Blake Pontchartrain: Cor Jesu High School_lowres

The front of Cor Jesu High School.

Hey Blake,

I was watching a WYES-TV documentary on Tom Benson, which mentioned he went to St. Aloysius High School. I know it merged with Cor Jesu to become Brother Martin High School, but what is the history of Cor Jesu?

Dear reader,

  Cor Jesu High School existed for only about 15 years before merging with St. Aloysius to become Brother Martin. All three high schools were operated by the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, as Brother Martin High School is today.

  According to Edward Branley's book Brothers of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans, the religious order first opened St. Aloysius Academy at the corner of Chartres and Barracks streets in 1869. In 1892 the high school moved to N. Rampart Street and Esplanade Avenue. In addition to Benson, who graduated in 1944, other notable alumni include U.S. Sen. Allen J. Ellender and former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Pascal F. Calogero Jr.

  In the 1950s, the Brothers of the Sacred Heart decided to open a second high school in New Orleans: Cor Jesu, Latin for "heart of Jesus." Construction began on a new campus on Elysian Fields Avenue near Gentilly Boulevard. An August 1953 New Orleans Item story reported the school opened that month, but its new building wasn't complete, meaning some 140 Cor Jesu freshmen attended classes at St. Aloysius. The Cor Jesu building opened in September 1954. For the next 15 years, more than 1,300 students attended Cor Jesu. Among them were Archbishop Gregory Aymond and exercise guru Richard Simmons.

  St. Aloysius remained in operation as a separate school until the two institutions were merged in 1969 and St. Aloysius closed its Esplanade Avenue building to relocate to the Gentilly campus. Brother Martin High School was named in honor of Brother Martin Hernandez, who served as principal of St. Aloysius for 15 years and was president of Cor Jesu in 1965. He died in 1991.