A Liberty Ship Named Delgado

by: Bob Monie
In 1941, responding to requests from the British, and quoting Patrick Henry's famous words, “give me liberty or give me death,” President Franklin D. Roosevelt directed that the maritime industry in selected  locations throughout the United States begin the construction of an unprecedentedly massive  fleet of cargo ships to supply the allies with war materials. The name “liberty ship” quickly caught on, and though most of these were welded from prefabricated parts at the Henry J. Kaiser plant in Richmond, California, a New Orleans plant, The Delta Ship Yard on the West Bank between Gentilly Road and Florida Ave, also welded together and launched over 180 such ships in little more than 4 years. The forges of Vulcan were nothing to the fires of the countless acetylene torches kept burning day and night, year-long, even through the Christmas holidays, as the welders and other workers—13,000 strong, including more than 400 women--at Delta Ship Yard labored in three shifts daily to turn out liberty ships with such names as the S. S. Julian Poydras and the S. S, Judah Touro for World War II. 

(Fig. 1) The August 12, 1944 Launch of the Liberty Ship, the S.S, Isaac Delgado, from the Delta Ship Yard on the Industrial Canal, West Bank.
Naval historian Peter Elphick describes how the launchings of Liberty Ships from Delta Shipyard  were more exciting to watch then those at other  World War II liberty shipyards  because the narrow launch channel  of the Industrial Canal sent the ships out “sideways,” causing them to “strike the water with such force that the wave created rose to deck height before racing off to swamp the other side of the waterway.” The woman in Fig 2 is Mrs. H. Giles Martin, ship sponsor and wife of the first director of Delgado Trades School. To her left is the distinguished doctor and medical innovator, Rudolph Matas, longtime friend of Isaac Delgado.
(Fig. 2) Mrs. H. Giles Martin, sponsor of the liberty ship and Dr. Rudolph Matas, longtime friend of Isaac Delgado
(Fig. 3) The Crowd Attending the Event and the Reviewing Stand
(Fig. 4) Delta Shipyard Employee, F. Crumb, Pushing the Button to Launch the Isaac Delgado
Shipyard workers took turns serving as  “button pushers” to press the button that would release each new ship out of its dry dock so it could begin sliding into the water.  According to the October 9, 1944 issue of the shipyard's newsletter, The Delta Shipbuilder, a female clerk named F. Crumb had the honor of pushing the button to launch the S. S, Isaac Delgado (see Fig. 3). The ship descended into the water in distinctive New Orleans style, amid drum rolls, fanfares, and march music from The Delta Band, directed by Henry Raymond. The band, situated somewhere behind the reviewing stand in Fig. 4 but  out front for review in Fig. 5, included such stalwart crescent city natives as trombonist Jac Assunto, who would later found the Dukes of Dixieland band, clarinetist Lester Bouchon,  often later  heard performing at the Beachcomber Lounge just 4 blocks from Delgado Trades School, and Joe Grisaffi,  known in the  '50s and '60s as a music instrument repairman at Gruenwald's Music Store in downtown New Orleans. During their time at Delta, each musician doubled in some shipbuilding trade, such as machinist, welder, electrician, draftsperson, painter, or sheet metal worker. These men and women helped win the war.

(Fig. 5) The Delta Shipyard Band Giving a New Orleans Send-Off to the S. S. Isaac Delgado
The Delta Shipbuilder reports that some Delta workers, like Red Goss, a “burner leaderman on Birth 3” in the shipyard, somehow made time within their arduous shift schedules to attend evening courses in acetylene welding at Delgado Trades School in preparation “for the post-war period.”
Their ability to mass-produce liberty ships like the S.S. Isaac Delgado gave them courage that the allies would soon win the war, and their attendance at Delgado let them envision a hopeful future for themselves in the workplace after the war was over. 

Works Consulted

“Button Pushers Who Released Recently Launched Ships.”  The Delta Shipbuilder Oct. 19, 1944:

Elphick, Peter.  Liberty: The Ships That Won the War.  Annapolis, MD: U.S. Naval Institute,

Kelly, John.  “Women Welders at Delta Shipbuilding Co. Receive Award.”  The Times Picayune
        September 12, 2010. 
        Retrieved from <http://www.nola.com/living.index.ssf/2010/09/1943_women_welders_at
        delta sh.html>. 

Kelly, John.  “1944: Delta Shipbuilding Co. Built Liberty Ships during World War II.”  The Times
        Picayune March 17, 2010.
        Retrieved from <http://www.nola.com/living/index.ssf/2010/03/delta_shipbuilding_co_built_li.

“Red Goss, A Burner Leaderman on Berth 3”  The Delta Shipbuilder May 4, 1944: 16.

Williams, E.B.  “The Delta Shipyard.”  Marine Engine and Shipping Review April 1943: 192-201.


