Trust News

Live Online Now: Plight of Mid-City New Orleans Comes Before LA House Committee

Posted on: January 22nd, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 1 Comment

 

The Louisiana House of Representatives Appropriations Committee is meeting today to discuss the possible reuse of Charity Hospital as a medical facility. The Foundation for Historical Louisiana and the National Trust for Historic Preservation will present a plan that would transform Charity Hospital into a state-of-the-art medical facility, spare demolition of the historic Mid-City neighborhood, and return medical care to New Orleans more quickly and at less cost less than constructing a new hospital. Visit the Louisiana House website to watch live online. (RealPlayer plugin required.)

If you're not able to tune in, today's New Orleans Times-Picayune has a good article about the hearings: LSU-VA Hospital hearing set today at state Capitol.

Check back later today for a full report later from our New Orleans Field Office staff.

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Learn more about our ongoing efforts to save Mid-City.

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.

Breaking News: A Dangerous Turn for St. Elizabeths Hospital

Posted on: January 8th, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 4 Comments

 

In a dangerous turn for St. Elizabeths Hospital, the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) voted today to approve the General Services Administration's (GSA) master plan for the six-million-gross-square-foot Department of Homeland Security headquarters consolidation. It is a conditional approval: the National Park Service must turn over parkland for the access road and planning for the East Campus portion must be completed. GSA must also submit a funding request for the rehabilitation phases of the project before new construction can begin - although realistically, that funding may not be secured.

National Trust for Historic Preservation President Richard Moe testified on behalf of the organization that the master plan was premature and posed extraordinary harm to St. Elizabeths. Instead, he and others advocated a mixed-use, low-impact development with a federal anchor tenant that would preserve the site and benefit the neighborhood. Representatives from the Brookings Institution, the D.C. Preservation League, Alexander Company, and the National Coalition to Save Our Mall also testified in opposition to the consolidation proposal. Peter May, who represents the National Park Service on the NCPC, delivered a moving statement on behalf of the Department of the Interior in opposition to the plan.

In the end, the approval of the St. Elizabeths master plan sets a terrible precedent for America's National Historic Landmarks. These exceptional places are accorded special protection under federal law. In the case of St. Elizabeths, those protections were overlooked in favor of real estate considerations. Such a precedent could jeopardize our most important historic places.

Read National Trust for Historic Preservation President Richard Moe's testimony and the online version of an op-ed that appeared in today's Washington Post.

- Nell Ziehl

Nell Ziehl is a program officer for the Southern Field Office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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.

Is this St. Elizabeths Hospital’s Last Hour?

Posted on: January 8th, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

 

Today, the National Capital Planning Commission could decide the fate of the National Historic Landmark St. Elizabeths Hospital, an irreplaceable collection of historic brick buildings and designed landscapes with spectacular views of downtown Washington, D.C.

In 2002, the National Trust for Historic Preservation listed St. Elizabeths Hospital as one of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in an effort to raise awareness about the vacant and decaying site. The National Trust and others have endorsed the Urban Land Institute’s recommendation for mixed-use, public-private development at St. Elizabeths that would benefit - not detract from - the surrounding community (full report).

Now, St. Elizabeths Hospital faces a potentially devastating threat if the National Historic Landmark is re-developed as the new consolidated headquarters of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

For three years, the General Services Administration (GSA) has pushed an oversized, six-million-gross-square-foot redevelopment of St. Elizabeths over the objections of preservationists and other advocates for sustainable urban development. The National Park Service has criticized GSA's plan as "wholly incompatible" with preservation of the National Historic Landmark (full report), while the Brookings Institution has called the proposal a “lost opportunity” for Washington that would offer little or no benefit to the surrounding neighborhood (full report).

To its credit, GSA has improved the current master plan for the DHS headquarters based on comments from the coalition of preservationists dedicated to preserving the National Historic Landmark campus. However, we do not yet know what the Obama Administration's priorities are for DHS. The National Trust and others are urging President-Elect Barack Obama to reconsider this devastating proposal in favor of a solution that will preserve St. Elizabeths Hospital and bring greater benefit to the local community.

