Preservation Challenges Continue in New Orleans

By: Conrad Neuf , Contributing Writer
In: Old Houses, Old House Musings, In The News, Old House History
Sandra Bullocks Old House in New Orleans Garden District

Sandra Bullock's Old House in New Orleans Garden District

New Orleans and the Gulf Coast now have another hill to climb thanks to the oil spill in the Gulf. While the oil spill might not affect homes directly like the flood waters of Katrina did, it could definitely cause people to lose their homes due to income lost from the damaged fishing and tourism industries. I won’t get into whether we should be doing offshore drilling–there are plenty of pros and cons–but I would have hoped, at least, there were plans in place for stopping the flow of oil if a catastrophe occurred.

Preservation in New Orleans

I always knew that New Orleans had a lot of historic old houses, but I never realized that the city has more historic buildings per capita than any other area in the U.S. New Orleans has over 35,000 structures on the National Register of Historic Places. Preservation efforts kicked into high gear after Katrina hit, and organizations such as the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans helped residents with the restoration of not only historic old houses, but all homes that were damaged by the storm.

A 2008 article in This Old House Online talks about the $12.5 million federal preservation grant issued in 2006 that helped New Orleans residents restore their homes, and another $10 million federal preservation grant that provided additional assistance in 2008. The area has been slowly rebounding, and restoration efforts have been ongoing; but challenges still remain.

Restoration Efforts Continue

New Orleans continues to rebuild five years after Katrina, and I hope this latest disaster doesn’t cause the beautiful city a major setback. The Victorian Preservation Association, which I mentioned in a recent blog post on old house societies, lists historic old house museums across the country. New Orleans has more than many cities on the list; however, several are still closed due to continuing restoration efforts, and their Web sites simply say they’re closed due to Katrina damage.

The Examiner discusses the restoration of old houses in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans. While not as well known as the historic homes of the French Quarter and the Garden District, the Lower 9th Ward has many old houses deserving preservation. The Preservation Resource Center is working to help restore these homes and find new owners for them.

I believe that a major factor helping the continued preservation efforts in New Orleans is the celebrity support the city has been receiving. Many musicians, authors, and people in the acting profession have homes in New Orleans, and their public voice is helping the city rebound. Winning the Super Bowl didn’t hurt either.