The 2000’s – the launch of the new millennium and the global village (Part II)

by: Carol Gniady
Just as U.S. Presidents come and go, so do college chancellors.  In 2004, Dr. J. Terence Kelly departed Delgado to become chancellor of Alamo Community College District in San Antonio, Texas.  His successor was Dr. Alex Johnson from Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, Ohio.  Chancellor Johnson worked quickly to establish relationships with community, business and government leaders.  He also focused on honing Delgado’s potential, identifying the “one college” concept as beneficial to bringing administrators, faculty and staff together to support common, student-centered goals.  Dr. Johnson also piloted the merger of the Louisiana Technical College Region 1 campuses in Orleans, Jefferson and St. Tammany parishes with Delgado, enhancing our technical skills training capabilities.  Within a year’s time all of this groundwork and direction would prove to be priceless preparation for a truly transformative event.

Dr. Alex Johnson on his cell phone outside of Delgado's temporary headquarters after Hurricane Katrina
In August 2005, Delgado was looking at record enrollment of over 17,000 students and classes had just resumed for the new academic year when Hurricane Katrina hit.  The storm’s floodwaters swept in, forcing us to improvise, improve, adapt and change.  With a city-wide evacuation in place no classes were held at any campuses that fall semester as New Orleans and Delgado struggled to recover from devastating conditions.  All students, faculty and staff were displaced, many of whom were far-flung and questioning return at all.  Regardless, Delgado mustered and marshaled on from a borrowed facility on Baton Rouge Community College’s campus and with help from the Louisiana Community and Technical College System offices right next door.  Dr. Johnson led a small group of assembled administrators, faculty and staff and reconnected communications, ensured uninterrupted payroll for Delgado employees, and steered facility recovery efforts.  

Ed McGee trained faculty members on how to use the Blackboard online classroom
Delgado’s Maintenance, Facilities and Planning, and Information Technology departments worked non-stop for months to bring operations back to all locations.  Meanwhile, a herculean effort on the part of faculty and curriculum development leadership produced an abbreviated, free, online semester in early October 2005, roughly six weeks after Katrina, for any students wishing to attempt continuing their coursework in the midst of recovery.   Roughly 2,500 students enrolled in a new slate of online course offerings -- the most Delgado had ever offered which were created quickly by displaced faculty looking to engage and re-connect with students.  Simultaneously, Delgado Charity School of Nursing advisors and administrators worked tirelessly to place students in host programs across the country, enabling them to continue working towards their nursing degrees without interruption. 

Volunteers helped with City Park's Moss Memorial Library remediation
Throughout the Katrina ordeal, Dr. Johnson directed College personnel to be empowered and to make independent decisions to get Delgado back on line as quickly as possible.  The mantra was “do the right thing, for the right reason” and to trust your gut.  This enabled personnel to move beyond comfort zones and take on new challenges, which ultimately led to Delgado’s return to operations with campuses up and running, accepting 10,001 students by January 2006.  We trumpeted the resilience and determination of our Nursing students with an item that ran in our “Delgado Digest” in August 2006:  ALMOST 300 NURSES AWARDED DEGREES SINCE HURRICANE KATRINA.  Delgado Community College’s Charity School of Nursing conducted two compressed semesters for the nursing program between January and July 2006 to assist students in "catching up" on the missed fall semester cancelled by Hurricane Katrina. The program had 160 students graduate in January, 9 in April and 128 in July. This last group finished in just six weeks after their scheduled date, enabling them to enter the workforce immediately, with many remaining in the city to assist in the community’s revitalization. Without these compressed semesters the 128 would have finished in December 2006.

Delgado’s recovery aided New Orleans’ return to normality as students pursued degrees and took steps to better lives, supporting our community through their work and residency.  Katrina left an indelible mark on all, but the College’s forward gaze helps focus on student success and continuing the rich heritage of service to community. 

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at the Jefferson LTC/Delgado Allied Health and Nursing Center of Excellence

In 2007, Dr. Johnson accepted the presidency of the Community College of Allegheny County system in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Dr. Ron Wright joined the College in 2008 and was chancellor in 2010 when Louisiana Technical College Region 1 became Delgado Community College’s Technical Division. This change is providing Delgado students with a seamless, full range of options from technical skills training to comprehensive liberal arts education.  Once again, Delgado is the leader in providing the most progressive technical training in the state, preparing students to take advantage of the numerous jobs in trades such as automotive technology repair and collision repair, barber styling, cosmetology, carpentry, A/C and refrigeration, machine tool technology and welding.  With Technical Division sites located in Metairie, Harvey and New Orleans East added to existing locations at City Park, West Bank, Northshore, Charity School of Nursing and the Maritime, Fire, Radar and Industrial Training facility, Delgado covers all the bases for the greater New Orleans region. 

