Author Archive

Notes from the Field: New Orleans

Posted on: September 24th, 2007 by Walter Gallas

 

New Orleans Mid-City neighborhood threatened by VA hospital development.The Preservation Resource Center and its Operation Comeback program developed a great concept a few years ago called “Renovator Happy Hour.” Every other month, a home which is under renovation in one of New Orleans’ historic neighborhoods becomes the place where people gather at the end of the day to sip a beverage and to see and hear from a homeowner about their house renovation.

This past week's host house on Palmyra Street between S. Miro and S. Tonti is located essentially at ground zero on the footprint of the proposed new VA hospital in Mid-City, a National Register District. I had the opportunity to walk around the immediate area that evening, to talk to neighbors who were back, and found it all particularly distressing that these hard-working residents might lose their homes to this 25-block development. The neighborhood looked mostly intact, with complete collections of houses either renovated or at least boarded—but all of it could be wiped away if plans go forward. “This is how the mayor welcomes us back?” remarked a neighbor who has repaired his house using insurance proceeds. He had stayed during Katrina and then had to be rescued by boat when water reached about five feet.

Because federal agencies are involved in this project and because the project will clearly impact a National Register District, Section 106 review (required by the National Historic Preservation Act) must be undertaken so all alternatives are examined. To date we have heard nothing about plans to initiate 106 consultation. A member of the staff of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation told me this week that the Advisory Council was working on a letter to all relevant federal agencies alerting them that 106 review must be a part of their planning before they go forward much farther.

Walter Gallas is director of the New Orleans Field Office.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Notes from the Field: New Orleans

Posted on: September 19th, 2007 by Walter Gallas

 

It announced this past week that a house in Holy Cross, which is receiving one of the Lieutenant Governor’s Historic Building Recovery Grants, will be renovated in the 2007-08 season of the PBS series “This Old House." The National Trust for Historic Preservation has been instrumental in lobbying with Lieutenant Governor Mitch Landrieu for these grant funds, which for Louisiana total over $20 million.

The ten New Orleans “This Old House” episodes will air in early 2008. Since the series will also include segments about the context of the house renovation, viewers can expect to see other work going on in Holy Cross, like that of the PRC’s Operation Comeback and Rebuilding Together and the Trust’s Home Again! New Orleans program.

Walter Gallas is director of the New Orleans Field Office.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Notes from the Field: New Orleans

Posted on: September 17th, 2007 by Walter Gallas

 

New Orleans WindowsI 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.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Volunteer Opportunity in New Orleans

Posted on: September 13th, 2007 by Walter Gallas 6 Comments

 

Two years after Hurricane Katrina, the need for volunteer help in New Orleans remains strong, and one of our local partners, Rebuilding Together, is seeking assistance to rebuild houses for low-income elderly and disabled residents.

Volunteers may be performing tasks such as painting, scraping, landscaping, dry-walling, taping, cleaning, installing appliances, and tiling. Instruction is given for unfamiliar tasks, and no volunteers are expected to do any job they are uncomfortable performing. All work is supervised by skilled Rebuilding Together staff members and water, refreshments and first aid kits are always onsite.

All volunteers must be 18 or older. Click here to see a schedule, which includes dates and participation costs. If you are able to help out, please contact Sean Vissar by email at svissar [at] prcno [dot] org or by phone at (504) 636-3076. Click here for information for low-cost volunteer accommodations.

Updated to add the schedule link.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.