Jesuit High School
New Orleans, LA

The facade of the Jesuit High School students chapel - 1953
Photo courtesy Jesuit High School

Jesuit High School in New Orleans got its start in 1847 when the Fathers of the Society of Jesus founded the College of the Immaculate Conception on Baronne and Common Streets to create an outstanding institution for the secondary education of young men.  In 1926 Jesuit High School moved to its current location at Carrollton and Banks -- The Avenue of Champions.1

The new wing - 1953
Photo courtesy Jesuit High School

In 1953 they added an addition wing. The new wing included a student's chapel (upper portion, left); an auditorium directly below; in the section on the right ground floor, the cafeteria; on the second floor, the library; and on the third, the band room.1

Jesuit High School Auditorium - 1953
Photo courtesy Jesuit High School

The auditorium has provided the stage for many great plays and concerts. While the two upper floors house the large chapel; the two lower floors houses the new auditorium which is capable of seating the entire student body.  The auditorium, which is of excellent acoustical design, has a seating capacity of 933. The stage, 32 feet wide and 40 feet deep, is equipped with intricate modern lighting. Below the stage is an orchestra pit. The auditorium has motion picture accommodations and two loud speaking systems.1

Stage at Jesuit High School Auditorium - 1953
Photo courtesy Jesuit High School

On February 4, 1955, Elvis Scotty and Bill preformed two shows at Jesuit High School along with Ann Raye, the 14 year old daughter of Biloxi promoter Yankie Barhanovich"My daughter (Martha Ann Barhanovich - Ebberman) was recording under the name of Ann Raye on Decca," Barhanovich said in an interview. "Her first record, Sentimental Fool, was one of two hits on a New Orleans radio station. Disc jockey Red Smith each week asked the recording artists to come to the Crescent City to perform their top song. We met Elvis at Jesuit (High School) auditorium. We played two shows. One in the afternoon, one at night. They paid each of them a hundred and fifty dollars."2

Ann Raye, Elvis and Mae Axton - May 26, 1955
Photo © EPE Inc.

Ebberman, Barhanovich’s daughter, remembers her New Orleans introduction to Elvis quite well. “I hardly knew who he was, what he looked like," she said. "I was singing in quite a lot of high schools in the area at the time. Dad was booking me with a lot of older singers. I mean, they may have been twenty-five or thirty, but when you’re fourteen, that’s old! I was at that point I would have given anything if dad would just book somebody young."2

When Elvis walked out on that stage at Jesuit High, Ebberman knew her prayers had been answered! “I liked to have died," she said. "He was dressed in a pink jacket with fringe on the arms and black pants that had a pink stripe down them, and gosh, he was very good looking! But when he first came out on stage, I was shocked. I thought I would be singing with someone much older because that’s the way he sounded on the radio."2

She said the moment she heard him open his mouth on stage, she knew instantly that pop music was never again going to be the same. “I knew he was going to make it," she said.2

Jesuit High School Auditorium - 2003
Photo courtesy Gootee Construction

Over the years the stage at Jesuit High School has played host to many entertainers, musicians and actors, which includes Harry Connick Jr., Dr. John (then student Mac Rabennack), Jay Thomas, Fred Weller, Frankie Ford and the Dixie Cups.1

Jesuit High School Auditorium - 2003
Photo courtesy Jesuit High School

In 2003 the auditorium received an overhaul at a cost of $948,000 which included new ceilings, flooring, wall finishes, HVAC, house lighting, theatrical lighting and sound systems acoustical wall panels, seating and control booth entry in addition to two brand-new restrooms. The overhaul was part of the Tradition Guides Our Future Campaign, which created an updated, contemporary campus for the Jesuit High School.1

Jesuit High School flooded as a result of Hurricane Katrina - Sep. 5, 2005
Photo by Lt. Eric Lowry courtesy Jesuit High School

Unfortunately, only two years after the renovations, the auditorium was ruined when Hurricane Katrina struck in August of 2005. Like much along the Gulf coast, the damage by Katrina to the school was catastrophic.  As for the auditorium, as a result of the flooding, the newly installed seats have to be replaced, along with the stage floor and sound and lighting equipment.1

The Chapel/Auditorium wing - Sep. 2007
Photo courtesy Cassie

Jesuit High School though, cleaned up the mess, and was the first flooded school in New Orleans to reopen on its home campus.  It is still moving forward with its Hurricane Restoration Project.1

Ann would go on to share several dates with Elvis that summer in 1955, from Florida to Louisiana.  She got married at 18 and gave up her singing career to become a wife and mother.  She settled in Biloxi and eventually opened a restaurant of renown called Burger Burger.  Her restaurant also sustained damage in Katrina but as of February 2008, she said business is good and  her view of south Mississippi's post-Katrina economy looks as good as her Monday red beans and rice special.3

page added December 1, 2008

1 according to Jesuit High School site
2 excerpt from "Early Elvis: The Sun Years" by Bill E. Burk
3 according to "Coast Chamber Focused On Area's Post-Storm Economy" WLOX - Feb 18, 2008


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