Louisiana Division/City Archives   New Orleans Public Library

Image of the Month
September 2011

For at least a few years during the 1950s the New Orleans House of Detention operated a prison farm in the eastern part of the city. This Leon Trice photograph, taken in October 1954, shows a guard supervising two prisoners tending what may be a crop of sweet potatoes. The farm was intended both to ease overcrowding at the main H of D facility and to produce food to feed the prisoners (and other city institutions if the crops were large enough). We do know that, in 1956, the farm distributed 4,500 pounds of Louisiana yams to eleven area entities.

The penal farm was located on Read Road (now Boulevard) alongside the Dwyer Canal, probably where the Fourth District Fire Headquarters/Seventh District Police Station now stands. Joe W. Brown sold the property to the City for $120,000 in 1954 (provisions of the sale later resulted in a land swap between the City and Brown's widow, Dorothy, that paved the way for development of Joe W. Brown Memorial Park). Despite several attempts to enlarge and enhance the penal farm and its operations, the experiment appears to have been abandoned by the early 1960s when the Fire/Police project began construction.

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