Best of Squandered Heritage Vintage

The House on New Orleans Street

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.


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About 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 to guilty pleas in federal court. Her work attracted some of journalism's highest honors, including a Peabody Award, an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award and a gold medal from Investigative Reporters and Editors. She can be reached at (504) 606-6013.

  • Michelle

    The RIGHT person could have saved this building, even in the poor shape that it is in. XO, NO Street Corner. You had a better life that should have been maintained. We will let you go with trepidation.

  • Your right..this is an example of where need and will were never allowed to meet.

    If the City had a good tax ajudication process this would have been out of the negligent property owners hands about 20 years ago.

  • Michelle

    AMEN! Apparently, this property owner owns other houses. Time to get the houses into the hands of someone that cares!

  • It’s such a shame that something with so much character will be torn down… Plus the interior is definitely interesting, I guess they weren’t crazy liberal hippie artists 🙂 How unusual! J/k

  • Laureen

    This is just a lovely write up about one of the more valuable of the many sticken properties in New Orleans who have doomed by neglect. This, thanks to a city who has failed to ever apply any code enforcement and now are trying to start from scratch. This is just a very touching write up that only someone who has spent as much time as you have visiting these places. There is a nuance of these properties which speak to us and you capture that here. You show how difficult it is to come to terms with the extent of their ‘illness’ and their obvious historic value. Your story does a great job of illustrating the objective mentality along with your personal witness to the sadness and pain of years of mis-management and the “slumlord cancer” which pervades New Orleans and it illustrates how it affects those who live in the city amongst these ghosts. The little boy’s perspective really brings that home. Great work, G. I am reading it over again because it’s so good.

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  • I would kill for that ceramic tree trunk. Gorgeous!

  • hi,

    I’m lost vlenoski, founder of the termite and vine collective. i think you emailed me once. we tried starting adverse possession on the store but though the house is blighted neither the health dept nor NORA would give me the damned blight certificate.

    and I’m still stuck in californyeh for a while longer getting my head repaired after some crack heads bust my skull open with a pipe in may. seeing this really really really makes me feel like i kinna fucked up a little cuz i was real attatched to that neighbourhood and i invested a few thousand hours and dollars in to termite. i had big pland to open the store as a homesteaders advocacy info shop, demolition building material recycler, and move my workshop studio over there.

    NORA and head inspector N.Butler have never really been to encouraging and our relationship has always been more like “demonstrate the intent to be as much like a normal home owner as possible and they’ll leave me alone mostly”.

    NORA themselves exist as a louisiana law. and they wrote the homesteaders law that got us termite. but no one from the old NORA who wrote that law is still arround, their staff changed across the board after 8-29-005.

    my contact for the estate of carlos is his youngest son joe. a 70 year old retired priest in covington. he can’t get involved but wished me luck and talked my ear off about the family for over an hour.

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  • Ken from Termite

    The old ceramic shop is gone. Michelle…..There was no way to save it, the interior walls and ceilings were coming down on their own, it was just too far gone. Believe me, we wanted to save it, it was just too wrecked. Our house is still going though, and we are making progress.

    anyone who can donate lumber to the cause would be greatly appreciated.