Legendary Locals of Metairie

Chapter 2 - Movers and Shakers

This website contains excerpts along with some of the 172 photographs in Legendary Locals of Metairie (Arcadia Publishing, 2013) by Catherine Campanella.
Use the links here to explore a sample of the book -- or purchase it for an in-depth view.


By 1920 the vast majority of Metairie was still uninhabited. A 1923 advertisement by United Realty noted that “New Orleans is one of the few cities in the U.S. having no suburbs. This condition can not go on forever”.

During the 1920s Crestmont Park, Beverly Knoll, Livingston Place, and Metairie Club Gardens opened on the river-side of Metairie Road encompassing land roughly from the parish line to Labarre Road. Enormous profits came to many. For example, Peter Stifft, who was custodian of notarial records for Orleans Parish, purchased land known as Crestmont Park in 1908 for $20,000, sold some in 1915 and the remainder in 1923 to Guaranty Investment Company for $100,000.

In 1923 Crestmont Park developer Alfred F. Theard boasted “city convenience, or better, at suburban prices” with “the beauty & attractiveness of the country” on “homesites of 50 foot frontage from $600 to $1650...at the Crest of the Ridge”. Real estate salesman James C. Everhardt noted “Metairie is the St. Charles Avenue of the future” and that Catholic church (St. Catherine) would be be erected in Crestmont Park (he was wrong). The streets in the subdivision were named Glenwood, Hollywood, Rosewood, and Ridgewood, Ellis, Fairmont, and Crestmont.

Wealthy wholesale grocer Henry Thomas Cottam Jr. donated 50 acres of his Metairie Road fronting property plus $100,000 in 1923 for construction of a Charity Hospital convalescent facility. The parish school board petitioned to secure 9.14 acres of it to expand Metairie High School, add a gymnasium, and build athletic fields. The police jury voted against a hospital of any kind near a residential neighborhood but the school did expand but not until 1946 were Cottam Park lots were offered for sale (by Dale & Northrup). Favored advertising lingo noted it was “Adjoining Farnham Place” and added the typical “Enjoy Country Life in the City”. A new home sold there in 1947 for $14,000. The streets were named Holly, Cedar, Mulberry, Sycamore, Magnolia, Fairmont, and Cottam Drive.

Beverly Knoll, subdivided in 1923 by the Elvis Realty Co and marketed by United Realty, is bounded by Metairie Road, Loumor Avenue, Jefferson Avenue, and Labarre Drive. Beverly Knoll streets also include Beverly, Glendale, Arlington, Dorrington, Atherton, Mildred, Dolores, Avalon, Elshor, and Brentwood.

Undeveloped land between Beverly Knoll and Crestmont Park was owned by Dominican College of Louisiana. The archdiocese planned to build its seminary there but instead sold the land for $65,000 to a residential developer who would market Livingston Place subdivision. Its first property (two 25-foot lots) was sold in1926 by J. L. Ornarato for $3750. Streets include the Livingstons, Mildred, Dolores, and Loumar.

Metairie Club Gardens, bounded by Air-Line Highway, Duplessis Street, and Friedrichs Avenue was developed in 1926. Early transactions included a home-site purchased by Dr. Leo Burthe from Pipes and Johnson and Friedrichs and Dupas for $10,000 and Mr. Ludwigs completed home at a cost of $35,000. The 13 1/2 acre Metairie Park Country Day school was founded in 1929. Before it opened headmaster Ralph E. Boothby moved from Hudson, Ohio to 319 Metairie Ridge Road .

Bridgedale was named for a structure which had yet to exist – The Huey P. Long bridge. In 1925 streets were being constructed but only south of Airline Highway between Transcontinental, Central, and Jefferson Highway.

Movement to the north of Metairie Road was heralded by United Realty which gushed in 1924 “The Riviera of New Orleans lies right at your door – The Hammond Highway (planned from New Orleans to Hammond) will put New Orleans on the coast” and informed in 1925 that the proposed 180 foot-wide Harlem Drive (now Causeway Boulevard) would connect Metairie Road to the highway. Although Causeway now needs no introduction, United Realty played it safe... “drive two blocks past the new Cumberland Telephone building [on the still unpaved Metairie Road] and you will notice two large signs on the right. That is Harlem Avenue”. Lots in the new development were a bargain at $135. Metairie Nursery sites were also on the market in 1924 for $75 to $300, as were Brockenbraugh Court subdivision sites from $350 to &600, and Old Homestead lots for $425-$900.

By 1927 Brockenbraugh Court, north of Cottam Park, had been fully developed and an extension with 400 lots at 25x120 feet was planned by Albert J. Vallon & Co. Inc. Meanwhile 38 lots in Sierra Place were marketed by Sierra Realty Co. owned by F. V. Sierra, H. G. Hollander, and J. B. Garvey. They sold property on Metairie Road at $90 per foot and on Causeway for $80 per foot. Sierra Place boundaries are Metairie Road, Causeway Boulevard, and Roman Street.

By 1927 Bonnabel Place suburb, east of Bonnabel Boulevard running from Metairie Road to the lake was marketed by Joseph F. Turnbull with lots selling from $200 to $400. Bonnabel Boulevard was under construction but Metairie Road had been paved and the streetcar still ran along it. Turnbull touted his community as amenable for young families by advertising the nearby Metairie Ridge School, St. Catherine's church and school, and Metairie Presbyterian Church.

The Jefferson Parish Police Jury opened the first section of Airline Highway in 1927. It ran from Williams Boulevard to Shrewsbury Road and continued along Metairie Road to the city. Airline Highway south of Metairie Road was not completed until 1928. With other new major roads built or proposed during the 1920s (Harlem/Causeway, Transcontinental, Clearview Parkway) a commute to the city was much more palatable and so Metairie's first building boom occurred in this decade.

While new folks moved into Metairie gambling was thriving. A 1925 Times-Picayune article noted that “Out in the suburbs, but patronized by Orleanians, are the de luxe places” It described one of many – Dominick Tranchina's Beverly Gardens on Metairie Road where “the gambling equipment is the finest” and an “excellent orchestra” fronts a “brilliantly polished dance floor” and “a few hundred yards down Metairie Road” was the Victory Inn.

Some newly arrived residents lobbied to remove the gambling establishments, formed a committee, petitioned to incorporate as a municipality which could enforce laws which Jefferson Parish officials ignored, and in 1926 were issued a charter for the town of Metairie Ridge. They chose C. P. Aicklen as their mayor whose announced that he would shut down the gambling houses. Gaming figures then lobbied to overturn the charter. In November 1928 the Supreme Court of Louisiana decided that the city had been illegally incorporated because too few residents had signed the petition. The only notable official action by Mayor Aicklen was the turning of a valve in 1928 at the 17th Street Canal near Metairie Road which brought natural gas to all constituents via 9-mile pipe.

Aside from gambling in the 1920s, Metairie was relatively crime free but some ladies were upset by the actions of some visitors as described in an August 19, 1927 article which read “Plans were discussed, to rid the streets and roads of the city of Metairie of the numerous petting parties of young men and women of New Orleans who are using these dimly lighted places as parking grounds, at a meeting of the Women's Civic Auxiliary of Metairie Thursday night at the home of Mrs. G. L. Sheen, Friedrichs Avenue”. We ring in the roaring 20s in this chapter which meanders to the late 1950s, when even newer subdivisions, businesses, schools, churches, and gambling houses were born.

Other books by Catherine Campanella:

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book is dedicated to the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation's efforts to rebuild and maintain the historic New Canal Lighthouse.

Excerpts from New Orleans City Park  (Images of America).

Contact Catherine Campanella