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.

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.

 

Stadtschloss Berlin, by Francesco Stella, courtesy of anArchitecture

Stadtschloss Berlin, by Francesco Stella, courtesy of anArchitecture

Kein Schloss in Meinem Namen: We recently featured anArchitecture's post surrounding the deconstruction of the East German cultural center and the plans to rebuild a Prussian-era Stadtschloss in its place. More news from this sector of the Preservodome as Berliners are speaking out against the new plans. At kein-schloss-in-meinem-namen.de (no palace in my name), citizens can express their feelings surroundings the rebuilding of the palace. Es ist nur auf Deutsch, but the point here is the discussion of which history a society is choosing to remember and represent. For a society and history that is obsessed with how remembrance and forgetting should work into its culture, the debate of what building should be placed on the site only makes sense, and fits nicely into the field of preservation. For spaces and places that have played a role in more than one era or historical moment, how do we go about deciding what should be preserved, restored, and interpreted to the public? An example here would be the restoration of James Madison's Montpelier. Although lacking the political nature of the German situation, the home of our fourth President was recently deconstructed, and rebuilt to reflect its Madison-era appearance. The building's post-Madison history is still on display in a visitor center exhibit, but not in the building itself. The Stadtschloss-reconstruction debate is far from over, and it will be interesting to see how it plays out. [anArchitecture]

Metro Solutions: A lot of us here at the National Trust use D.C.'s Metro system every day, and often realize the challenges this system faces on our daily commute. "Montgomery County Council member Marc Elrich thinks he might have found a way to let the suburbs grow without putting more cars on the roads: Build a rapid bus system that can speed past traffic. If his efforts succeed, Montgomery could become a leader in the region and one of only a dozen or so jurisdictions in the nation to embrace the low-polluting, high-end bus systems that can move thousands of riders at fairly high speeds, often in their own lanes." Could Elrich have the solution to the archaic system's problem? [Washington Post]

Midtown Mall and Revitalizing Rochester: It's Christmastime and to many Rochesterians that means one thing; the Monorail at Midtown Mall. While the monorail, the colorful clock tower and the decorations may all be gone, the discussion over what to do with this indicative place in Rochester history is still around. "Midtown Plaza, particularly the atrium, is a significant and unique historic resource that potentially presents a wealth of opportunities for reuse as part of a revitalized city core with a distinctive character. Our preference would be to see the atrium integrated into a creative reuse of this site." [Confessions of a Preservationist]

OnnenKenka Monument, Tuuri, Finland, courtesy of Virtual Tourist

OnnenKenka Monument, Tuuri, Finland, courtesy of Virtual Tourist

The Top Ten "Ugliest" Buildings: This is just one website's interpretation, as I find some of these buildings to be extremely cool (the Lucy Shoe Monument in particular) and we've even featured the number one listing here at the Trust as an example of Brutalism in the debate over preserving the modern. “Some of these picks have all the charm of a bag of nails while others are just jaw-dropping in their complexity. Love them or hate them, the list is certainly entertaining.” [Virtual Tourist]

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.

 

Though she clearly worries that it may be a losing battle, New Orleans homeowner Barbara Dillon -- with her husband Larry at her side -- talks about wanting to "fight to the last" to save the home they have been restoring since Hurricane Katrina. At this time, the Veteran's Administration and Louisiana State University are still planning to tear down the Dillon's home, along with more than 150 others, to build a new hospital complex.

Other sites are available, however, and continued pressure may help to change the minds of Governor Bobby Jindal and others involved. Please take action today!

Learn more about our efforts to save Mid-City New Orleans.

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.

Sarah Heffern

Sarah Heffern

Sarah Heffern is the social media strategist for the National Trust’s Public Affairs team. While she embraces all things online and pixel-centric, she’s also a hard-core building hugger, having fallen for preservation in a fifth grade “Built Environment” class.

Soft Economy Creates Hard Challenges for Some Communities

Posted on: December 12th, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

In November, the National Trust Main Street Center took the pulse of communities to gauge the economic health of commercial districts throughout the nation. We asked how the downturn of the national economy is affecting Main Street and what, if anything, is being done to counter negative impacts.

First, the good news. In a survey of 261 individuals in Main Street communities, 21 percent have not seen any significant business closures, reduction in sales, or stoppage of major development projects; seven percent even reported a thriving business district. On the other end of the spectrum, however, 33 percent of the survey respondents reported lower sales than this time last year, 27 percent have seen new and current development projects stall, and 24 percent have seen one or more businesses close.

While many survey participants have felt insulated from the nose dive in the stock market, they aren’t confident that their good fortune will last. The National Trust Main Street Center is compiling tips and resources for retailers and economic development organizations -- check back on Wednesday to take a look at this valuable information.

And in the meantime, when you're doing your holiday shopping, think local. Click here to find the closest Main Street district to you, or visit www.shopmainstreet.org to find specific Main Street retailers, whether you're heading down the block or shopping from the comfort of your living room. (Yes, Main Streets are in cyberspace.)

-- Andrea Dono

Andrea Dono is Associate Editor for the National Trust Main Street Center.

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.

Faces in Preservation: Meet Mayor Roy D. Buol

Posted on: December 12th, 2008 by Jason Clement 1 Comment

 

Meet Mayor Buol of Dubuque, Iowa in our new Faces in Preservation series.

Meet Mayor Buol of Dubuque, Iowa, in our new Faces in Preservation series.

In politics, there's nothing more powerful than a personal story.

Think about it: From the start of the Iowa primaries until the final polls closed in Alaska, we heard a steady stream of stories about the concerned line worker in Michigan, the parents who couldn't afford college payments in California, and the single mom who waits tables as a second job in North Carolina. And really, who can forget the now infamous plumber who became an overnight political sensation?

These stories work because they give us something to sink our teeth - and our hearts - into, which is why the National Trust for Historic Preservation has launched a new series called Faces in Preservation. As a supplement to our official policy platform, this evolving collection of stories will introduce you and the incoming Obama Administration to the preservationists who are on the front lines of change in our communities and demonstrating that preservation is so much more than just standing in front of wrecking balls.

This week, we start with pioneers in sustainability who are proving that going green puts communities in the black. In anticipation of his Faces in Preservation profile, we had a chance to chat with Mayor Roy D. Buol of Dubuque, Iowa, about a project that is turning 17 downtown blocks of abandoned or misused industrial warehouses into a livable, walkable neighborhood that is green friendly and mixed use.

PreservationNation: What does sustainability mean to you?

We must remember the Native American proverb that says "We do not inherit the earth, we borrow it from our grandchildren." When I think about sustainability, I see the faces of my grandchildren. I see them in school, at the park, near the river, making crafts at the art museum or going to a festival in downtown. I see how connected they are to our community and the lessons that they are already learning about being stewards of this great city. Even at their young age, they are interacting and respecting the native species that make our bluffs so majestic, our prairies so open, and our creeks and rivers full of life. They are meeting new families that come to Dubuque and celebrating the richness that these families bring with traditions and cultures for us to enjoy. And they benefit from quality, local businesses that provide a means to raise healthy, productive families. Sustainability must be about creating stewardship in our children and grandchildren - a stewardship that emphasizes environmental integrity, social/cultural vibrancy and economic prosperity.

... Read More →

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.