|The Old Lighthouse for the Blind Building
|I remember this building on Camp Street fascinating me when
I was a child, always making me wonder how a lighthouse
would wind up in the business district, with no body of
water nearby. It still fascinates - and not just children.
|I've found entries on various blog and photo sites by tourists
who happen upon it and wonder what caused it to be there.
They speculate that 1) the river changed course 2) a lake
dried up 3) someone built it during a period of extended
street flooding (the latter, I assume, to be tongue-in-cheek).
|But, the reason for the design has nothing to do with water.
Though it's modeled after the historic Milneburg lighthouse,
the building was constructed in this way as a symbol - a
metaphor for the beacon Lighthouse for the Blind hoped
to become to visually impaired citizens of New Orleans.
|Kingsley House - still going strong after 120+ years and
responsible for so many social programs in the city - started
holding classes for the blind in 1911. This later developed
into the LA Commission for the Blind and a goal of providing
employment for people who were visually handicapped.
|When a building on Camp Street was purchased in 1924,
the lighthouse was added to it and, eventually, the name
was officially changed to the Lighthouse for the Blind.
The building soon became a popular landmark.
|Lighthouse for the Blind, 1920's|
|By the 1950's, a larger home for their programs and manufacturing facility was required.
The building on Camp Street was sold, property purchased and a new building constructed
on State Street. Since that time, the old lighthouse building has been home to
several businesses. It's currently occupied by an art gallery, Lighthouse Glass.
|The old Lighthouse for the Blind|
|Meanwhile, Lighthouse for the Blind has grown and evolved tremendously since its
modest beginnings in the early 1900's. Their state-of-the-art manufacturing facility
produces high quality products. There have been - and continue to be - dozens of
important, groundbreaking programs and services for the visually impaired of Southeast
Louisiana. A few of these include: a program of reproducing textbooks in Braille; an eye
clinic that's gone on to become the mobile Eye Anomalies Detection Program, a large print
program, books-on-tape program, Radio for the Blind, classes and training in many areas,
including a Living Skills classroom. The facility now includes the only visual aids store in
the Gulf South area. The Lighthouse for the Blind has become what its founders hoped it
would be - a true beacon of hope for the visually impaired citizens of Southeast Louisiana.