Former Civil War hospital site, long demolished, denied landmark status by HDLC

At the Dec. 7 meeting of the New Orleans Historic District Landmarks Commission (HDLC), the commissioners debated whether 914 Dante St. should become a local landmark. It was the site of a Union hospital during the Civil War. However, the HDLC staff stated that the building standing there today dates to 1885, citing the Carrollton volume of the Friends of the Cabildo’s authoritative architectural survey, New Orleans Architecture: Volume IX: Carrollton. The commission ultimately sided with the owner, who opposed the nomination when a motion was made by Uptown Commissioner R. Stephanie Bruno failed for lack of a second.

The HDLC opted not to fine the current owner of the property at 2508-10 Laurel St., Crescent City Developers, for an unpermitted demolition that occurred on the parcel in June of 2021, prior to its sale in March of 2022. A new two-story house was approved for the site in the Irish Channel.

The HDLC deferred action on a request to demolish the raised double at 420 S. Galvez St., owned by LSU Health Foundation, to make way for a new hotel serving the medical district. Mid-City Commissioner Annie Clark asked the development team to consider incorporating the house into its plans for the site, and Bruno suggested it could be relocated to the margins of the site. It will be reconsidered in February with additional information.

The owners of the property at 740 Jena St. pled for permission to demolish the house, contending that successive alterations have stripped the structure of historic significance. The former corner store was remodeled into a single-family home in the early- or mid-20th century. The city’s inspection report deemed the property in fair condition, saying it “could be rehabilitated without unreasonable burden.” Bruno moved to approve the demolition but motion received no second. Irish Channel Commissioner Greg Hackenburg moved to deny it, and that motion passed.

The HDLC deferred a request by the City of New Orleans to demolish the blighted house at 815 Third St. after a lengthy discussion with a deputy city attorney representing the Department of Code Enforcement. No heirs of the deceased former owner have stepped forward to claim responsibility. The city may be able to force a sheriff’s sale, but with no guarantee that the buyer will renovate. After the owner of another property on the block stated his hope that the building be rehabilitated, the commission requested that an interior inspection be conducted before making its decision.

A litany of retention applications closed the meeting, prompting the familiar reminder that owners should always seek the proper permits before making alterations to a building. Changes made without a certificate of appropriateness from the HDLC may not be eligible for retention, forcing owners to pay twice to fix them.  A video of the meeting is available here.

Nathan Lott is PRC’s Policy Research Director and Advocacy Coordinator.