As the decade came to a close, Delgado celebrated its increased capacity for service through expanded locations and abilities, and the largest enrollment in the College’s history: 18,767 in the fall of 2010.  Twenty-five percent of these students were taking online courses, whereas the College had just begun to offer courses over the Internet in 1996 to only 25 students.  Clearly, the 2000s compressed our world, quickened our pace and enabled greater reach through technological innovations to meet growing trends and student expectations.


A Civic-Minded Man in an Uncivil World: A Profile of Isaac Delgado

by: Bob Monie
An immigrant boy of 14 from Kingston, Jamaica arrived in the seaport town of New Orleans in 1854, lived through the Civil War, the federal occupation of New Orleans under General Benjamin  “Beast” Butler, the Reconstruction period, the rancorous political strife between Radical Republicans and Democrats, the bitter enmity between Creoles on one side of Canal Street and Americans on the other, the murder of New Orleans Police Chief David Hennessey, the race riot of 1900, and several yellow fever epidemics, including the last in 1905. Rising above all this turmoil, he set his mind to work and save, and when his savings were great enough, he applied the wealth judiciously to improve what is now called “the built environment” of the city.

Fig 1  Silver tankard awarded to Isaac Delgado's great uncle, Moses Delgado in 1831, after he had helped secure full political freedom for the Jews of Jamaica
Fig. 2  Isaac Delgado in dapper attire, possibly ready for motor car trip to Atlantic City
Isaac Delgado, the eldest of 12 children born to Henry Delgado in 1839, wanted even as a boy in Jamaica to establish himself as an independent, self-made entrepreneur and leave a tangible permanent legacy to posterity.  He took pleasure in finding fundamental. long-lasting solutions to life's problems, always with an accountant's eye for detail, dollars and cents.  Rather than give speeches and pat people on the back, Delgado would in the course of his lifetime, quietly, behind the scenes, found and endow a hospital building and several clinics, a museum of art, and a trades school that would become the second largest educational institution in the state. According to historian Prescott Dunbar, Isaac's  great uncle, Moses Delgado, had, in 1831, successfully petitioned the British government to achieve political freedom for Jews in Jamaica and received a handsome silver tankard for his efforts. But Isaac aspired to seek his fortune away from his native island, to leave the old world of European colonial politics and island culture far behind (see Fig  1). At age 14 he announced that he would help relieve his father's burden of supporting such a large family by joining his uncle Samuel in New Orleans and, as far as possible, support himself. Samuel got Isaac a job as a bookkeeper's clerk for a steamship agency and welcomed him into his home at 218 Philip along Mississippi River in what is today the Warehouse District.  When Samuel purchased a residence at in the Garden District, at 1220 Philip St., across from Trinity Episcopal Church, Isaac relocated with his aunt and uncle, eventually inherited the property, and lived there until his death (Fig 2.)

Fig 3.  Issac and Samuel Delgado in front of the main office of Delgado and Co.  at 201-203 N. Peters St.

Fig 4.  The N. Peters St. part of Sugar Row as it appears today.  The  old Delgado and Co. office
            building at 201-203 N. Peters is on the left, next to the Custom House.

Fig 5.   Close view of building at 201-203 N. Peters St. as it appears today.
Delgado's ancestors in Jamaica, prominent members of the Sephardic Jewish community, had been successful merchants in the sugar industry there. Isaac's uncle, Samuel, arriving in the New Orleans in 1850, saw the potential to apply his knowledge of sugar trading in the rapidly growing sugar market of the city.  Sugar brokers set up offices by the Custom House and the sugar loading docks near the river end of Bienville and Iberville Streets. Soon this area was called the Sugar District, and N. Front and N. Peters streets from Canal St. to Toulouse St. or a little beyond were called Sugar Row.  Samuel established the sugar brokerage of Delgado and Company, first at 29 Natchez St. and 25 N. Peters St. and, from 1887 till his death, shared an office with Isaac in a building behind the Custom House on Sugar Row at 201-203 N. Peters  (Figs. 3, 4, & 5).  From at least as early as 1889, Isaac ran the company when his uncle was away on business trips. In 1883, Samuel helped found the New Orleans Sugar Exchange at 305 N. Front St., and Delgado & Co. later had an office next door (see Figs. 6 & 7).  Samuel was twice elected president of the exchange. In 1903, a horse-drawn dray struck Samuel on Canal Street, his health deteriorated , and he died on May 12, 1905 (see Fig 8). Building on his uncle's knowledge and reputation, Isaac, along with George Boutcher, Samuel Snodgrass, and George Allain, incorporated the business as Delgado and Co, Inc. and continued to use the 201-203 N. Peters St. location as their main office space. By 1885, Delgado had acquired the Albania Sugar Plantation in Jenerette, Louisiana, through mortgage foreclosure. He sent manager Alan Allain to rebuild the plantation and update its sugar refining equipment.  The plantation continued to operate at a profit for many years, and would, as Delgado directed in his will, help provide support for Delgado Central Trades School, which opened several years after his death. Delgado's main wealth, however, came from his success as a sugar broker in New Orleans.

