A love letter to New Orleans from a native son

July 9, 2013 9:00 AM

Fran Simon

Peter M. Wolf grew up in 1940s and ’50s New Orleans, a member of the sixth generation of his Jewish family to live in the city. After receiving a master of arts in architecture from Tulane University, he left New Orleans to head to New York. But the Crescent City stayed lodged in his heart.

Book by Peter M. Wolf

This month, architecture alumnus Peter M. Wolf debuts his book, a fond recollection of his youth in New Orleans in the ’40s and ’50s.

Wolf began to write his reminiscences of growing up in New Orleans as short stories for his grandchildren. A publisher friend told Wolf, “There’s a book in this material.” Wolf then expanded his recollections into an extended love letter to New Orleans.

Wolf launches his book, My New Orleans, Gone Away: A Memoir of Loss and Renewal at Octavia Books, 513 Octavia St. in uptown New Orleans, on Wednesday (July 10) at 6 p.m.

The Krauss department store, Maison Blanche stores, K&B drugstores — so many establishments that Wolf fondly recalls from his youth are gone away. Yet many venerable institutions remain, from Audubon Park and Tulane University to the French Quarter and its intriguing architecture.

“To this day, I love going to Galatoire’s and signing my bill,” writes Wolf in the book.

Wolf is related to the prominent Godchaux family (of the old Godchaux’s department store and Godchaux Sugars) and the Weis family of New Orleans.

“No one in my family has ever left New Orleans. … If I leave, it will probably be forever,” he wistfully mused before entering the Institute of Fine Arts doctoral program in New York at the urging of his Tulane School of Architecture mentors.

After earning a PhD in the history of art and architecture, Wolf became a nationally recognized land planning, urban policy and asset management authority. He is founder of the Thomas Moran Trust, chair of the Godchaux-Reserve Plantation Fund, and a trustee in East Hampton of Guild Hall and The Village Preservation Society.

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000 website@tulane.edu