16 PRESERVATION IN PRINT • www.prcno.org Ms. Marion, 98 years old, called her niece Marga- ret Carr in 2014 with a proposition. “Margaret,” she said, “I want to be a partner in your building.” Ms. Marion, who moved into the Lafitte Hous- ing project when it opened in the 1940s and lived there until her death last year at age 100, was proud of her niece. Margaret, along with hus- band David Carr and daughter Teresa Thomas, had purchased an iconic but long-vacant build- ing — the Tremé Market Branch, a former Canal Savings and Trust bank branch at 800 N. Clai- borne Ave. — with plans to restore it and reopen it as a rentable event and performance space. “I told her it would cost $100 to be a partner, but of course I didn’t accept her money,” Mar- garet said recently. “But I printed her a certifi- cate of partnership, which made her very proud.” Though Margaret, a nurse, purchased the cir- ca-1925 building in 2013, she wasn’t able to secure the funds needed to renovate. “We approached many banks, but none of them would lend us money,” she said. “Some would accept our applica- tion but make the process very challenging; even community programs with the mission of assisting challenged small business owners would not assist.” The grand brick building, which features an original Spanish tile roof, large arched windows and, inside, a lobby with a 21-foot tall ceiling, had been empty for 32 years when the Carr and Thomas family purchased it. “The community is excited to have this building restored,” Margaret said. “Every time the doors are open, people wan- der in to see. Many have never seen this build- ing open.” Margaret believes that neighbors have respect for the historic building. In a neighbor- hood filled with graffiti tags, the Tremé Market Branch has only been vandalized once — a tiny tag drawn on an already broken window. “We have good vibes in the community,” she said. “The past two years have given us the chance to really get to know the community,” Teresa said. “We’ve been letting people know that we’re here and that we want the building to be an asset for them.” Tremé Market Branch was a Prospect 3 art site in late 2014, being recognized as a “must see” New Orleans location by the New York Times. The family also put decorated Christmas trees in va- cant lots throughout Tremé the past two years and partnered with local businesses to host children for holiday festivities as a sign of neighborhood good will. “We are confident in this area, and believe this business will be transformative for the com- munity and North Claiborne Avenue,” Teresa said. Fidelity Bank saw the family’s dedication and lent them money for the renovation in late 2015. The project is approved for historic tax credits as well, which will assist with costs. The good vibes will continue as, some time around Mardi Gras of this year, Tremé Mar- ket Branch opens as an event and performance venue with a 220-person capacity. With a new roof, warming kitchen, updated systems, bath- rooms, a new mezzanine level and grand dou- ble staircase, and restored brickwork outside and plaster inside, the building is sure to be one that will make Tremé proud. –Danielle Del Sol PICTURED: TERESA THOMAS (LEFT) AND MARGARET CARR (RIGHT) FEBRUARY 201 6