This story appeared in the June issue of the PRC’s Preservation in Print magazine. Interested in getting more preservation stories like this delivered to your door each month? Become a member of the PRC for a subscription!
Today, the 120-year-old house at 8405 Jeannette St. is a beauty. Freshly restored, it’s filled with historic character and sought-after amenities, including a spacious new camelback addition.
Just two years ago, though, it was slated for demolition, and all of its architectural details could have ended up in a landfill.
The remarkable turn-around for this once-blighted property came about thanks to the work of the PRC’s Operation Comeback program and developer Eagle Eye Resources.
The house, originally built in 1892, sat vacant for several years before it surfaced on the PRC’s radar. An out-of-state mortgage company “had it for sale for many months and had requested permission from the City of New Orleans to demolish the whole property,” said Becky Gipson, director of Operation Comeback. The demolition plan was met with vocal opposition from many parties, including the PRC’s Advocacy program.
Before & after
Operation Comeback — which identifies blighted buildings, then purchases, renovates and returns them to commerce — jumped in to buy the property from the mortgage firm, which simply wanted to rid itself of responsibility for the house.
The program then “cleaned up the yard, trimmed the trees that were bothering the neighbors, and boarded up the property” to prevent against any further vandalism, Gipson said.
The house needed a full-scale renovation, so Operation Comeback looked for a buyer that would restore its century-old character and strengthen its place within the Carrollton Historic District. Eagle Eye Resources fit that role perfectly.
Founders Gerald Baptiste and Korey Williams began in the facilities maintenance business, but soon expanded to acquiring blighted properties across the city and renovating them. Both are from New Orleans and take great pride in targeting houses with great potential.
The recently completed house on Jeannette Street originally was a single shotgun with a side-bay at the rear. The lot size was wide enough that a camelback could be added without sacrificing the balance or the defining visual character of the property.
To maintain the historic integrity of the original house, the PRC put a protective covenant in place, requiring a review process for any major changes. Operation Comeback and the PRC’s Preservation Easement program reviewed the plans and gave suggestions for the renovation. The addition was found to be appropriate, and now a second floor with two bedrooms overlooks the neighborhood.
Eagle Eye installed new energy-efficient insulation, air conditioning and appliances. Both a front and rear porch allow for shad-ed outdoor seating, with backyard space perfect for family living. Baptiste Holdings brokered funding for the project, and Thomas M. Smith P.E. Consulting Engineer oversaw the engineering work.
This project is one small example of the redevelopment process done right, with responsible stewardship from all parties. As a result, this fine house is ready to become a home once again.