With Wildfires Almost Contained, California Assesses Damage

Posted on: November 1st, 2007 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Sikes Adobe

At least 10 people are dead, some of them burned in their homes, and more than 50 firefighters injured by the wildfires that started in Southern California on Oct. 21. About 2,000 firefighters are still containing two wildfires, according to the state department of forestry and fire protection, and 100 people remain in evacuation shelters. So far, more than 15 fires have destroyed 2,200 homes and at least a dozen historic structures, the agency says.

President Bush, who has declared a major disaster in nine California counties, toured the wreckage last week with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. More than half a million people in San Diego County were relocated in the state's largest evacuation.... 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.

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: November 1st, 2007 by Walter Gallas

 

The existing VA hospital, closed since Hurricane Katrina.Oktoberfest is a long-running tradition even in New Orleans, which retains a substantial number of descendants of the hard-working German immigrants who found New Orleans a friendly port in the storm of political turmoil in the 19th century. Today, New Orleans’ German culture is threatened again by the construction of a mega-complex envisioned for the Veterans Administration and the Louisiana State University medical system. It would replace is the 1940s-era hospital shown at right, which the Veterans Administration will abandon in favor of building a new facility possibly in the Mid-City National Register Historic District of New Orleans. This hospital has not been opened since Hurricane Katrina.

Deutsches Haus, today’s German cultural society in New Orleans.Deutsches Haus, today’s German cultural society in New Orleans, and a tattered but intact neighborhood are at ground-zero of the VA-LSU development. It is one of many buildings threatened by the city's plans. We will see how this all plays out, as federal and state forces couple with the city to carry out the 21st century version of urban renewal to clear neighborhoods for development.

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.

N.Y. Drive-In Razed for CVS, Bank

Posted on: October 29th, 2007 by Margaret Foster 1 Comment

 

Annie’s by Rob YasinsacA classic drive-in restaurant with an American Graffiti look, Annie's Snack Shack in Stony Point, N.Y., was demolished earlier this month. A CVS and a bank will replace the 1951 building.

Annie Ciabattoni, whose family has owned the diner for the last 56 years, sold her 2.4-acre property to a Florida developer. On Sept. 11, the town board presented a plaque to Ciabattoni for her years in business. ... 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.

Notes from the Field: New Orleans

Posted on: October 29th, 2007 by Walter Gallas

 

This is the interior of St. Frances Cabrini Church, a modernist church demolished to make way for Holy Cross School in the Gentilly neighborhood of New Orleans. A loss for preservation.Holy Cross School marked the symbolic start of construction of its school on Paris Avenue in Gentilly with Archbishop Alfred Hughes mixing the soils of the former and future sites in a pot containing a magnolia tree. The fact that the school chose to utilize the FEMA funds which were reparations for damage at the school’s historic site for new construction at a new site triggered Section 106 review, a provision of the National Historic Preservation Act.

St. Frances Cabrini Church, during its demolition in June to make way for Holy Cross School.Unfortunately, Holy Cross School could not conceive of using the modernist St. Frances Cabrini Church (which stood on the new site) as part of its plans, and so after a difficult Section 106 consultation with many political overtones, the church was demolished to prepare the site for new construction. It is ironic that the style of the new school attempts to mimic the campus which the school is abandoning in the Holy Cross neighborhood after over a hundred and fifty years. At the new school’s symbolic ground-breaking, Bill Chauvin, chairman of the school’s governing board, said “Today is an example of how difficulties can be overcome when we work together for a common goal… We hope that our journey will serve as a model for how the private sector and government can work together to facilitate recovery.”

The National Trust for Historic Preservation attempted to force the utilization of St. Frances Cabrini Church in the school’s plans, but was rebuffed. The church was demolished in early June. This is not a model we want to replicate.

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: October 26th, 2007 by Walter Gallas

 

The house on Moss Avenue in New Orleans.I spoke before a City Council committee on the subject of a house on Moss Street on Bayou St. John, which had recently been demolished, because it was determined to be in imminent danger of collapse. I said that the Department of Safety and Permits has way too much discretion in how it defines imminent danger of collapse, thereby side-stepping any other reviews.

We had inspected this house inside and out in early July. It had been placed on the “voluntary demolition” list by its owner, presumably to clear the lot courtesy of FEMA funds so that the land could be redeveloped. We challenged its listing, saying its condition was pre-Katrina blight, but FEMA did not remove it from the demolition list. It was definitely not in any danger of collapsing. Apparently the owner chose to fund the demolition himself, and somehow persuaded city inspectors to make the imminent danger determination.

There are serious problems with the New Orleans Department of Safety and Permits. The director of the city’s Historic District Landmarks Commission (HDLC) told me that just last week six houses within the local historic districts his agency oversees, were demolished without HDLC review—but with a demolition permit from the Department of Safety and Permits.

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.