Here at Squandered Heritage, we live by lists. Among them are the City issued Imminent Danger list, the HDLC application review process, the HCDRC lists, the FEMA original lists which are hundreds of properties generated from the city applications. We also have an enormous adjudication list in our hands of unknown disposition. This adjudicated list is already breathtakingly large, even though NORA is not even really mobile yet.
So, in all of this, after almost a year of work, we have created a new list of our own evaluation. The Death Watch list is our own rotating short list of properties on hospice. These properties have been through all the processes for historic review but will soon be gone forever. We try to be there when they go, document their loss and hold their hand and tell them thank you for serving people through their architectural lifetime. We acknowledge the craftsmanship of the builder and the materials which cannot be replaced. Once these are gone, we fold in the new ones.
Our current, Death Watch List, looks like this:
Trinity Church : This building is now in final stages of tear down. Watching this come down slowly and with commendable care on the part of the demolition crew, for a couple of months now. This is where the Neville brothers grew up singing so it’s on our list for both it architectural beauty and historical signifigance. This building was a cultural landmark for African American and musical history in New Orleans. There was some debate regarding Stacy Head’s preservationist claims surrounding her support of this becoming condos. It’s debatable for sure and the developer claims that that they will incorporate as much of the historical elements as is possible in the new construction. I believe they will, it is the viability of the overcrowded condo market that I question today. It is gone, the crack dealers across the street, however, are thriving.
The latest market announcemet looks like this: Condo Market in New Orleans Flat
Stacy Head was attacked on my Metroblogging post on this issue last year at election time regarding this development. Check out the comments for full story on developments last year at this time
Cabrini Church: Gentilly. A flood victim. The purchase of the land by Holy Cross sparked great public debate which began raging in June 2006 with the FEMA 106 oversight process over this historically and architecturally important structure. We have a store of photographs of this church built by reknowned architects, Curtis and Davis, who built Rivergate which was demolished to accomodate Harrah’s casino, they also designed the beloved Superdome. Karen and I went exploring on the property early in the demo process. She picked up a very large panel of stained glass on intuition. We later learned that this stained glass was commmissioned by the parishoners from Chartres, France. The archidosces did nothing to salvage such precious elements. This further infuriated parishoners. Karen returned the panel to the parishoner whose family donated money to pay for the stained glass.
An email this week from these dedicated parishoners, leads us to ask one important question, “Why are taxpayers paying for this demolition!? : See quote from parishoners,
The church however, according to the Town Hall Meeting minutes, (Attachment “B”) had a $4.2 million flood insurance policy (paid for by the parishioners of Cabrini) that should provide the necessary funds to fully restore the church, at a total cost of approximately $2 million. $1 million are man made repair costs created by the hasty and careless demolition of the interior of the Church in an effort to expedite the demolition.
The repair estimates provided to you by your architect (as high as $6 million) are grossly inaccurate .Interestingly, Mr. John Skilling, the engineer of the roof of Cabrini Church was also the engineer of the ill fated World Trade Center Towers destroyed by terrorists in the 9-11 attacks.
The elegant and progressive design of this church is along the lines of the design innovation of Frank Lloyd Wright. The work of these architects and engineers will be thrown away before we can fully appreciate their contribution to our modern architectural landscape and talent originating in New Orleans.
Furthermore, we would like to point out that if a school could revive a neighborhood, you would think that UNO, as big as it is, would have fulfilled the expectations of residents of Gentilly as an anchor for revival. A drive through Gentilly will prove the marginal impact UNO’s presence has had on the viability of Gentilly. Chalmette is getting an oil driling site, perhaps that would have been a better fit for the economic development for Gentilly residents who are really counting on improving their property values from Holy Cross move.
Furthermore, one must ask, why would you move a school from one flooded area to another flooded area that is even MORE at risk of future flooding? Residents in Gentilly should use their tiny, possessed, voices to put the pressure on the Army Corps of Engineers to fix the floodwalls which are now inadequate rather than pumping money into the new floodgates which are untested. In reality, the Army Corps is now only offering economic development to Bush’s friends who are the contractors of the new flood projects, while leaving the residents of Gentilly at risk for future flooding.
If we were to state outright that there is a demolition onslaught on the institutions most important to African American history in the city right now, one would expect the outrage that matches the emotional convulsions that have occurred regarding the demolition of the various public housing projects. While the ACLU takes on the housing project demolition issue, various small and singular historical structures which are significant to the cultural history of African Americans in New Orleans are currently under the shadow of the wrecking ball and being pushed by the leaders in the departments in charge of demolitions to demolish them. It seems these buildings are going to be demolished with little input from the African American community according to our monitoring. We have alerted the Louisiana Weekly to this demolition and got no response. Lolis did re-run our information regarding the city pressure to demolish Perserverance Hall in his column in the Times-Picayune but it was a very small group who actually fought for a solution besides total demolition. There are no alarm bells sounding in the African American community regarding the modest homes of Jazz Musicians and these smaller institutions which are at risk. When it comes to New Orleans “culture”, it’s merely a buzz word. In reality, no one seems to care. The following is another example.
Please read the complete history of Peck Hall on the original post, which Karen did in January, when the process began. Peck Hall Post
Peck Hall, was originally, Gilbert Hall, it became the first standard four-year high school for blacks to be accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. The argument to save this building was eloquently argued and won by many at the HCRDC hearing in January, Jim Dugan gave an eloquent, driving blow to the commitee. However, City Council failed to uphold the committee’s standing on the owner’s appeal to the City Council.
2020 General Taylor Street This house is just one of the many quotidienne homes on the long FEMA list of taxpayer sponsored demolitions which run around 80K. Homes, like this one, were not Katrina victims. As Willie White put, these are, “Weak houses with weak owners.” These are slumlords who have failed to perform the necessary maintenance on their homes for years. The property becomes a fire hazard and haven for drug dealers. This is how one owner can ruin an entire neighborhood. A good example is the Barreca Properties along Freret St. The neighborhood had a festival this weekend, they are trying to improve Freret St. and Barecca is one big crippling reason they are limited. People have attempted to purchase his properties but he just hangs onto them and leaves them in disrepair. It’s pathetic.
The City is equally at fault for creating the giant slum that is New Orleans today. Our government rarely enforces the most basic laws in place regarding health and safety violations, they are limp wristed when if comes to slapping liens on property. So much has fallen to the citizens of New Orleans. We are getting fed up. But we are not giving up. We are only learning how to speak our minds more loudly.
To see a growing gallery of these types of buildings: No Broken Windows
2020 General Taylor:
Address: 2020 Gen Taylor St
Owner: Christa Gordon
Tax Bill: 614309313
Property Description: Sq 504 Lot 20 Gen Taylor 30X154 Ma Chg 2/04 2020-22 Gen Taylor Du-2 Sty-W/Apt File #86611 12/03 Don
Planning District: Central City/Garden District
Flood Zone: A1
Estimated Flood Depth: 5.5
Flood Duration (days): 11
Damage Report: Unavailable