Notes from New Orleans: Modernism at Risk

Posted on: February 4th, 2008 by Walter Gallas 2 Comments

Former State Supreme Court Building, New OrleansI participated in another Section 106 consultation meeting about two state-owned buildings in downtown New Orleans near City Hall, which the state proposes to demolish and replace with a new state office building. Both are 1950s era buildings—one served as an office building until Katrina; the other as the State Supreme Court until the Court’s move to the French Quarter in 2004. The state has no intention of saving either building. I would like to keep pushing for them to try to incorporate the Supreme Court building in the plan somehow, but this probably won’t happen. State facilities planning officials are miffed that they need to go through this consultation.

Louisiana State Office Building (left), New OrleansA locally organized group of DOCOMOMO, the international movement to save and document modernist buildings, submitted a plea to save the buildings, and we are hoping they might come in as a consulting party. Some next steps include having a conservator examine a mosaic tile mural in the Supreme Court building to see how it is attached to the walls and what it would take to move it. The state hadn’t even bothered to determine who the artist was or get any documentation about its likely significance. Mostly the state facilities people complained about how difficult and expensive it would be to save and reuse the richer materials of the Supreme Court, such as its wood paneling and marble.

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2 Responses

  1. Matthew

    February 4, 2008

    New Orleans is a 300 year old city, nothing that was built in the 1950’s should be considered historic. Let us tear these buildings down. The Supreme court moved to a truly historic building in the middle of the french quarter

  2. Pete

    February 6, 2008

    The Louisiana Supreme Court building in the French Quarter was built in 1908-1909. Its construction involved wholesale demolition of an entire block of historic structures, including Andrew Jackson’s military headquarters.