NEW ORLEANS — Piece by piece, the old McDonogh 11 School near South Claiborne Avenue and Canal Street is coming down.
“I guess this is the end of the era,” Sandra Stokes, the Louisiana Landmarks Society’s advocacy chairwoman, said Thursday as crews continued the slow demolition process.
She and other preservationists have worked since 2008 to save the school, which was built in 1878 and is one of the remaining structures designed by noted architect William Freret.
The school was renovated for $3 million after Hurricane Katrina, and later moved several times as University Medical Center was built.
It’s sat untouched since then, tucked alongside an I-10 off-ramp.
Stokes blamed lack of action on LSU.
“They’ve let it languish. They put it on showcase right there on the interstate,” she said. “It’s just a sin.”
Edwin Murray, vice chancellor for LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans, disputed that and said the building is a hazard these days.
He said the time has come to tear it down after preservationists failed to find any use for it.
“Since nobody else has come forward to take the building, we think it’s appropriate for it to be demolished,” he said. “This was approved by the LSU board -- I want to say almost 10 years ago -- so we have waited and waited and waited for someone to come to move the building. That has not happened.”
Danielle Del Sol, executive director of the Preservation Resource Center, said it was up to LSU to preserve the building and that preservationists only stepped in since nothing was being done.
“It’s a woulda, coulda should,” she said. “Really 10 years ago they should’ve given the building to someone who could’ve taken it while it was still in good shape.”
Stokes said the building could’ve become part of the UMC campus.
“LSU always could have incorporated that building into the design as Dixie Brewery was incorporated into the VA design. But there was an unwillingness to let history become a part of the new hospital.”
“We did not have a use for the building,” Murray countered. “It ended up on our campus because, as you recall, to build the new University Medical Center it had to be removed and has been moved several places. This is the last place it was moved to.”
The demolition will cost $87,250.
It should be done by mid-September.