I visited the warehouse operated by our partner the Preservation Resource Center this week to see what kinds of materials are coming in from the selective salvage of buildings which the city had declared an imminent structural threat and slated for demolition. These were buildings which, according to FEMA’s historic preservation staff and the State Historic Preservation Office, still retained features making them contributing buildings in a National Register district.
Materials from a total of 53 houses have been salvaged through Friday, with the contractor telling the PRC warehouse manager that they will begin on another group next week. The materials include numerous mantels, complete windows with casings, decorative brackets, interior doors, front doors, wooden screen doors, French doors, shutters, and some interior and exterior light fixtures. This is already becoming a source for the PRC’s and the Trust’s Home Again projects. We fought long and hard to get FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers (which is in charge of demolition and debris removal through the end of this month) to come up with a plan to at least save some elements of these structures, which otherwise would have been completely lost.
Walter Gallas is director of the New Orleans Field Office.