||We were among the founding families who established St, Frances Cabrini Parish. During World War II, while serving in the U.S.Coast Guard, we lived in military housing called Bienville Homes, near DeSaix Blvd. This is now the property of L.S.U. Dental School.
We were allowed to stay there after the war because of the shortage of housing in New Orleans at that time. When the U.S. Navy again needed the housing, there were 99 families who desperately needed a place to live. These men had organized an American Legion Post and began working together on their housing needs. They decided that they would find a way to build houses for their families since they could not find rentals. They did! Vacant land was found near Oak Park that started at Paris and Filmore, Mithra, and Crescent. They found a developer who would build the streets and the houses, Boh Brothers. Next they got financing from Central Savings and Loan. They went through all the hurdles of permits, lack of sewage, etc. and they did what they set out to do. Later other vets lacking houses became part of the group and another l0l homes were built.
Just as homes were needed, they wanted and needed a church and school nearby. Since the land next to the subdivision was owned by the diocese, they proceeded to work to establish a parish and school. Their first church was a quonset hut. The shell was erected commercially, and the interior was completely finished by the parishioners. The men worked nights after working all day, then on weekends, putting up walls, the altar, painting. The ladies cleaned and swept daily. This was what has been called "the greatest generation" at work. The school followed.
When the architects, Curtis and Davis, designed the new church, they incorporated the openness of the quonset hut into their design. There are no barriers, creating a feeling of inclusiveness and togetherness, which was the feeling of those veterans who worked so hard for their country, homes, church and school. In conclusion, the age of the building is not all that makes it historical. It is the significance and the story behind the building, THE SPIRIT OF THE PEOPLE, that makes St. Frances Cabrini truly unique and worthy of preservation.
George D. Probst - trustee - first year of parish
Virginia Probst - first organist