General

Notes from the Field: New Orleans

Posted on: September 26th, 2007 by Walter Gallas

 

The Lafitte public housing development, New OrleansThe Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO) announced this week that it would repair and reopen 18 buildings (representing 94 housing units) in the Lafitte public housing development, and would also open additional apartments in two other housing developments. This means that at least a portion of the Lafitte housing development which has been sealed since Katrina will be open for occupancy.

During discussions with HUD and HANO about the fate of these buildings, we had argued for the re-use of a substantial number of them as part of an overall redevelopment plan—but were told that this was not economically feasible. These are solidly-built brick structures from the early 1940’s with decorative ironwork on the porches, wooden sash windows, and red tile roofs. Lafitte is one of four housing developments HANO plans to completely demolish. At least for now, in a city with a chronic shortage of affordable and low-income housing, we will have a bit more.

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 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.

There May Be Hope to Save the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Posted on: September 21st, 2007 by presnation

 

Written by Warren Shaver

We are very pleased to report that Senator Daniel Akaka and Senator Jim Webb have submitted Senate Amendment No. 2995 to the Defense Authorization Bill that may help save the historic Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

If it is enacted, Senate Amendment 2995 would stop the rush to discard the authentic monument and, instead, require a thorough re-consideration of repairing the monument’s cosmetic cracks. Here is the full text of the Akaka-Webb amendment:

SEC. 1044. REPORT ON PLANS TO REPLACE THE MONUMENT AT THE TOMB OF THE UNKNOWNS AT ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY, VIRGINIA.

(a) Report Required.--Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of the Army and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall jointly submit to Congress a report setting forth the following:

(1) The current plans of the Secretaries with respect to --

(A) replacing the monument at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia; and

(B) disposing of the current monument at the Tomb of the Unknowns, if it were removed and replaced.

(2) An assessment of the feasibility and advisability of repairing the monument at the Tomb of the Unknowns rather than replacing it.

(3) A description of the current efforts of the Secretaries to maintain and preserve the monument at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

(4) An explanation of why no attempt has been made since 1989 to repair the monument at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

(5) A comprehensive estimate of the cost of replacement of the monument at the Tomb of the Unknowns and the cost of repairing such monument.

(6) An assessment of the structural integrity of the monument at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

(b) Limitation on Action.--The Secretary of the Army and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs may not take any action to replace the monument at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia, until 180 days after the date of the receipt by Congress of the report required by subsection (a).

(c) Exception.--The limitation in subsection (b) shall not prevent the Secretary of the Army or the Secretary of Veterans Affairs from repairing the current monument at the Tomb of the Unknowns or from acquiring any blocks of marble for uses related to such monument, subject to the availability of appropriations for that purposes.

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.

Tomb Remains Threatened

Posted on: September 20th, 2007 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 5 Comments

 

Truman at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. (Harry S. Truman Library & Museum)The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier remains at serious risk and, unfortunately, the Army is rushing to finalize its agreement to replace the historic monument by September 30th.

On September 13th, however, we understand that staff to the Senate Armed Services Committee met with Mary Oehrlein, a preservation expert and author of the Cemetery’s 1990 study of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier monument.

Ms. Oehrlein told congressional staffers:

  • “Although there is separation in the stone along the naturally occurring fault lines of the stone … i.e. the cracks ... the monument is in no danger of falling apart and poses no danger to the public or cemetery personnel. A very significant external force, similar to an earthquake, would be required to cause the stone to slide apart.”
  • “The existing monument can easily be repaired, as was done 17 years ago, using conventional conservation methods to re-grout the cracks. Once repaired, the fault lines would be virtually invisible from the public viewing areas.”
  • “There is no way to stop the deterioration of the surface of the existing stone or any newly quarried and carved piece of stone, unless it is placed out of the weather in a controlled environment.”
  • “The idea that a new piece of stone can be quarried that will not contain faults is unrealistic. The chance of quarrying three flawless pieces of stone is zero. It really is a question of how quickly the faults will appear when the replacement stone is quarried, carved or as the stone weathers.”

Contributed by Robert Nieweg, director of the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Southern 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.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

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

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.