Tuesday, August 31, 2010

2009 & 2010's Top 9 most endangered places in NOLA


The sites on the 2009 list are:

  • The 400 block of South Rampart Street: Jazz historians say that few sites in New Orleans have more connections with the early history of jazz than this block, home of the former Eagle Saloon, Odd Fellows Ballroom, Iroquois Theater and a tailor shop run by the Karnofsky family, friends of the young Louis Armstrong. Various proposals have been made in recent years to restore the buildings, which date from around 1885 to 1910, but little has come of them and the structures remain in danger from "demolition by neglect." 
  • LaSalle Elementary School, 6048 Perrier St.: This Italianate-style school, built around 1900, is better known as the former home of the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. Musical stars such as Wynton and Branford Marsalis and Harry Connick Jr. studied and practiced there as teens. The building has been vacant since NOCCA moved out in early 2000 and is deteriorating rapidly, with broken windows and weeds growing from the roof. 
  • Downtown riverfront neighborhoods: The Landmarks Society says this label refers to the French Quarter, Faubourg Marigny and Treme, which it fears are threatened by the Port of New Orleans' plan to relocate New Orleans Cold Storage's frozen-poultry warehouse to the Gov. Nicholls Street and Esplanade Avenue wharves. "This plant should be constructed in an industrial area separate from historic residential neighborhoods and significant historic assets, " the society says. Port officials said recently they are exploring the idea of putting the facility at another site. 
  • Myrtle Banks Elementary School, 1307 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd.: This three-story school was built in 1910 and occupies an entire block. It has been closed since 2002 and was damaged by fire in 2008. It is slated for demolition, but it remains structurally sound, despite exposure to the elements, and "offers tremendous redevelopment potential and is critical to the revitalization" of O.C. Haley Boulevard and the Central City neighborhood, the society says. 
  • Orpheum Theater, 129 University Place: This 1921 beaux-arts-style vaudeville house and later movie theater was home to the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra but has been vacant since it was flooded in Katrina. "Little to no progress has been made on repairing or restoring this significant building, " the society says, and "continued neglect endangers the future of this important piece of the cultural and architectural fabric of New Orleans' downtown."
  • Overseer's house at the New Orleans Adolescent Hospital, 210 State St.: This Creole cottage is believed to date from the early 1830s; the side wings and front gallery were added about 1860. It is among very few buildings in New Orleans remaining from the 1830s heyday of local sugar plantations. However, it is no longer in use and has deteriorated. With the state closing the entire hospital, the building's future is very much in doubt. 
  • Charity Hospital, 1532 Tulane Ave.: The fate of this massive 1939 art-deco-style hospital has been much in the news lately, as debate continues over plans for a new state teaching hospital a few blocks away. "The loss of Charity as a functioning medical hub would leave a score of empty buildings on the periphery of the Central Business District, making it more difficult to attain the density required for an active street life, " the society says. 
  • Hubbell Library, 725 Pelican Ave.: This "Carnegie library" opened in 1907 and for many decades was the only public library in Algiers. The library, known since 1975 as the Algiers Point Branch, reopened after Katrina but was closed in 2008 because of serious damage to its roof. Repairs have yet to be made, and it is unclear when the library will reopen. 
  • New Orleans Center for the Education of Adults, 1815 St. Claude Ave.: Built in 1908 and formerly known as McDonogh No. 16, this three-story school was still in use at the time of Katrina. Though it sustained little or no damage, it did not reopen and has been scheduled for demolition by school officials. "This building is located on a crucial corner lot in a neighborhood that can ill afford the loss of another substantial building on a primary corner, " the society says. 


The sites on the 2010 list are:

  •  Professor Longhair's house, 1740 Terpsichore St.: Music legend Henry Roeland Byrd (1918-1980), aka Professor Longhair, lived in this late 19th century house. A pianist, singer and songwriter, "Fess" was little known outside New Orleans during his life but was later inducted into both the Blues Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. His house, now divided into three units, looks to be uninhabitable, the landmarks society said. 
  •  Abandoned and decommissioned churches and places of worship: Many New Orleans churches have lost their congregations and been abandoned. "Losing these buildings to fire, demolition and neglect is a cultural and architectural tragedy," the society said. Among others, it cited Felicity Street Methodist and Fellowship Missionary Baptist churches, for sale but deteriorating; Chevra Thilim Synagogue in Broadmoor, slated for demolition; and St. Maurice Catholic Church, an 1852 Gothic Revival building in Holy Cross, closed since Katrina. Although costly to repair, churches can be turned into community centers, art studios, theaters, residences or restaurants, the society said. 
  • Bracketed house, 3623 Camp St.: An example of the bracketed style of shotgun architecture, this home was constructed in 1889 as one in a row of three residences. In 1911 it became the residence for the custodian of an adjacent school, but it has been abandoned for many years. The Orleans Parish School Board recently asked state education officials to return control of the New Orleans Free School, including this property, to the board for disposition or adaptive reuse. Former police station, 2552 St. Philip St.: This 1902 Queen Anne-style structure, owned by the city, is for sale, but the society said that given its condition and location, the city's $1 million-plus asking price is too high. "Without a realistic appraisal and a buyer, this property threatens to become a victim of demolition by neglect," it said. Because it is in a designated cultural district, it is eligible for sizable restoration tax credits. 
  • Lafayette Cemetery No. 1: This 19th century city-owned cemetery in the Garden District is one of the most accessible to tourists and residents and has been featured in many movies. But the society said it is endangered by two massive oak trees, which may destroy 30 tombs, and by inadequate groundskeeping, improper maintenance and possible damage by poorly supervised film crews. 
  •  General Laundry, Cleaners and Dyers Building, 2512 St. Peter St.: This art deco building, built in 1939, has a visually striking front facade attached to a nondescript warehouse. New Orleans has only a handful of remaining art deco buildings, and this is by far the most colorful, with brightly hued terra cotta. The facade was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. The building is being used for storage, but the facade suffers from neglect and lack of maintenance. 
  • Mid-City Historic District: This National Register neighborhood includes Italianate, colonial revival and bungalow/craftsman architectural styles dating from 1850 to 1950. Demolition of homes has begun in a 27-block hospital district, although nonprofit groups hope to save significant structures by moving them to lots outside the district. Meanwhile, an even larger area is threatened by potential encroachment of medical, educational and research uses, the society said. 
  • Dew Drop Inn, 2836 La Salle St.: This legendary African-American club, once dubbed "New Orleans' swankiest nightclub" by the Louisiana Weekly, opened in 1939 and featured top-flight local and national acts until 1970. The two buildings also held a barber shop, restaurant, barroom and hotel, all operated by the Painia family. Still owned by the founder's grandson, who would like to restore it, the Dew Drop Inn is in need of repair and restoration. 
  • Audubon Park Tennis Courts: In 1949, Audubon Park bought land stretching from Tchoupitoulas Street to the levee for athletic fields. Children's Hospital recently sought to lease the site and replace its tennis courts and baseball field with hospital buildings. The hospital has since dropped the plan, saying it will pursue expansion at another site, but the society said it is concerned the Audubon Park Commission might again consider leasing this "valuable and historic community resource."

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