JEAN GORDON: MENTAL HEALTH ADVOCATE

Miss Jean Gordon (1865-1931) mental health supporter

Miss Jean Gordon (1865-1931)

In the 1900’s

For all practical purposes, the organization languished during the Civil War and among outbreaks of yellow fever and survived haphazardly until Governor Blanchard of Louisiana replenished the Board and appointed a very talented and gifted woman, Miss Jean Gordon to guide and lead Milne. As an organization seeking to help young girls and women, Milne truly found its calling as Miss Gordon was enlisted to lead this organization. Gordon’s knowledge as a social worker served to make her a gifted leader in seeing the tremendous need to assist these women who were unable to do so by themselves due to their mental and physical challenges.

In the early 20’s the physical structure was outgrown as the organization needed to expand its Kenner facilities and relocate to the Gentilly Boulevard region of New Orleans, then known as Milneburg. The nationally renowned newspaper, The Times Picayune, commenced providing “The Loving Cup Award” in 1901. This award recognized local residents who have worked unselfishly for the community without expectation of public acclaim or material reward. In 1921 the Times honored Miss Jean Gordon with that prestigious award.

When an additional dormitory was required, Miss Gordon had construction volunteers deconstruct the worn out existing facilities located in Kenner and literally transport 31 truck-loads of the dismantled construction materials to Gentilly Boulevard. In addition, numerous other contractors and volunteers contributed additional construction materials for the construction of a new dormitory which became beloved and named the “Gift House”.

The Gift House was dedicated in 1923 and was instantly fully occupied. Throughout this period, Milne had its own home-grown garden, dairy, chickens and livestock on their property right up to World War II, when the growth of New Orleans developed new city-wide ordinances restricting farming within the newly expanded city limits.

In the 1950’s: Efforts for Mental Health 

In the fifties, once again it was time to renovate and to re build new quarters for the women and staff. Fortunately some excess land was sold, estates received, and revenue from the State of Louisiana combined to make the following possible: Administration building with superintendent’s quarters; dental clinic, office, board room, and reception room. One building contained two dormitories with two private rooms for each of the matrons and a recreation room. Another building also had two dormitories, two private rooms, an infirmary with a bathroom or optionally available for a matron, two rooms for kitchen attendants and storage room for supplies. The school house had one large room with a closet for keeping supplies. Lastly, there was a kitchen and dining room areas with adjoining living quarters for two matrons.