The City Council on Thursday (Sept. 23) approved a third-floor addition to a Garden District mansion owned by Sharonda Anderson, the mother of Pelicans star Zion Williamson. Anderson and architect John Williams had appealed the Historic District Landmarks Commission’s denial of their request to demolish 62% of the roof to add a screening room, workout room and guest bedroom to the 7,457-square-foot historic residence on First and Coliseum streets. The architects have since revised the design so that it’s less visible from the street, but the HDLC’s Eleanor Burke said the commission staff believes the addition would still undermine the architectural integrity of the building and the neighborhood and would set a precedent that could affect all of the city’s historic districts. The HDLC has partial control in the Garden District, giving it jurisdiction over demolitions and new construction only.
The demolition of a former classroom building next to the Carrollton Courthouse cost the developers the highest possible fine levied by the Historic District Landmark Commission, a fine the commissioners bemoaned as not high enough. The wood-frame building, deemed historic by the HDLC, was torn down in May to make room for the an addition to the Greek Revival landmark building, which is being converted to an assisted living and memory-care residence. The 1,400-square-foot school building dates to the 19th century, the HDLC has determined. The Carrollton Courthouse only briefly operated as a courthouse for the town of Carrollton when it was the seat of Jefferson Parish, according to a history of the building by the HDLC. It was converted to a school, then McDonogh 23, after the area was annexed to New Orleans in 1874.
The pews are gone. The baptismal font and religious statues have been removed, and the church bell is no longer in the belfry. Even the stained glass windows are in storage elsewhere. For now, Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church at 2400 Napoleon Ave. awaits the next chapter in its nearly 100-year history.
The Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans is bringing back Shotgun House Month in a virtual format throughout June. Shotgun House Month is a series of house tours and programs that highlight the history and the distinctive design of of these quintessentially New Orleans homes. This year, the Preservation Resource Center will forego in-person tours in favor of live guided virtual tours. These include tours of Uptown homes — the home of Emma Fick and Helvio Prevelato Gregorio on June 19 and the home of Julie Neill on June 27. The tours will showcase shotgun homes throughout the city that have undergone smart renovations, highlighting the livability and versatility of the historic house type.
The real estate market in Central City is hot right now. At the high end, a house on South Rampart Street recently sold for $600,000 and two others, on Josephine Street and South Liberty Street, have sold in the $400,000 range. At the other end of the price and move-in ready spectrum, a house on South Robertson Street, which looks like it is only a façade covered in cat’s claw at this point, sold for $30,000. These homes and prices also reflect the evolving housing stock of the neighborhood. A quick drive around reveals modest family homes next to abandoned houses in a state of an advanced decay next to gleaming renovations.
There are few, if any, churches that have the treasures of St. Alphonsus, which opened in 1857 in the Lower Garden District. Once past its front doors, the church’s beauty — the ceiling frescos by Italian-born New Orleans artist Dominico Canova, the stained glass windows by German artist F.X. Zettler and the hand-carved walnut communion rail — are a revelation. But behind the pretty façade, there are problems.
The frescoes are damaged by water, noticeable by the wooden laths seen in the ceiling where a painted cherub could have been. The lead pieces that hold together the stained glass windows are disintegrating.
The COVID-19 shutdown this spring resulted in the cancellation of many popular events, including the Preservation Resource Center’s annual Shotgun House Tour, a major fundraiser for the nonprofit devoted to the historical preservation of New Orleans architecture and cultural identity. Now the PRC is bringing back the beloved tour in a safe and entertaining way — online. This virtual event will present Shotgun Sundays featuring a different house every Sunday at 4 p.m. in July and August. Participants can take a guided virtual tour through each home. From the comfort of their couch, they can learn about the history each home and the individual use of space to suit a modern lifestyle.
The former St. Francis de Sales Church is featured in the Preservation Resource Center’s Preservation Fest 2020, a full day of free online programs.
Built circa 1867, just two years after the Civil War, the stately St. Francis de Sales Church served as a Catholic church parish until 2008, when it was sold by the Archdiocese of New Orleans and deconsecrated. The wooden church building remained vacant for nine years and fell into disrepair before developer Peter Gardner purchased it in 2017 and commenced an extensive restoration. Today from 12:30 to 1 p.m., take a virtual tour of the property here on the PRC Facebook page. For a Preservation Fest schedule, see here.
The unassuming 1970s apartment building on Napoleon Avenue and Chestnut Street could have met the wrecking ball. It’s not the kind of building New Orleanians tend to rally around. Instead, it was given a new life as the Cypres Condos. On Wednesday, the Preservation Resource Center will celebrate its renovation by holding a Beams and Brews at the site. These happy hours give the public an insiders’ view of some of the city’s most interesting renovation projects, while sipping adult beverages.
The city’s Department of Property Management is set to begin revitalizing and restoring Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, one of the city’s most treasured historic resting places and a popular tourist attraction. The DPM will work alongside District B City Councilman Jay Banks, representatives from other city departments, as well as local historic preservationists to plan and complete the repairs, a city press release states. Graves at the site date back to the 1830s. “We are excited about the opportunity to complete these much-needed repairs for our residents and for the many tourists who come to appreciate the cemetery’s history,” said Ramsey Green, Deputy CAO for Infrastructure.