2018’s Nine Most Endangered New Orleans Landmarks

by • June 4, 2018 • HistoricComments (0)2167

Each year, the Louisiana Landmark Society releases its annual list of New Orleans’ most endangered historic sites.  You can see prior years for 2017 (here) and 2015 (here).

Last week, the Louisiana Landmarks Society released its 2018 list, which you can see below.  All photos courtesy of the Louisiana Landmark Society.

2018 New Orleans’ Nine List

 

1. Spanish Fort

LOCATION: Bayou St. John and Lake Pontchartrain

THREAT: Vandalism and Exposure

Fort St. John or “Spanish Fort” at the mouth of Bayou St. John is the location of fortifications that have existed  from the earliest days of New Orleans to protect the city from attack by way of Lake Pontchartrain. The present fortifications were built by the United States in 1808, making the fort one of the oldest structures in New Orleans. Although placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982, the remaining brick ramparts continue to decline due to vandalism and exposure. Controlled by City Park, the fort forms no part of City Park’s 2018 Master Plan. This remarkable link to the Bayou’s earliest days will continue to deteriorate unless action is taken.

 

2. New Orleans African American Museum

LOCATION: 1418 Gov ernor Nicholls Street

THREAT: Demolition by Neglect

Located in Treme, the NOAAM includes seven historical structures on a former plantation site. The main building, the Meilleur-Goldthwaite House (1828-1829) is a raised center-hall cottage considered to be the finest remaining “master house” in the city. In 1991 the City of New Orleans purchased and restored the Villa Meilleur to establish the non-profit NOAAM. The museum’s finances have always been unstable. Its future is clouded by controversy over misspent federal grant funds, an untimely purchase of another building needing extensive repairs, overall failed administrative planning and estimating, and bad luck. A successful capital campaign would return these historic structures to public use.

3. McDonogh No.11 School

LOCATION: N. Claiborne Avenue

THREAT: Demolition by Neglect

Originally at Palmyra and S. Prieur, the 1878 three-story McDonogh No. 11 remains one of only a few schools by famed architect William Freret. Renovated in 1951, it later served as Priestly School of Architecture and Construction and the New Orleans Center for Health Careers. The stately structure was part of the 67 acre swath targeted for the new UMC and VA complexes. Decrying the absurdity of the just-spent $3M to restore it after Katrine, preservationists saved it from demolition. The state acquiesced, agreeing to move the building. Over two years, the state spent hundred of thousands relocating it three times until it landed, isolated, in the interstate exit ramp curve in 2013. It remains on prominent public display, deteriorating.

 

4. Old Holy Cross School

LOCATION: 4950 Dauphine Street

THREAT: Demolition by Neglect

Built in 1895 by the Brothers of Holy Cross, this 4-story Italianate school is the sole remnant of the expansive campus that was abandoned after Katrina-related damage. Despite intense opposition, the City Council approved a 2014 redevelopment plan that would include two new 60 foot residential towers and the renovation of the former school. Neighborhood critics argued the project would overwhelm the surrounding community. Construction was announced for early 2016, yet today the handsome brick and cast iron structure stand untouched, choked with weeds and graffiti. The developers point to financial delays outside of their control yet residents wonder if the long-stalled project will only hasten the decline of their neighborhood’s namesake.

 

5. Rudolph T. P. Danneel School Caretaker’s Cottage 

LOCATION: 5703 Annunciation Street

THREAT: Demolition by Neglect

In the late 19th & early 20th centuries, custodial residences were often placed on school grounds. One such cottage is on the corner of Annunciation and Arabella, part of the uptown campus of the Ben Franklin Elementary School. This historic side-gallery shotgun may be older than the original Rudolph T. P. Danneel School c. 1908. In 2011, the Orleans Parish School Board recognized the “historic property,” “deteriorated conditions” and its “blight to the surrounding neighborhoods.” The Board voted unanimously to transfer this cottage to surplus and issue a competitive Request For Proprosal for its sale and physical removal, but no action was taken. Seven years later, poorly secured, dangerously abandoned and still a public nuisance, this precious historic cottage needs a new and more responsible caretaker.  Contact OPSB if it could be you.

