Notes from the Field: New Orleans

Posted on: May 29th, 2008 by Walter Gallas 1 Comment

img_1038.JPG1205-07 Felciana is a double shotgun house in a section of the Bywater National Register and local historic district. It is considered a contributing building in the district, but has serious roof damage and other structural damage, which have placed it on the city's demolition list. Its demolition was approved at the staff level by the Historic District Landmarks Commission in September 2007 for structural reasons and because it posed a health hazard. This is one of the first properties to be demolished by the new city-hired contractors as part of the continuing agreement under the National Historic Preservation Act, whereby "selective recoupment of character-defining elements" must be done before a historic contributing property is demolished.

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Recently, the two of the FEMA historic preservation staff (pictured here from the left, Gail Lazaras and Adrian Seward) spoke to the contractor about the procedures for the selective recoupment and how they will monitor the process for the upcoming 200 or more properties. In this property, the chief items removed were door frames and a few windows. These will go to the Preservation Resource Center's warehouse for resale at reasonable prices, or for use in PRC or National Trust-supported projects. What was painfully obvious, though, was that the intact bargeboards and beaded boards which make up so much of the house's construction would not be saved under the definition of "character-defining elements." Neither is the city requiring salvage in any of the demolitions it initiates. We therefore began discussions with the contractors, who seem to be willing at least to talk about the possibility of crews from the Preservation Resource Center's Rebuilding Together program stepping in and removing more reusable building materials prior to total demolition. This would be a big step.

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One Response

  1. Taylor Johnson

    May 30, 2008

    THANK YOU for stepping in there and saving our (America’s) history. We (my husband and I) have gone back to help elders rebuild and it crushes my heart when I see demolition on an old building. What is the process to restore an old building this great city? We have been looking at one in particular but do not know how to sartt.