The Man Who Saved the French Quarter

Today I visited Tulane University which has an interesting history. It was started in 1834 as the Medical College of Louisiana. It added a law college in 1847 and the state made it the University of Louisiana. Academic departments were added and the University kept growing.

Then the Civil War came. The University was shut down in 1861. When it was reopened in 1865, Louisiana was on hard times and was having a difficult time keeping the university open. That was when Paul Tulane, a local businessman stepped in with a generous donation...so generous they renamed the school Tulane University of Louisiana. Last year it became the only American university to convert from state public to private.

Tulane University will recover and grow--so much so that they will move the campus uptown. That’s why I’m here, to record the current campus.

Well, that’s only part of why I’m here. 27th century Tulane asked me to find their most famous professor, William Woodward. Although only twenty-five, and a Yankee from Massachusetts, he was hired last year to teach fine art, as well as mechanical and architectural drawing.

Woodward is already taking a keen interest in the unique architecture of the French Quarter. He will preserve old New Orleans in his hundreds of paintings, drawings and etchings, capturing the buildings before they are torn down.

However, he will also save the French Quarter in a more concrete sense. In 1895, his campaign will stop the Cabildo from being demolished. He will spearhead a movement to eventually save all of the remaining French Quarter, when laws are passed in the 1920s to make destruction of these historic buildings illegal.

In 1894 William Woodward will found the architecture school of Tulane University and expand its art programs. He will be retire after a tumor removal will leave him in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. He will move to Biloxi, Mississippi and continue to paint and etch, this time of the Gulf Coast, until his death in 1939.

Here are a few of Williams Woodward’s paintings of the French Quarter of New Orleans. No one captured it like he did.

Poydras Market

Old Absinthe House on Bourbon Street

Newcomb College Chapel

Jackson Square

The French Market

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