 

6. Audubon Park Shelter 13

LOCATION: 6600 Block Magazine Street

THREAT: Possible Demolition

The concept of Audubon Park as a fun desitnation rather than a place of quiet meditation emerged in the early 1920s. To serve this public use, park planners commissioned various attractions and structures, one of which is the threatened Shelter 13, designed in 1921 by architect Sam Stone, Jr. Also president of the Audubon Park Commission, Stone drew plans for such local landmarks as the Masonic Temple and Maison Blanche. Constructed for restrooms in the busy Magazine Street area, Shelter 13 sits forbiddingly boarded up and fenced in. Current plans do not specify what will happen to this historic remnant but possibilities range from converting it to a security station to demolition. Neighborhood advocates urge its renovation to its public use.

 

7. Historic Lampposts

LOCATION: Historic Districts

THREAT: Demolition by Neglect

Neglected for decades, the damaged lamp stands along St. Charles Avenue and other local thoroughfares mar our picturesque streetscapes. The vast majority of the over 300 St. Charles Avenue cast iron streetlight stands have been left to rust, with missing trap doors, collars and collapsing bases. Some are missing entirely, the stubs of once beautiful lampposts ignominiously marked with orange cones. Installed about 1925 with their original rams’ horn arcs at the top, the lampposts once provided the city with handsome and utilitarian street art. Today, owing to city and RTA neglect, they are literally falling apaprt.

 

8. Loew’s State Theatre

LOCATION: 1100 Block of Canal Street

THREAT: Partial Demolition

One of the chain of theaters developed by movie pioneer Marcus Loew, the Loew’s State Theatre in the 1100 block of Canal Street was hailed at its opening in 1926 as an “acme of grace and beauty.” Designed by famed theater architect Thomas Lamb with more than 3,000 seats and an opera house style, this movie and vaudeville palace had the requisite opulence to showcase the top films of the then emerging Hollywood studios. The Loew’s State, and the 1927 Saenger Theatre across the street, for decades served to establish Canal Street as the preferred destination for a luxury theater experience in the gulf south. Now threatened with the proposed construction of a high-rise hotel, this stately and dignified theater remains intact and awaits a proper restoration to return it to full functionality and service for years to come.

 

9. Civil Defense Control Center

LOCATION: West End Boulevard

THREAT: Demolition by Neglect

Deep below the wide neutral ground on West End Boulevard lies a relic of the Cold War. Opened in 1962, the Civil Defense Control Center is a subterranean bunker capable of shielding occupants from radiation in the event of nuclear attack. Radio and telephone equipment, medical supplies, an sleeping quarters were placed in rooms radiating out from a circular map room. Rescue and recovery efforts for Hurricane Betsy in 1965 were orchestrated there. The structure was shuttered in the mid-90s. The Civil Defense Center is a public building that has outlived its purpose, but hopefully will find a new use that recognizes its significance in our nation’s history.

 

Established in 1950, Louisiana Landmarks Society is one of the state’s oldest nonprofit preservation organizations, whose mission is to promote historic preservation through education, advocacy and operation of the Pitot House. Landmarks rapidly defined preservation advocacy in New Orleans through campaigns that resulted in the protection of Gallier Hall, the Carrollton Courthouse building, and defeat of the proposed Riverfront Expressway in the 1960s. Landmarks’ most visible manifestation of its preservation principles is the historic c. 1799 Pitot House. Landmarks removed the Pitot House from the threat of demolition in 1964 when it acquired and relocated the structure 200 feet to its present home. Today, the Pitot House functions as Landmarks’ headquarters and as a historic house museum and meeting place.

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