The Building

1307 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd

In 1910, a new modern school, McDonogh No. 38, was built in Central City on Dryades Street, now Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard, to replace two smaller schools on the property. The architect for the City of New Orleans, E.A. Christy, designed a beautiful Arts & Crafts building with large banks of windows and high ceilings. The elementary school was later renamed for Myrtle Rosabella Banks, a long-time educator and principal, and served the neighborhood until it was closed in 2002 by the School Board. In 2008, a major fire destroyed the roof and much of the 3rd floor, leaving the building exposed to the elements and further deterioration for several years. 

Alembic Community Development acquired the historic school in 2011, and began construction in 2013 on an adaptive reuse program to transform the building into a home for fresh food, the arts, nonprofits and small businesses. The Myrtle Banks Building has been selected for a 2015 Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation by the Louisiana Landmarks Society and 
an Alliant Build America Award by the Associated General Contractors of America.