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.