As the old adage goes, invest in the young and they take care of you when you are old. Operation Comeback has been investing in the youth of the Louisiana Technical College Region 1 lately to preserve a circa 1930 bungalow at 5204 Burgundy St. in Holy Cross. This collaboration will provide students with the opportunity to renovate a historic four room double shotgun in the Arts & Crafts style, one of 28 houses in the Holy Cross neighborhood that OC is restoring. For the first time, LTC-Region 1 will be offering an architectural technical training course to teach students about the unique architectural history of New Orleans and the techniques that are involved in the preservation and restoration of our heritage.

The Holy Cross Historic District is one of the most architecturally significant national register historic districts, outshining many in the Gulf Coast region. It is an unusually fine neighborhood of historic structure built between 1890 and 1930, most of which are shotguns. This is in sharp contrast to most other neighborhoods of historic structures across the Deep South. Holy Cross is conspicuous because very few communities feature pre-Queen Anne revival structures (i.e. Italianate and Greek Revival) as part of the overall building mix.

The house at 5204 Burgundy St. was damaged by both flood waters and wind during Hurricane Katrina. As a result, the interior has been gutted to the studs, and many details are missing, including all original windows, front multi-lite exterior doors, all interior doors, all original baseboards, and all interior door casings. Students, under the supervision of Louisiana Technical College carpentry instructor Sterling Brignac, will be given on-site instruction in trades ranging from new and repair carpentry to electrical, plumbing, installation of mechanical systems, weatherboard repair, and painting. Licensed contractor Brian Winters, of Brian Winters Renovations, L.L.C., will replace the roof and repair foundation piers, sills, and joists, fabricate new columns, and provide assistance coordinating permits and overseeing site conditions throughout the project.

Contractor Brian Winters is excited about the opportunity to work with students from the Louisiana Technical College. “Historic renovations are what I prefer. When one of these old houses is gone, it’s gone forever. You can build a new house to look old, but it does not have the soul of the old. People can make good money renovating these old structures.”

Completion of 5204 Burgundy is scheduled for the close of the spring semester, but given the enthusiasm and participation generated from this class, there are plans to expand the curriculum of historic preservation for the fall, providing students a unique opportunity to sink their teeth into the rebuilding of historic New Orleans on their way to receiving their diplomas.

“This collaboration is an excellent training opportunity for our students,” says Kim Rugon, provost of the Louisiana Technical College Region 1. “Not only are they learning in the classroom, they are also helping to rebuild a piece of history. This program helps take the student out of the classroom and into the world of the workforce.”