Fig. 6.  Post card showing the Sugar Exchange  at 305 N. Front Street (corner of Bienville) that Samuel and Isaac Delgado helped establish. Noted New Orleans  James Freret designed the building, which 'was widely acclaimed for its style.  Delgado and Co. had an office and a  small warehouse at 315 N. Front, adjacent to the Sugar Exchange. 

Fig 7.   North Front St. section of Sugar Row as it appeared around 1910.  The large building
             at the extreme left is the American Sugar Refinery.  To its right are the New Orleans
             Sugar Exchange and one of the Delgado and Co. offices.

Fig 8.   Dray carts at the turn of the century hauling produce through the French Quarter near the Sugar District. 
 An advertisement for Delgado and Co reflects Isaac's pragmatic insight into the sugar market and eye for detail (Fig. 9). The ad not only lists the products of sugar, syrup, and molasses for sale along with the container sizes; it specifically targets customer groups that would need sweeteners. Following a rule that might loosely be summarized as “know yourself, know your product, know your customer,” the ad addresses bakers, canners, meat processors, bread and cracker makers and others likely to buy the sweeteners in volume but does not neglect those interested in the smaller market for ordinary “table use.”  No special claims are made for the products.  Following the Renaissance motto of “good wine needs no sign,” Delgado would simply say, “the products speak for themselves,” supported of course by his relentless efforts at the Sugar Exchange to inspect them and maintain quality control.

Fig, 9.   Advertisement for Delgado and Co.  that directly targets buyers likely to use sweeteners.
Fig. 10.  Isaac's friends Elleonora Moss and Dr. Rudolph Matas at the 1944 launch of the S.S. Isaac Delgado liberty ship. (Both lived to be nearly 100.)

Fig. 11.   The Delgado Memorial Building at Charity Hospital.
 An important woman in Isaac's life and philanthropic career was the independently wealthy, free-thinker Elleonora Moss, an unlikely Garden District admirer of Emerson and Thoreau who, at the first Founder's Day celebration on November 23, 1921, urged Delgado Central Trades School students to be honest workers with their hands rather than mere quibblers in words (Fig 10). A lifelong bachelor, Isaac was generally believed to be shy and uninterested in women but had no reservations accepting Elleonora as a friend and confidante. Only with his introduction to Elleonora does Isaac's career as a publicly known benefactor begin.  She had been the closest friend of his Aunt Virginia at the time of Virginia's death in 1906, and she helped console Isaac during this difficult period, perhaps even suggesting that he augment the sum of $20,000 left to Charity Hospital from his aunt's estate with an additional $180,000 of his own to create The Delgado Memorial Building at Charity, a fitting tribute to his beloved uncle and aunt (see Fig. 11). Moss was a lifelong friend of Dr. Rudolph Matas, Isaac's personal physician and a leading physician of the day, associated with Charity Hospital and Tulane Medical School. Delgado gladly sat on the platform and let Dr. Matas make the speech for him at the December 19, 1908 dedication of the Delgado Memorial. When a newspaper reporter suggested to Delgado that his increasing reputation might spell the beginning of a great political career, Delgado cut him short with the statement that he “would absolutely refuse to accept a public office were it tendered to me, even to being governor of Louisiana.”  Ever a man of his word, this was no exception: Delgado was not to be a politician, and that was that. He also downplayed whatever religious affiliations he may have had. Despite his Jewish heritage, he, like many leading businessmen of his day, attended services at Trinity Episcopal Church on Jackson Ave, within walking distance of his home. But his charitable contributions were public and non-sectarian., intended to benefit, as he sometimes said, “rich and poor alike” and all faiths.  

Fig. 12.    Pierre Lelong, owner of  sugar brokerage firm Lelong and Co., helped induce the City Park Board of Commissioners to provide the land for the Delgado Museum of Art

