New Orelans Habitat's Musicians' Village
New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity’s Musicians’ Village, conceived by Harry Connick, Jr. and Branford Marsalis, consists of 72 single-family homes, 5 Master Musicians elder-friendly duplexes, a toddler-friendly pocket park and the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music. All the homes built in the Village were constructed by New Orleans Habitat staff and volunteers. The Village stands on the former site of Kohn Jr. High School which was torn down in the 1990s.
“Music is as much a part of the fabric of life in New Orleans as the cuisine, the culture,” said Branford Marsalis, the award-winning saxophonist and native New Orleanian.
New Orleans Habitat’s Musicians’ Village, conceived by Harry Connick, Jr. and Branford Marsalis, consist of 72 single-family homes, five elder friendly duplexes, a toddler-friendly pocket park and the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music.
“We believe this will help breathe life into an historic New Orleans neighborhood suitable to the return of our valuable musician families,” said Jim Pate, New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity Executive Director.
The Village was made possible by the tireless efforts of Habitat volunteers and the sustained support from many New Orleans Habitat for Humanity donors including: Baptist Crossroads, Dave Matthews Band, Dwyane Wade Foundation, National Association of Realtors, Phil Mickelson, New Trier High School, Texas Roadhouse, Bob and Suzanne Wright, and ASI.
New Orleans Habitat for Humanity Musicians’ Village Homes
The average Habitat home in the Musicians’ Village has three bedrooms and one bathroom and measures approximately 1,100 square feet. The homes are traditional habitat style homes built by volunteers and a team of subcontractors who handle the electrical, plumbing and foundation. Over 40,000 volunteers worked with Habitat construction leaders to build these homes.
“This is very exciting because it uses the Habitat model – building homes and communities – and takes it another step, to helping hope for the future,” said Harry Connick, Jr. “Children will grow up in the neighborhoods, in a safe and secure environment, and at the same time have the opportunity to become a part of the musical and cultural scene of New Orleans.”
The Village sits upon an 8.2 acre tract of land that was the former site of Kohn Jr High School. New Orleans Habitat for Humanity purchased the property from the Orleans Parish School immediately following Hurricane Katrina.
Marsalis Center for Music
The Ellis Marsalis Center for Music serves as the cornerstone of the Musicians’ Village and is dedicated to the education and development of the next generation of New Orleans music enthusiasts and the preservation of New Orleans unique musical heritage. The Center is named for the patriarch of the Marsalis clan, Ellis Marsalis, a modern jazz pioneer and native New Orleanian.
With its intimate performance space, recording facility, classrooms and computer facilities, the Center provides a range of musical instruction and cultural enrichment programs for the area’s students. Equally important, its state-of-the-art performance space, recording facility and computer technology, and the production and professional development training provided by Center staff, is available to Village residents, the many talented artists who claim the surrounding Ninth Ward as home and ultimately all of New Orleans. The Center is both a gathering place for Village residents to address community issues and a home base where diverse creators can realize their visions. “We intend to connect the art forms,” Ellis Marsalis emphasizes, “music and theater, music and dance, including hip hop, films and the visual arts. The physical space and resources of the Center are fantastic.”