This public high school for the creative arts, known as NOCCA, incorporates recently built structures and renovated nineteenth-century brick warehouses. The new structures were designed to relate to the neighboring industrial buildings, evident in the use of corrugated metal siding. However, the intricate layout of the complex, the over-restoration of the brickwork on the original warehouses, and the reuse of some original material can make it difficult to distinguish between old and new construction. Clearly old is the large brick warehouse with segmental-arched windows and corbeled gable, as is a row of granite post-and-lintel openings retained from a warehouse by Alexander T. Wood along the St. Ferdinand Street side of the Center. The new three-story, curved metal structure that defines NOCCA’s boundary along the railroad tracks of Press Street includes a second-floor terrace that provides a view of the river over the adjacent floodwall. The Center houses a 300-seat theater, a black-box theater, recording studios, art and dance studios, an art gallery, performance rooms, culinary arts space, and a restaurant. NOCCA is a nationally recogized professional training center in the visual and performing arts, serving students from over twenty Louisiana parishes.
Nearby at Press and Royal streets is the site (a plaque marks the spot) of the streetcar stop where, in 1892, Homer Plessy boarded a streetcar, bought a ticket, announced he was a Creole of color, sat in the front of the car (reserved for white riders), and was subsequently arrested. The resulting legal action culminated in the historic Supreme Court case Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), which legitimized “separate-but-equal” and ushered in the Jim Crow laws of the twentieth century.