Carrollton Courthouse

Carrollton was incorporated as a city on March 10, 1845. In 1852, the neighboring town of Lafayette, formerly the seat of government for Jefferson Parish, was annexed to the City of New Orleans. The following year, voters selected Carrollton as the new seat of the Jefferson Parish government. In accordance with its new position, the city government would build a new courthouse and jail. The property was purchased for $7,000.

Courthouse
The commission of the courthouse was awarded to architect Henry Howard, who designed an imposing two-story Greek Revival building. Howard went on to design courthouses for several other Gulf Coast towns.
Carrollton Courthouse
The building and jail were constructed by Messrs, Wing, and Crozier for $59,000 and completed in 1855.

From 1855 to 1874, Carrollton served as the seat of government for Jefferson Parish. During those 19 years, the courthouse was the scene for many interesting criminal and civil court cases that would shape the future of Carrollton. Justice was service as were death sentences. Hangings took place behind the courthouse near the jail.

When the town of Carrollton was annexed to the City of New Orleans in 1876, the courthouse was primarily vacant and used by the community and surrounding neighborhoods as a space for public events. However, the jailhouse continued to be functional until it was closed in 1932 due to reports that inmates were disturbing the children.

Courthouse
In 1889, the courthouse began its long history as a school and renamed McDonough No. 23 after 19th-century philanthropist John McDonough.

Courthouse

McDonough No. 23 closed in 1950. Five years later, the School Board sued the City of New Orleans over rights to the property. New Orleans wanted to use it as a Civic Center, yet the School Board, who was using the building as a warehouse, wanted to open another school. The School Board won, and the second school to inhabit the old courthouse was Ben Franklin High School.

Carrollton Courthouse

Carrollton Courthouse
In 1963, Ben Franklin was the first New Orleans public high school to integrate its students.

Ben Franklin High School was renowned for its highly-competitive coursework. Their exemplary academic performances have developed a high-volume of Rhodes Scholars. The school has even been ranked as a “top public high school in the nation” by several publications. Ben Franklin moved to a larger building in 1989, which allowed Lusher Middle School to step in and take over the campus. Lusher also had an impressive academic output. Their rigorous academic and arts-based programs have been nationally recognized. Like Ben Franklin, Lusher also moved to a different location. Audubon Charter School became the fourth school to occupy the old courthouse in 2006. The school is the only public elementary school in Louisiana to teach the French curriculum that is accredited by the French Government.

Carrollton Courthouse
Before permanently closing in 2013, the aging courthouse had served as a school for over a century.
Carrollton Courthouse
In June of 2015, the National Trust for Historic Preservation brought national attention to the courthouse by naming it one of America’s 11 Most Endangered Places.

Courthouse

7 Replies to “Carrollton Courthouse”

  1. Glad to hear the building will remain in use! Next time I’m in New Orleans, I’ll have to check it out. I was born there and always remembered hearing (as a kid) about Carrollton Ave and Carrollton in general was close to where we lived, however, I never realized it was a separate city, let alone the seat for Jefferson Parrish. Thanks!

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  2. When I lived there as a youth worker I had some students who attended there, and I would pick them up and go right across the street to Camellia Grill for a meal. Never realized the history of their old school, however.

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  3. Amazingly, the author didn’t mention the address of this place. I’ve lived in and near New Orleans for 32 years and have never heard anyone mention it, nor seen it mentioned in print.

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