Why is there a lighthouse downtown on Camp Street? It seems like an unusual location for one. When was it in use?
The lighthouse at 743 Camp St. never was used to guide mariners at sea. It was built as a metaphor for a beacon for blind people in this area: Lighthouse for the Blind. The local organization was founded in 1915 to train people with vision impairments for jobs producing items such as mops and brooms to be sold to the public as a fundraiser. Originally known as the Louisiana Commission for the Blind and later the Louisiana Workshop for the Blind, it changed its name to Lighthouse for the Blind in 1920.
A fundraising drive was organized to raise money for a new headquarters. A lighthouse designed by architects Emile Weil and E.A. Christy was added to an existing building the group purchased at 743 Camp St. Its design was inspired by the familiar Milneburg lighthouse on Lake Pontchartrain.
The murals are the work of local artist and designer Gordon Linge.
The Camp Street building was dedicated on May 14, 1924. By 1948, the organization had outgrown the location and moved most of its operations to 630 Camp St. near Lafayette Square. Later, a new building was constructed on State Street with more room for manufacturing and other programs. Programs were expanded to employ not just the blind and visually impaired but also people with hearing impairments and other disabilities. Its name was changed to Lighthouse Louisiana in 2010 to better reflect its services to a variety of clients.
Maison Maurice was located at 811 Canal St. next to the former D.H. Holmes department store.
The lighthouse building has been home to other tenants over the years, including an art gallery. It also is an event space available for rent.