Fig. 13.    Delgado Museum of Art postcard showing Beau-Art building designed by Samuel A. Marx
Delgado, suffering from nephritis and consequent loss of eyesight, liked to be read to by Elleonora as they were driven around the city in his pre-Model T car. On one occasion, while passing the Howard Library at Lee Circle, Moss said that Isaac's aunt Virginia had confided to her a wish that New Orleans ought to have a museum for the public display of artworks, and she added that such a place might be able to house the many items of art and furnishings Isaac had bought for his aunt that were still kept at the Garden District residence. Delgado, excited by the prospect of building a “temple of art” for the public as well as providing a room to care for his aunt's collection after his death,  took up the question of finding land for the museum with his friend and fellow broker on Sugar Row, Pierre (Paul) A. Lelong  who was, like Delgado, a fellow member of the Boston Club, the Chess, Checkers, and Whist Club, co-founder of the New Orleans Sugar Exchange, and a member of the City Park board of commissioners. Lelong easily secured the land, and  Delgado agreed with the board that the museum building design should be decided by open contest.  He and the board chose the “tropical” Beau-Arts design submitted by 24-year-old Samuel A. Marx from Chicago (See Fig 13). This handsome building still houses the museum, altered by some modern extensions and re-named the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA).  However, Aunt Virginia's and Isaac's taste in painting, porcelain, and furniture did not stand the test of time.  Delgado had always generously agreed to purchase art and furniture to suit Virginia, but those acquisitions, often ponderously Victorian, were not what curators would have purchased for a public museum and did not compare in artistic value with collections later donated by Benjamin Morgan Harrod and Morgan Whitney. In fact, one director of the museum, Arthur Feitel, described the Delgado Room where the items were kept as a “terrible hodgepodge of copies of furniture, bric-a-brac and paintings.” In time, items that Virginia and Isaac had liked so much quietly disappeared from the museum exhibits, but the memory of his generosity remained. 

Fig. 14.    1928 Aerial View of City Park flanked by Delgado Central Trades School and Delgado
                 Museum of Art.
In 1909, that philanthropic muse, Elleonora Moss, once again whispered a wish into Delgado's ear that he would transform into a building.  A newspaper article on the trades school movement, possibly by educational theorist Nicholas Bauer (later to become Superintendent of New Orleans public schools) caught Ms. Moss's eye.  When Delgado told her that he wasn't sure where to direct his fortune “to do the most good” after his death, Moss shared the information in the article with him.  He said only, “Yes, I would love to give a boy a trade,” and, on October 11, 1909, had his attorney,  John Dymond, add  a codicil to his will for funding “a school to be called Isaac Delgado Central Trades School,” and made certain that the money would not be used for any other purpose. (Fig. 14)

On January 4, 1912 Isaac Delgado died at his Garden District home.   Although Francis T. Nicholls, governor of Louisiana, died the same day, the January 5 edition of The Daily Picayune gave virtually equal, front-page photographic and journalistic coverage to the passing of Delgado, with the headline, ISAAC DELGADO'S DEATH THE CITY'S GREAT LOSS.  In retrospect, his charitable offerings to the city were staggering.  His public bequests during his lifetime were $180,000 for the building at Charity Hospital, $150,000 for the Delgado Museum, and, in his will, he left another $100,000 to Charity Hospital, $100,000 to the Eye, Ear, and Nose Hospital, $10,000 to the New Orleans Convalescents' Home, as well as the “residue” of his estate, amounting to almost $800,000 plus regular payments from the operation of the Albania Plantation, to be used for the construction of Isaac Delgado Central Trades School. Such largess was impressive even compared with John McDonough's bequest of $750,000 in 1850 to build public schools.  A marble plaque once displayed at Charity Hospital  underscores the magnitude of Delgado's  altruism (Fig. 15).  His contribution of $180,000 is more than twice that of any other donor listed and several times more than that of such well-known, admirably charitable men as Frank T. Howard and Tomy Lafon.  

Fig.  15.   Marble tablet from Charity Hospital main building lists names of donors,, including Isaac Delgado and amounts donated.
Upon his death, Delgado's business partners lined up to eulogize him.  His vice-president, George Boutcher, recalled the many times he had seen Delgado “give away $5,000 or $10,000 which the public never knew anything about, and he always counseled those that did to keep quiet about it.”  Boutcher added that Delgado “never broke an engagement and was never late for one.”  His treasurer, Samuel Snodgrass, remarked that Delgado was “always ready to listen … and never spoke ill of another where it would do harm.”  Alfred Olson, a “personal attendant” who lived with Delgado during his last years, recalled riding with him on an automobile round-trip journey to Atlantic City recommended by his doctor, Rudolph Matas.  Such a long ride in a “horseless carriage” was a fairly adventurous undertaking in the first decade of the 20th century yet emblematic of the simple pleasures that Isaac enjoyed, such as attending the French Opera, playing a game of checkers at the Chess, Checkers, and Whist Club, listening to early Edison recordings on his Victrola, studying the market for sugar products, or making money and using it to benefit others (Figs. 16 & 17).

