300 Mcdonogh

A cartoon portrays McDonogh as miserly.

Historic New Orleans Collection

Miserly and reclusive in life, John McDonogh was celebrated and known as generous after his death.

McDonogh was a native of Baltimore who in 1800 was sent by his employers to trade goods be-tween to Liverpool, England, and Louisiana. After a second successful trip, McDonogh decided to make his home in the new American territory. He later sold his business and purchased thousands of acres around New Orleans on which he farmed cotton. He relied on slave labor, but set up a system by which his slaves could buy their freedom.

After failing at a bid for U.S. Senate in 1818, he moved to the west bank of the Mississippi River, living in what would become McDonoghville, between Algiers Point and Gretna. He lived the rest of his life there as a miser.

When he died in 1850, he left $2 million New Orleans and Baltimore to build public schools for white and freed black children. New Orleans built 30 schools. Baltimore built one. Many of the school buildings still stand today, but only a few bear his name, including McDonogh 35 and McDonogh 26 in Gretna. McDonogh also left land that would become City Park to the city of New Orleans.