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A Carriage House Fit for the GARDEN DISTRICT A multi-year renovation revives a stunning First Street carriage house. BY Danielle Del Sol NATIONWIDE TRENDS toward urban living and “aging in place” have made historic neighborhoods such as New Orleans’ Garden District more popular than ever. This unique neighborhood has limited space, however, and residents are making use of every square inch, including ancillary buildings such as carriage houses. At 1210 First St., Katherine and Tony Gelderman’s home had a beautiful carriage house, but the two-story, two-bedroom, two- and-a-half bath building had not been renovated for over 15 years. It sorely needed re-thinking and “punching up” to make it more attractive and useful. The Geldermans decided first that they wanted to replace the carriage house’s narrow iron spiral staircase. The staircase was difficult to use for all but the most agile climbers, and downright dangerous or impossible for those with mobility issues. They immediately called their close friend and historic architecture expert (and Garden District resident) Davis Jahncke of Jahncke and Burns Architects, and asked him to assist with plans for the project. Jahn- cke involved his associate, architect Andrew Spaulding, and Spaulding knew immediately that a new and more functional staircase would require an in- crease in the footprint of the carriage house. This, he explained, would in turn offer the Geldermans the opportunity to improve the building’s proportions, but it would also mean that the entire carriage house would need to be gut- ted and revised. The Geldermans cheerfully agreed to place the building in the architects’ capable hands, and started on an exciting journey of historic 20 PRESERVATION IN PRINT • www.prcno.org | PHOTOS BY Charles E. Leche restoration and renovation. Intricate projects like this one require a great deal of collaboration and flex- ibility; being experienced, award-winning building renovators themselves, the Geldermans knew this, and assembled a unique design team to assist. In addition to the architects, they brought in another close friend and frequent collaborator, Jeanne Barousse of Jeanne Barousse Designs, as well as Belva Johnson, a well-known New Orleans-based designer of kitchen and baths. Greg Walters joined the group as the contractor. In this renovation, the design phase was purposely not even complete when the demolition permit was issued. This allowed the design team to do selective demolition in order to uncover any hidden problems in the home’s structure or interior. By waiting to design the renovated house until after exploratory demolitions, architects could more accurately customize the design and final- ize estimated costs of the new project using information on parts of the house that may have to go, and others that could be saved. As with many buildings in the Garden District, substantial prior termite damage was uncovered during demolition, as well as a crumbling and insufficient foundation. With these all- too-common discoveries, the Geldermans decided to take the carriage house down to its frame, while hoping to salvage as much of the old lumber and elements as possible. The total gut of the interior revealed a number of clues to the building’s JUNE 2017