Fig.  16.   Old French Opera House  often attended by Isaac Delgado

Fig.  17.  New Orleans Chess, Checkers, and Whist Club. Delgado was a charter member of this club, where perhaps more business deals were made than on the golf course. 
Delgado could have disposed of his fortune --about $25 million in 2011 dollars-- in many ways rather than create the public institutions he did, open to rich and poor alike. He could have given his money to Tulane University or Trinity Episcopal Church or any Jewish synagogue or spent it on more luxurious quarters for himself in the Garden District, or frolicked and gambled it away on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City, or distributed it all to his surviving relatives. But in his precise, cool, laser-focused way he chose, perhaps in response to promptings from his friend, Elleonora Moss, to provide hospital relief for the suffering, a “temple of art,” for the multitude, and a free school where boys could learn a trade. He rose above the rival claims of class, politics, and religious intolerance in his own time and never identified with any “ism,” right or left, even Elleonora's Transcendentalism. A talented businessman who knew how to make money, how to save it, and how to give it away when the time came; a wise man who could remain above the soul-shredding disputes of his time, he did many decent things with many decent results. Always intending his bequests to benefit the people of the City of New Orleans, he was above all a civic-minded man in an often uncivil world. For that, we are grateful and honor him on his birthday, November 23--Delgado Founder's Day (see Fig 18).

Fig. 18.    Delgado students celebrating Founder's Day in 1969, at the Metairie Cemetery grave site of Isaac, Samuel, and Virginia Delgado

 Works Consulted

“Albania Plantation” (Special Correspondence).  The Louisiana Planter and Sugar Manufacturer (1902)
        23: 303. 

Campanalla, Richard. New Orleans Then and Now.  New Orleans: Pelican, 1999.

Campanalla, Richard. Time and Place in New Orleans: Past Geographies in the Present Day. New 
        Orleans: Pelican, 2002.

“Delgado School to Open on Namesake's Birthday.”  The Times-Picayune 9 Nov. 1921, pg. 14.

Dodge, Louis A.  Isaac Delgado Central Trades School and Its Founder.  New Orleans: Delgado
        Press, 1928.

Deutsch, Hermann.  “Elleonora Moss.”  The Times Picayune 9 Aug. 1960, pg. 14.

Dunbar, Prescott.  The New Orleans Museum of Art: The First Seventy-Five Years. Baton Rouge:
         LSU P, 1990. 

Garthwaite, Elloyse and Tom Ireland.  Isaac Delgado: His Life and Impact on New Orleans amd the
         State of Louisiana.  New Orleans: Delgado, 1960.

Hill, David Spence. Vocational Survey for the Isaac Delgado Central Trades School.  New Orleans:
          The Commission Council, 1914. 

Kendall, John.  History of New Orleans.  New Orleans, Lewis Press, 1922.

Moss, Elleonora E. “Address by Miss Eleonora Moss Presenting the Portrait of Isaac Delgado
           at the Dedication Exercises of the Isaac Delgado Central Trades School Wednesday,
           November 23, 1921,” in Louis Dodge's The Isaac Delgado Central Trades School and
           Its Founder.  New Orleans, LA, Delgado Press, 1937: 15. 

Patureau, Stephen.  A History of the Isaac Delgado Central Trades School. Masters Thesis, Tulane
          University, 1939.

Program.  “Dedication of the Delgado Memorial [Charity Hospital].” Saturday, December 19,
     2:00 P.M. New Orleans, 1908.

Reeves, Sally and William Reeves.  History of City Park New Orleans.  New Orleans: City Park
          Improvement Association, 2000. 

Report of the Board of Administrators of Charity Hospital to the General Assembly of the State of
           Louisiana, 1915.  http://www.tulane.edu/~matas/CHR/CHR1915.pdf.  

Rosenberg, Malcolm Francis.  The Orleans Parish Public Schools Under the Superintendency of
          Nicholas Bauer.  Diss. LSU, 1963. 

Salvaggio, John E.  New Orleans' Charity Hospital: A Story of Physicians, Politics, and Poverty.
    Baton Rouge: LSU, 1992.

Thames, Marvin E.  Sr.  The History of the Isaac Delgado Central Trades School.   Diss. LSU, 1957.


Isaac Delgado Hall...A Symbol of Delgado for 90 Years (and Counting...)

by: Tyler Scheuermann
Each day, the doors are unlocked and the lights are turned on, and its halls and classrooms are populated. Students have filed through its doors to seek their education and generations of teachers have taught in its classrooms. For 90 years, Isaac Delgado Hall has been at the center of Delgado’s mission and its founder’s legacy.

When Isaac Delgado passed away in 1912, he left behind a sizable fortune and a dream. Delgado, a Jamaican immigrant and philanthropist, had already left his mark on New Orleans with numerous civic engagements, including a new hospital and a new art museum.

Issac Delgado, Delgado's founder and benefactor and the namesake of its signature building
On numerous occasions and conversations with his friend and confidante Elleonora Moss, Isaac had expressed a desire to leave something of value behind to the youth of New Orleans. While browsing the newspaper one day, Elleonora happened across an article advertising summer trade courses at a local public school. When she brought the idea of a trade school to Delgado, Isaac is quoted as saying, “Yes, I would love to give a boy a trade.”

Provisions were made and upon his death, approximately $800,000, a sizable portion of his estate, was set aside for the establishment of a trade school for boys, under the auspices of the City of New Orleans.

