairs.

Today, the Student Life Center has become a haven for students where students can relax, study, enjoy a game of Ping-Pong, study, grab a quick bite, catch up with friends, or enjoy the various sponsored campus events. A fun fact about Delgado’s Student Life Center is that where the hole in the floor is now was originally the turtle pond.

Ford/General Motors Technology Lab

Delgado uses the Ford/General Motors Technology Lab for special training purposes. It is believed that both Ford and General Motors pay a fee to Delgado for the use of the building. However, the actual details of the agreement are unknown.

The Following Buildings were severely damaged or flooded by Hurricane Katrina in 2005:

Building 33: Community Campus

Community Campus was the original name for the building known today as the Workforce Development & Education. It is not known if Community Campus was the official name of the building.

Building 32: Two-Story Hotel

The two-story hotel next to Community Campus was the old college Presidential residence.

President’s Home

Originally located behind what is now the Marvin E. Thames Learning Resources Center was a two-story house where Dr. Thames and his family lived during his tenure as Delgado’s president. In 1970, a dedication ceremony was held opening the Moss Memorial Library on the same lot where both structures remained until they were severely flooded by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Quonset Hut

The Quonset Hut was an old military structure left over from World War II that was possibly connected to the Higgins boat yard. The Quonset Hut was originally located near the Joey Georgusis Center for Children and was used as a maintenance storage shed. Currently a new maintenance storage she is being constructed on the original site. One of Delgado’s more prominent citizens is of the opinion that the Quonset Hut should have been kept for historical purposes.

Airplane Hanger & Aviation Program

Delgado’s Airplane Hanger & Aviation Program was originally located where the parking lots for Building 8 and Building 10 are today.

There will be more history about some of the monuments and other buildings around City Park Campus and the satellite campuses as we continue our What’s in a Name? Series in Issue 4 of The Dolphin. Look for a story on LaRocca Hall located on Delgado’s Westbank/Algiers Campus, and the Sidney Collier Campus in New Orleans East.

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