Read the online version of an op-ed by National Trust for Historic Preservation President Richard Moe that appeared in today's Washington Post.

- Nell Ziehl

Nell Ziehl is a program officer for the Southern Field Office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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.

 

This week is what I refer to annually as the Week of Lists.

From magazines to the Internet, the outgoing year is relived in every imaginable category. In addition to Time's People of the Year, I've read about 2008's highest-grossing movies, most outrageous Hollywood moments (a perennial favorite of mine), biggest YouTube videos, top-earning business tycoons, most memorable campaign gaffes, hottest food trends, most prolific buzzwords (change!) and best television advertisements.

Talk about a whole lot of nothing, huh?

Today, as we make big plans to celebrate an even bigger night, there are residents in Lower Mid-City New Orleans who are making the kind of plans most of us will never be faced with in our lifetimes: where am I going to go if my house gets demolished?

While the fate of this historic neighborhood is still painfully unclear, we wanted to use today to look back at 2008 as a year that saw the residents of Lower Mid-City - and their many advocates from New Orleans to Washington, D.C. - come together to fight for what's fair, right and responsible. So, in between reading about the year's biggest breakups and worst-dressed A-listers, please take a moment to read our special year-end list, What We Would Miss About Lower Mid-City.

Unlike the others, it won't rot your brain, but touch your heart. And when you're done, consider taking a moment to make a difference by telling a friend about our Mid-City website, sending a letter or posting a video on Facebook.

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.

Jason Clement

Jason Clement

Jason Lloyd Clement is the director of community outreach at the National Trust, which is really just a fancy way of saying he’s a professional place lover. For him, any day that involves a bike, a camera, and a gritty historic neighborhood is basically the best day ever.

A Preservation Newbie's Walk Through Mid-City New Orleans

Posted on: December 23rd, 2008 by Jason Clement

 

I have a confession to make: I'm a preservation newbie.

That's right; I'm not an architect, an archeologist, an urban planner or a historian. I don't totally understand tax credits (yet!) or Section 106 (workin' on it!). And unless time logged vegging out in front of HGTV counts, I've also never restored original moulding or weatherized a window.

I am, in all honesty, a twenty-six-year-old writer turned web geek who simply tends to follow his heart a lot. Three months ago, it led me to my first day at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and just one week ago, it led me to Palmyra Street in New Orleans.

A Louisiana native, I was home mainly to see family, though I knew I would have a few hours of downtime between eating and eating again (it's what us Cajuns do best). Now, if you've ever been to New Orleans, you know firsthand how a "few hours of downtime" can lead you in so many very interesting directions. I won't elaborate, but let me say that this trip was no exception: I found myself walking the streets of Mid-City, a place that's seemingly worlds away from the French Quarter and a neighborhood that I had previously never been to.

Since starting at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, I had heard a lot about Charity Hospital and the surrounding area. I had read reports, looked at photos and worked on projects supporting our work. None of it, however, prepared me for what I felt on foot as my first-timer curiosity slowly turned into unabated anger. I saw Christmas lights, "I'm Home!" signs, toys in yards, fresh paint jobs, and new and ongoing restoration projects. And the more I looked around and saw these things, the more I realized what I was really witnessing: people making the most out of a life in which nonnegotiable decisions about what stays and what goes are ultimately being made in boardrooms.

As a newbie, I still don't completely understand the "how" or the "why" of the Mid-City story. I just know that my heart wants to go back and do more because the people I saw there might be ringing in the new year by watching their homes get torn down. To me, that chilling mental image is stronger than any talking point, any report and any study.

So, at a time when it seems like none of the decision makers are, I want to ask everyone here to please think with your heart. I invite you to follow me on my walking tour of Mid-City and then encourage you to tell a friend about our Mid-City website, send a letter or post a video on Facebook.

We don't have a lot of time, but even a newbie knows that there is still work that can be done - even if it is just with a mouse.

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.

Jason Clement

Jason Clement

Jason Lloyd Clement is the director of community outreach at the National Trust, which is really just a fancy way of saying he’s a professional place lover. For him, any day that involves a bike, a camera, and a gritty historic neighborhood is basically the best day ever.