Squandered Heritage Vintage

A "House of the Future": Almost a house of the past

Today I received an email from XXNO that a striking house on Canal Boulevard was about to be demolished. Since I live about half a mile away, I have enjoyed the sweeping curves of the building since I was a girl. Amidst brick ranches and post-Katrina modulars, this building truly stands out as a marriage of form and function. And even though it has been vacant since the flood, I take note of it several times a week.

According to XXNO:

This Art Moderne-style house first appears in the New Orleans city directory of 1940 (Polk 1940). It was the home of Emile P. Hymel, vice president of the Commonwealth Homestead Association, a building and loan company. It was a ‘house of the future’ designed by architect August Perez, Jr. in 1930. The house was likely a model home of sorts as development began to extend up Canal Boulevard to Lake Ponchartrain in the late 1930s. It was also likely designed by Perez, although its construction date was about 1940 rather than 1930.

The property’s owners have been trying to sell since Katrina, but without any takers they decided to demolish the house and replace it with a new one. The bulldozer arrived and took down the fence.

Demolition was about an hour away when a buyer called the Realtor and had her call off the dogs. We arrived soon afterward with our video camera, and you can see the joy in the new owner’s face as she talks about her love for the house itself and her excitement in being able to save it.

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  • So great to hear some happy news! I would like to clarify that the history of the Hymel Residence was forwarded to me and others by Lori Durio.

  • Chris Romero

    I’m shocked that this house was for sale, much less about to be knocked down. Any time I drove to the lakefront I was sure to pass this gem. Art Deco houses are so rare in this city (I know of less than a dozen) but this particular one is true Streamline Moderne. I’m terribly glad someone has saved it.

    And if she ever decides to give it up, I’ll be in line. 🙂

  • Great house. I’m so glad it wasn’t demolished. Thanks for the excellent vid. Not to be picky, but if you’re gonna be in this gig, you’ll have to learn the lingo. That wasn’t a bulldozer. It was an excavator, sometimes called a back hoe or a track hoe. A bullzozer has a big wide ground-level scoop in front rather than the arm and bucket attachment. I’d be nervous as long as it was sitting there. They need to get it the hell gone.

  • Annalaura Natal

    Let me start out by saying that this house has been untouched since Katrina, almost 3 years ago. Personally, I would not want to live next to this.

    Secondly, if this house has so much meaning to so many in Lakeview, why has nothing been done with it? Do we really need another flooded and gutted? In this case, not gutted?

    The woman who claims to be saving the house in the video did not purchase the house. After taking the house off the market for 5 weeks, the sale fell through at the very last minute due to financing issues.

    My husband purchased the house in January, 2008 and due to an overwhelming opposition to it being demolished, he is renovating it to its original splendor!

  • Annalaura,
    It is great to hear that the house will be restored. It’s amazing how well the tile and interior decorative elements survived the flood. As one of your neighbors in the lake area, I’ll look forward to seeing the progress as I drive by.