For about the past month I have obsessed and worried and wondered about the house on New Orleans Street.

2683 New Orleans

From the outside it is a perfect rendition of the vernacular song of a Corner Store. The tension between the overhang and the house made you wonder if the awning was pulling at the house and telling it that it was time to come down, or was the house letting the awning just have a little break from the decades of work it had done providing shade.

2683 New Orleans

Lionel told me that they used to have “beaucoup”: candy in that store, but I think that candy existed in his imagination of what the store should have had, or could have had. The kind of stuff you want it to have if you are 8 years old and you live across the street.


The first time I visited the house he told me that he was hoping I would buy it and fix it and give him beaucoup candy when he came to visit me. It sounded tempting, and at the very least interesting. So with the help of some of my more “intrepid and dogged”: research friends we found out a bit more about this house. It has been vacant for about 15 years, it was a ceramic studio and the owner had a number of other properties all in the same sorry state or worse.

One of these properties is called “Termite and Vine” a name derived from the architectural fabric of the house, that is, the only thing holding it up seemed to be the congress of termites and the canopy of vines. Here is a “podcast”: where you can see a photo of the house and hear the saga of the 2 year fight to save that house.

I have long been interested in the idea of homesteading in New Orleans. We have a great number of unoccupied houses in fair to great shape. The homes that were vacant before Katrina stand an even slimmer chance of surviving the wrecking ball. And could be brought back with some sweat equity. It seems ironic that we are fussing about affordable housing when there are people who would work to bring back a vacant and viable house.

Well I spent some time yesterday discussing the House on New Orleans Street with the Termite and Vine residents. They were pretty sure that it was damaged beyond repair and suggested I go in and look.

So I did and here is what I discovered.

First, the owners could not spell


Second, the could not spell and had a prudish streak or I guess “Rodin”: was not a favorite.


Third, they liked the Lord and they like hollow eyed owls.


and last, but not least I got to lay to rest the sadness that the house on New Orleans Street gave me cause I know that someone gave it up for dead a longtime ago.

Jesus told me it was all gonna be ok on my way out. The house had been approved for demolition it should be gone in a month.


Karen Gadbois

Karen Gadbois co-founded The Lens. She now covers New Orleans government issues and writes about land use. With television reporter Lee Zurik she exposed widespread misuse of city recovery funds and led...