Almost immediately, city officials began scouring the city for a suitable location for the school, the first of its kind in the southern United States. The City of New Orleans chose its resident architect, E.A. Christy, to prepare suitable sites and drawings. A study and recommendation (similar to today’s feasibility studies) directed that the architect consider several important factors when designing the school:
E.A. Christy, architect for city of New Orleans and Delgado Central Trade School
  • It should be an enduring memorial to the good will of its founder.
  • Buildings should be designed for easy floor plan modification and repurposing.
  • Design should be distinctive in character but simple in décor.
  • Site should allow for future expansion, past 900 students.
  • Building should be fireproof (an Isaac Delgado trademark).
  • Building should be a three-story building with vaulted ceilings for easy ventilation.
City Park Campus expansions through the years

A great overhead shot of Isaac Delgado Hall and adjacent City Park, less than a mile from the Delgado Museum of Art

City Park Avenue sign

When the time came to choose a site, the planning committee recommended a site easily accessible from multiple surrounding areas, a site free from noise, dust, or “bad air,” a site removed from immoral surroundings, a site easily accessible by carriage and/or “horseless carriages,” and a site of moderate land value to allow for large acreages to be purchased. It was suggested to explore the area in and around City Park, where a previous Delgado gift, the Museum of Art, was already situated and blossoming.

Early auditorium

Early Delgado students work to finish construction near the present day drama hall

Building 1 during the final stages of its construction

A land trade between the City and City Park allowed for a 57-acre campus, now known as Delgado’s City Park Campus. The site was chosen because it met all of the requirements and was “one of the most charming and convenient of all of the schools.” It was also centrally located, which allowed for future population shifts and was easily accessible by a new streetcar line that connected downtown and City Park, passing just in front of the front doors of the school.

Just as plans were on paper and financing was secured, World War I interrupted the start of construction. Once the city allowed construction to commence, a contract of $638,500 was accepted from John Chisolm and Company and construction began. The final costs of the building, its furniture, and equipment was estimated at $1 million…a lot of money in those days.

An early photo of the facade of Building 1, complete with its signature palm trees

Isaac Delgado Hall's history spans nine decades, including the dawn of the automobile as the transportation method of choice

Building 1 and the first class of students and faculty on opening day 1921

Lantern and historical marker
As a cost saving measure, it was decided that interior finishes would be left as part of the curriculum for the students to construct and complete.

Isaac Delgado Hall was formally dedicated on November 23, 1921 (Isaac’s birthday), less than two months after classes formally began at the site. Capacity crowds swamped the building and its state-of-the-art auditorium, a marvel of engineering and functionality in its day.

The exterior of the building remains almost intact from when constructed. The three-story, tan brick structure was rather ornate for its day. The façade’s defining features were and still are a large ornamental window (to allow natural light into the auditorium), two cast iron lanterns near the main entrance, and an eagle overlooking the main entrance. The eagle is probably a remnant of the patriotic fever that swept the nation following its victory in the Great War.

The inside of the building has been modified through the years to accommodate classrooms and offices as opposed to the shops and workshops present at its opening. A major renovation in the 1980s modernized and expanded the building by closing in its central courtyard and adding an annex on each side on the rear. Continuous upgrades and renovations keep the building operational and modernized to keep with its hectic and constant schedule.

In 2006, Isaac Delgado Hall was placed on the National Register of Historic Places for its distinctive style of architecture and its place in the history of the City of New Orleans.

Early faculty

From its days of hosting heavy machinery and airplane construction, today’s math, English, and business classes, Isaac Delgado Hall has stood the test of time, adapting to the school’s changes in mission and hosting hundreds of thousands in its hallways and classrooms. From its humble beginnings with several hundred students, the building is now the central icon of a multi-campus college that boasts the second largest enrollment in the state of Louisiana. Appropriately, the building is now often called “Building One”, which seems to say it all.

Isaac Delgado Hall represents Delgado Community College…nine decades of stability, with a stronger foundation for the future.

Building 1 today


Isaac Delgado: A study on his impact to the State of Louisiana

Vocational Survey for the Isaac Delgado Central Trades School

The American School Board Journal, August 1921


The 2000’s – the launch of the new millennium and the global village (Part I)

by: Carol Gniady
Y2K and the threat of computers crashing around the world when the dawn of the 2000’s arrived was all we heard about as we bid adieu to 1999.  A massive, worldwide crisis scenario where nothing would work because of a simple computer glitch cast the new millennium in a dark, foreboding light.  Thankfully, the Y2K doomsday prediction didn’t amount to anything.  But it did change the way most of us viewed our world and how our actions locally could potentially reverberate globally.  Most notably, we recognized technology’s growing importance and saw our connectivity to others was now possible on vastly accelerated and expanded levels.

