Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Preservation Resource Center Report

From: Patricia Gay
To: Bill Crosby
Sent: Sat Sep 10 14:49:51 2005
Subject: Neighborhood report

Many neighborhoods in New Orleans remain intact. The Preservation Resource Center is organizing: 1) to save as many buildings as possible that suffered damage so that people can return to their homes -- many of the damaged buildings are modest homes and PRC is optimistic that with sufficient resources they can be reclaimed and restored; 2) to advocate with the National Trust and its partner organizations to secure the federal tax credit for homeowners, to secure grants for restoration of damaged properties and to loosen some of the requirements involved with tax incentives and grants; and 3) to secure funding and incentives at the state level for the restoration of damaged buildings.

We are also advocating that the rebuilding be the best possible -- stronger, higher buildings of good design that reflects the architectural traditions of our city.

We need your help in reaching the media with the message that much remains, and we want to spread the word that there is hope so that everyone will return to the city. We need your help in generating resources -- volunteer and financial -- for the restoration effort. The power of people working for their neighborhoods and to restore their homes is incredible -- PRC has a tradition of success in working with neighborhoods and we are organizing at this moment to do more than ever to make the City of New Orleans better than ever.


This report is based on my tour of New Orleans on Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2005 and on eye-witness reports.

Intact historic districts with very minimal damage:
Vieux Carre
Central Business District (which includes several local districts)
Lower Garden District
Garden District
Irish Channel
Uptown District (composed of many neighborhoods -- largest in US)
Algiers Point
Carrollton (I heard today from someone in NO that there was no water on Carrollton all the way to Claiborne -- of course the water had receded but this was good news)

Districts that had water in some portions -- these are areas where we will be saving buildings:

Holy Cross; I only saw into Holy Cross from the bridge over the Industrial Canal. The streets I saw had very little water but there was evidence of higher water earlier. Someone saw media that said there was 8 feet of water in the Jackson Barracks (impressive complex of Greek Revival buildings, built in 1840) which is the lower boundary of Holy Cross. Many houses are 19th and early 20th century so we are hopeful that they can be salvaged. (For two years we have been buying and restoring and selling houses in this area, and for 17 years we have been painting and repairing the homes of elderly homeowners.)

Faubourg New Marigny (St. Roch): Dry from St. Claude Avenue at least for a few blocks. Report from a resident that there was 2-3 feet of water in places. Have seen media of houses further away from St. Claude with water up to porch level -- not in the houses. May have been in earlier, of course. We will be involved in saving these houses.

Esplanade Ridge: Am very hopeful about this historic district. It includes Faubourg Treme and Faubourg St. John. Bayou St. John did not flood. Most of the district is on a ridge. We are very worried about any demolitions here because the buildings have survived, they are on high ground and are of historic building stock and we feel many if not most suffered little damage.

Mid-City: Am afraid this historic district got a lot of water. However, again we have solid building stock, and many two-story buildings. Trying to track down residents. We are hopeful. People are determined.

Parkview: We are hopeful that since part of this district is on higher ground of City Park Avenue that there was not great damage. Know of one house on City Park Avenue that had no water.

Broadmoor: This is substantial early 20th century neighborhood. Much water. But, as with all of the above, no demolitions should occur without thorough review, and without consideration of the determination of owners to save their houses.

Central City: The portions along St. Charles Avenue got very little water - closer to Louisiana Avenue apparently there may have been water. I do not know yet about the portion beyond OC Haley Blvd. (formerly Dryades Street). Will continue to search for contacts. Much late nineteenth century housing stock.

Gentilly Terrace: This twentieth century neighborhood was built on berms, and on Gentilly Ridge. While most of Gentilly, of which Gentilly Terrace is a part, got much water, I feel these fairly substantial houses built on berms have sustained little damage.

Area seeking NR designation:

Ponchartrain Park: Built in 1950 for African American homebuyers, this neighborhood has now reached historic status and in any case is an important neighborhood in New Orleans. Reports are that there is much water. I hope that this neighborhood is not lost to our city. The most careful assessment must be made.

Historic areas not on National Register -- we will soon have contacts in all of these areas:

Area north and east of Esplanade Ridge, including the fairgrounds: I will find out more about conditions here.

Area northeast of Bywater: Need more information.

Neighborhoods on either side of Elysian Fields north of I-10: We were working with all of these neighborhoods. Much water.

Please note that many streets are filled with trees and limbs, but the loss of trees is minimal, all things considered. Some parks and squares will have less trees but remaining trees will come back. A landscape architect with our group said the live oaks have suffered much less loss of limbs than might be expected and he said they would all come back.

As you can see from this report, most of our NR historic districts are intact. We are currently organizing to rebuild those that have suffered. I hope we do not have to worry about arbitrary, wholesale demolitions as we have been informed is being discussed at the stated and federal levels.

Would love a statement from you about this.

Regarding later twentieth century neighborhoods: We would like to be informed of the situation in New Orleans East. Am trying to reach people we know who lived there. It is not too soon to start discussions about rebuilding.

Many thanks, and please let us know what you are able to do toward these objectives!.

Patricia H.Gay
Executive Director
Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans

My personal post regarding my drives through Mid-City, Uptown, City Park, Esplanade and the Lakefront is being written as we speak. Lots of good news!


Blogger CathiefromCanada said...

This is great news.
Would you mind about me posting this material on Daily Kos? Or would you prefer to do this yourself -- it is easy to set up a Daily Kos page and I know people there would be very interested in all of this.
Either way is fine for me. Email me or I will check back to this comments thread.

6:17 PM, September 13, 2005  

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