The Louisiana Landmarks Society, which promotes historic preservation through education, advocacy and operation of the Pitot House, has announced the sites selected for its 2019 New Orleans’ Nine Most Endangered list.
Two Uptown buildings were listed on Louisiana Landmarks Society’s list: the McDonogh 7 building on 1111 Milan St. and a three-story Greek Revival building near the Lower Garden District at riverfront 425 Celeste St.
The Louisiana Landmarks Society also listed two citywide threats; former movie theaters and Sewerage & Water Board infrastructure were named as endangered.
Modeled on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s listing of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places, the New Orleans’ Nine was inaugurated by Louisiana Landmarks Society in 2005.
The list aims to save historic sites and facilities that may be threatened by demolition, neglect or bureaucracy. Through an annual announcement the Society seeks to gain publicity for endangered places, to advocate for sound preservation policies, and to educate the public that the loss of these resources would diminish the community.
“Our list this year is a selection of endangered sites that spans the history and geography of the city, from a Creole cottage in Tremé to the lifeblood of our city, the sewerage and water infrastructure,” said Michael Duplantier, president of the Landmarks Society “These and seven other sites beg for investment so that they can continue to serve the New Orleans community.”
The naming of the New Orleans’ Nine follows a citywide call for nominations from individuals, neighborhood associations, and historic and architectural organizations, the Landmarks Society stated. The final choices are based upon selection criteria such as historic, architectural, civic and cultural value, the severity of the threat, and the degree of community commitment to save the property.
The threat named by the Landmarks Society is demolition by neglect.
Designed by renowned architect William A. Freret, this stately brick edifice is one of the oldest remaining McDonogh schools in New Orleans. The building, which currently houses Audubon Charter School’s upper grades, has endured years of deferred maintenance. The Audubon Charter School is set to leave after the 2020-21 school year.
Citing the cost of renovation, the Orleans Parish School Board recently classified it as surplus property, sparking litigation from concerned neighbors. The board is currently reported to be negotiating a property swap with the Housing Authority of New Orleans with no concrete plans for the school’s continued use of redevelopment.
While New Orleans has several examples of schools converted into housing, the lack of specific plans and commitments from HANO has stoked concerns that the building could further deteriorate or be threatened with intentional demolition.
425 Celeste Street
This building is threatened by demolition by neglect and by full demolition.
This three-story Greek revival style store-house stands as a lonely reminder of the importance of the riverfront area of the Lower Garden District in the economic development of 19th Century New Orleans.
Today this significant circa-1865 commercial remnant faces several threats, the most immediate of which is demolition by neglect. Architectural details such as cast-iron columns are weathering and falling off, and several column capitals are missing.
While cited as a contributing element to the National Register’s Lower Garden District, it does not fall within the Historic Districts Landmark Commission’s jurisdiction for local protection.
A second threat to this building is that it will be consumed by the large-scale development planned in the immediate area.
The Selection Committee was chaired by Landmarks Society board members Nathan Lott and Sally Reeves, an archivist and historian; Landmarks Society president Michael Duplantier; attorneys James R. Logan, IV, Thomas W. Milliner, and Charles Whited, Jr.; architect Peter Trapolin; neighborhood leaders Amy F. Stelly, and Anne F. Redd, architect and past chairman R. Stephen Chauvin; architectural historians Hilary Somerville Irvin and Gabrielle Begué; Landmarks Society past president Sandra L. Stokes; Landmarks Society Director of Business Operations Donna Lednicky and Tulane University intern Krista Guzzo.