Saturday, June 26, 2010


Back in May, I noted a list of the next dozen houses slated for demolition at that point.

While four of them have been demolished, eight were not.  After the Mayor's public statement committing site clearing funds out of the existing VA Hospital budget for moving houses to other vacant lots in Mid-City with the help of Builders of Hope and Providence, it looks like they will not be demolished.  Certainly not every single house in the VA Footprint can be moved given structural issues, but every one that can be moved should be moved.

The houses shown above, located at 237 and 233 S. Galvez, had received the "Gas Off" spray paint treatment and were boarded up recently - the sign, from maps and recent experience, that title had been acquired by LSU and the property was up for demolition in the near future.

Why is it significant that these houses and the other eight on the list were saved?  It's important because they're a) "contributing properties" in the Mid-City National Register Historic District, b) they contain craftsmanship and materials that can't easily be duplicated once destroyed, c) they're part of the distinctive architectural landscape and heritage that sets New Orleans apart from other U.S. and world cities, and d) they can still play a role as a viable part of the housing stock. 

At this point, it's crucial that even as the state and local government seems committed to moving the homes in the VA Footprint...we must reinforce the need to preserve as many of the historic homes in the LSU Footprint as possible, especially now that the design of that particular medical complex is under review.  While the LSU Footprint has fewer structures overall, some of them are nonetheless architecturally distinctive and, as with Deutsches Haus and Freret's McDonogh #16 school, culturally important.


Anonymous said...

Are relocation options for truly similar sites? Will owners of the moved structures be offered any guarantee that they will not face rezoning or expropriation from GNOBEDD?

Cultural significance in Lower Mid-City neither began with nor is limited to the Haus (1928) and Dixie (1909), both of which were relatively late additions to a neighborhood which had seen tremendous growth between the 1840s and 1880s.

The Dixie site was formerly a major streetcar depot dating from the mid-19th century.

McDonogh 11 dates from 1878 but replaced a public girls' school that served a growing and diverse community in which many German and Irish immigrants and artisans then lived. A plaque above the school's Palmyra Street entrance recalls the ultimate sacrifice of two volunteer firefighters who perished in the Madison School blaze. The school that burned had been built in 1858 and was deigned by Robert Mills Lusher and William Freret.

Brad V said...

Your point about GNOBEDD is well taken. As much as I would like to see the city benefit from development in high technology and the sciences, the organization's audacious claim that it has hundreds of acres of land to develop - that is located in a National Register Historic Zone comprising most of Mid-City - is disconcerting and somewhat ridiculous. GNOBEDD's plan to move up into Mid-City is also strange in light of the many vacant properties and vast parking lots in the CBD - that could use tenants.