Notes from New Orleans: Permit Moratorium

Posted on: January 4th, 2008 by Walter Gallas


Overlooked by many at the City Council meeting approving the public housing demolitions on December 20, was the passage later in the day of a moratorium on all permits—building permits as well as demolition permits—within the boundaries of the proposed LSU and VA medical complexes in the Mid-City National Register historic district.

Ostensibly, the moratorium is " enable the study and development of a zoning classification appropriate for a Regional Medical District...." It is to remain in effect for one year "...or until implementation of permanent land use measures in conjunction with the planning and development of the Regional Medical District...." If someone wants to get a permit, they must appeal to the City Planning Commission staff and then the applicant must go before the City Council. Demolition applications in this area would no longer go before the Housing Conservation District Review Committee; they would go through the same appeal process.

This places a new burden and disincentive on a property owner to repair his property in this neighborhood—and places everything under the authority of the City Council. The lead on the moratorium was Councilwoman Stacy Head.

This affects 71 acres of land, some of which have been repopulated by residents repairing and returning to their homes, as well as local institutions such as Deutsches Haus, a long-standing German society.

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.

Standoff in Philadelphia

Posted on: January 3rd, 2008 by Margaret Foster


plicoh.jpgThe city of Philadelphia is expanding its convention center, and three historic buildings stand in the way.

At 6:30 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 22, two days after the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Society ruled against the demolition of the structures, the city's department of general services removed the cast-stone facade of a 1962 modern addition to the Philadelphia Life Insurance Co. Building.

A court date is set for Jan. 8. In the meantime, the agency must "save and preserve" the dismantled facade, according to the Dec. 24 order by Commonwealth Court Judge Bonnie Leadbetter.

The demolition violated a 2004 agreement between the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority and Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission to incorporate the three connected buildings into the new complex in exchange for demolishing several others.... Read More →

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Storm Causes $2 Million in Damages to Historic Astoria, Oregon

Posted on: January 2nd, 2008 by Margaret Foster


astoria.jpgAstoria, Ore., is still picking up the pieces after a storm pounded the Pacific Coast city of 10,000 last month."I was proud of this town," says John Guttenberger, former president of the Lower Columbia Preservation Society. "The storefronts were blown out, and rather than looting, people were putting things back in stores. It was really quite sweet. It was a nice bonding experience in its own strange way … It was like waking up in Who-ville."

With winds topping 100 miles an hour, the Dec. 2 storm caused $14 million in damages, according to a preliminary report the city sent to the state historic preservation office on Monday.

"Our preliminary estimate for historic properties is around $2 million, and there would be approximately 99 damaged properties," says Brett Estes, the city's community development director. ... Read More →

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Notes from New Orleans: End-of-Year Rankings

Posted on: January 2nd, 2008 by Walter Gallas 2 Comments


Amid the celebrations ringing in the new year, and the lead up to the Sugar Bowl and BCS championship games, a look back at the city’s year in law enforcement shows that New Orleans once again will rank in either first or second place as the nation’s murder capital in 2007. It will be the second year in a row that the city will carry this distinction. Depending on which estimate of the city’s population is used, New Orleans will be the top contender or Gary, Indiana, will take the prize. New Orleans’ rate per 100,000 is either 67 or 71, depending on whether the population figure is 312,000 or 295,450. The higher figure from the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center uses postal delivery data to make its estimate. The lower figure from GCR & Associates uses residential resettlement and voting activity to make its estimate.

Off the record, police officials expressed alarm at the high rate of assaults, including all non-fatal shootings, which is on track to exceed even the two years prior to Hurricane Katrina, when the city’s population was much greater. Long-festering problems of high poverty, poor schools, and broken systems of public housing, criminal prosecution and imprisonment are cited as the root causes.

Ranking behind New Orleans and Gary, Ind., are Detroit, Baltimore, Birmingham, Ala., and Flint, Mich.

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.

Ravioli, Pierniki & Authenticity: Thoughts for a New Year

Posted on: January 1st, 2008 by Barbara Campagna 1 Comment



Before last week I would never have imagined that I would use these three words in the same sentence – ravioli, pierniki and authenticity – let alone that they would have a connection. Last weekend I decided to bake cut-out cookies for Christmas – something I had Cut out cookies known as “Pierniki”not done in a few years. For me, baking Christmas cookies is a way to hearken back to my childhood and contribute to a traditional holiday season, as well as completely ignore my usual diet! I am not an inherent baker, I can improvise any kind of sauce or appetizer, but when it comes to baking I need to follow a recipe with no deviations. So I went in search of my Polish grandmother’s recipe for “pierniki” – the classic Polish Christmas cookies my mother, sister and I used to make together every Christmas. Having moved across the continent twice in the past 5 years, that was no easy task. I could not find the recipe anywhere – in my file cabinet, in any of my cookbooks, in any of my drawers. So I did what any normal person would do, and called my mother. Of course she would have or know the recipe by heart. But my mother moved for the first time in 30 years this year, and guess what, she couldn’t find the recipe either. And she couldn’t remember it either. Between the two of us we remembered all of the ingredients, but not the amounts…what to do?

Well, I did the next thing any normal person would do, I googled “pierniki”. And this is when it got really weird. Ten different postings for pierniki came up, including one in Wikipedia. All ten were similar, but not one of them was even vaguely similar to what I remembered as our classic Polish pierniki recipe. There were barely any of the same ingredients. It was not my grandmother’s recipe. So why did she call it “pierniki”? I briefly thought about trying the recipe anyhow, but it sounded horrible! I wanted the moist, sugar-filled cookie of my youth, regardless of what it really was. After ranting to my mother that we had lost this last tradition forever, she suggested that I google the main ingredients we remembered and see what came up. So, in went “sour cream, Crisco, anise oil, cutout cookie”. And voila!! Up came the recipe immediately – exactly as we remembered it, only one odd thing happened – it was listed as a traditional Christmas cookie under “Southern Cooking”. Southern cooking? The furthest south my grandmother had ever been was Erie, Pennsylvania. Did they mean “southern Poland”? I briefly thought about looking at a map of Poland to see if Warsaw was in southern Poland, but in looking at the webpage again I realized, no, this was definitely listed under Southern American cooking. I decided to file this in the back of my mind while I actually got to work baking the cookies. Twelve hours and 130 cookies later, I took the first bite and indeed was transported back to my early Christmases.

... 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.

Barbara Campagna

Barbara A. Campagna, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C was formerly the Graham Gund Architect of the National Trust in the Stewardship of Historic Sites office. She is currently a sustainability consultant to the National Trust and can be reached at

Best & Worst of 2007

Posted on: December 28th, 2007 by Preservation magazine 1 Comment


Is Brooklyn Under Siege?Is preservation becoming more hip? This year, celebrities like Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, and Darryl Hannah showed their support of historic architecture and wide open spaces. Longtime building buffs like Diane Keaton, who likes to restore Los Angeles houses, were joined by fellow showbiz types like director Michael Moore, who has promised to rehab a historic Michigan theater.

Here's the best and worst in the world of historic preservation news of 2007, compiled by our magazine editors.


Floodwaters Spare Farnsworth House

A few weeks after Brad Pitt's August visit to the iconic Farnsworth House, floodwaters reached the front steps of the Plano, Ill., house designed by Mies van der Rohe in 1951. Miraculously, only the landscape suffered damage.... 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.