For Delgado, the decade brought a host of technological change and growth.  Delgado introduced its first website in 1996 followed shortly by electronic mail, which we all now just call “e-mail”.  The College’s first webmaster per se was Charles Duffy, who tinkered with web design on the side of his then full -time job of Director of Institutional Research.  The first website provided basic information but certainly set our course for tapping into rich resources and serving students via the World Wide Web (www). 

E-mail proved to be a blessing and a curse as Mdaemon, the e-mail system used early on was undependable, and the college was networked via coaxial cable, which was faster and better than dial-up.

The ease and speed of e-mails also resulted in new communication etiquette and protocol issues, including anticipated response time.  We learned what Spam was and what dangers may lurk in unexpected, innocent seeming attachments that could unleash viruses, worms, and all things technologically vile with the potential to completely shut down operations across the College, and beyond.

Computers also morphed beyond word processing and database storage to become an essential business partner for College employees and students.  From desktop to laptop to smartphones and iPads computers have evolved to meet our wildest expectations for convenience and immediacy.  For those of us old enough to remember Dick Tracey’s space-aged wristwatch, things that seemed to be pure fantasy are now commonplace. 

 “Floppy” disks went the way of the dodo bird, with “thumb” drives perhaps soon to follow now that we have the new, ethereal “cloud” storage systems, which require no other hardware than your preferred method of access – computer, cell phone, iPad, etc. 

Technology’s expanding breadth also made us more available and “24/7 access” entered our vocabulary and expectations.   Once we were tethered to beepers, but now cell phones are ubiquitous.  Answering machines?  Replaced by voicemail.  Leaving a message or reaching someone can now be as easy as sending a text.  In fact, text messaging has become the alert system of choice for many institutions, including Delgado, due to its immediacy when rapid response is crucial.

Dr. J. Terence Kelly was Delgado’s Chancellor 1998 to 2003.  During his tenure the College embraced the innovations technology brought to business infrastructure and to academics.  Under Dr. Kelly, the “Computer Center” changed from a department that focused on data capture and generation to the Office of Information Technology, which revolutionized the way we worked and studied, particularly by integrating web-based functionality and guiding the College’s rapid growth of technology and it many applications.

The new OIT department implemented several important upgrades, facilitating the rapid evolution of the College’s technological environment.  Delgado moved from using coaxial cable to high speed fiber optics, to Ethernet, and wireless “Wi-Fi” and each migration increased capacity, broadened the scope of internet and network use to keep up with our growing reliance on technology.  By the 1990’s, financial accounting and student information systems were standard operating procedure at Delgado, replacing many hands-on and paper processes while simultaneously improving financial record keeping and sharing, student services such as registration, grades, and records.  By the 2000’s, Delgado was light years’ ahead of many of our institutional peers in our recognition of technology’s value and our implementation of innovative IT platforms and services.  It became obvious that IT would continue to play a huge role and we marveled at how quickly technology and software became obsolete, requiring ongoing upgrades and a watchful eye on the latest developments, products, and emerging needs. 

Technology was also integrated into teaching and learning in the classroom.  Most notably, our Nursing program was one of the first in the country to use a Human Patient Simulator to train students how to recognize and treat symptoms and reactions.  Our first HPS was named “Kelly,” in honor of Dr. Kelly, who helped secure a $250,000 grant for its acquisition.  “Kelly” has the capacity to be configured as either a male or female and provides students with valuable hands-on training in simulated health crisis and care scenarios.  HPS have become widely used throughout the country and today Delgado boasts a number of them, including additional adult HPS’s, an infant, child, and even a canine HPS that is now in use for the College’s Veterinary
Tech program.


Simulators also help Delgado’s Workforce Development and Education instructors to train mariners in ship navigation, radar, tow boat operation, crane operation, and emergency response.  The maritime ship simulator features an exact replication of the Mississippi River channel for the New Orleans region via computer generated graphics and is also able to simulate every imaginable weather condition, time of day, and ship traffic situation or emergency. 

  On the nation’s agenda was the 2000 presidential race pitting Al Gore, a Democrat and then sitting Vice President under Bill Clinton, against Texas Republican Governor George Bush.  Gore made a campaign stop at Delgado Community College in September, 2000, making his case for “lock box” social security and investment in workforce development.

Once again technology, or in this case the apparent lack thereof, would be a major factor as the tight race came down to Florida’s voting outcomes.  Their antiquated system of punch cards and the weeks spent scrutinizing “hanging chads” kept the nation in suspense.  The tally was hand-totaled, debated, recounted, and finally, 36 days after election-day, George W. Bush was ratified and elected our 43rd President.  Bush served in this capacity from 2001 until 2009, steering the country beyond the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001 and into years’ long warfare with Afghanistan and Iraq.

The November 27, 2000 issue of Bloomberg Business answers the question… 

Part II of the 2000’s to come…