Notes from New Orleans: Making a "Moral Investment" in the Lower 9th Ward

Posted on: December 15th, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 1 Comment

We've spent a lot of time lately talking about the threat to lower Mid-City, but not everything in New Orleans is so grim. The story below is an example of the ongoing good work happening there.

I want to introduce you to Anne Van Ingen, Wes Haynes, Joe Loya and their web site: www.5516dauphine.com.

Wes Haynes (right) chatting with Calvin Alexander, a Holy Cross resident who is helping with the project.

Wes Haynes (right) chatting with Calvin Alexander, a Holy Cross resident who is helping with the project.

In January of this year, Ann, a National Trust for Historic Preservation advisor from New York, and Wes attended a meeting of the National Trust’s Trustees and Advisors in New Orleans. During the meeting they participated in a tour of historic neighborhoods where our New Orleans Field Office and our local partner, the Preservation Resource Center, have been actively working to restore homes and aid families in returning through the HOME AGAIN! New Orleans program.

Moved by what they saw and learned, they decided to use their experience as historic preservation professionals to contribute to the recovery and rebuilding of New Orleans. The method by which they are making this contribution is as exciting and non-traditional as the city of New Orleans.

They have purchased a Katrina-damaged single family shotgun house in the Holy Cross Historic District, part of the Lower 9th Ward. They are renovating it with their own labor and that of their friends. The New Orleans Field Office of the National Trust will provide on-the-ground assistance and local contacts as Holy Cross is a neighborhood where we have been concentrating our efforts. Then, they will sell it to a former resident of the neighborhood for only the costs that they have incurred, no profit. They call it their “moral investment” in the city.

Cleaning salvaged barge board from a house slated for demolition.

Cleaning salvaged barge board from a house slated for demolition.

To me, it is yet another remarkable example of the heroic commitment of the hundreds and thousands of preservation volunteers that have been coming to the city since the levees broke; giving their time, their labor, and their financial support. New Orleans is in your debt. Please visit their web site and read the truly exciting story of Ann, Wes and Joe and their adventure in a flood damaged historic neighborhood of New Orleans post-Katrina. If it moves you as I think it will, Ann and Wes tell me that there’s room for more volunteer workers during their December-January build.

-- Kevin Mercadel

Kevin Mercadel is a program officer in the National Trust for Historic Preservation's New Orleans Field Office.

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The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

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One Response

  1. A Different New Orleans « More to Come…

    April 18, 2009

    [...] was especially gratifying to meet up with National Trust Advisor Anne Van Ingen and her partner Wes Haynes at their home at 5516 Dauphine Street in Holy Cross.  Anne and Wes bought this house after an [...]