HDLC endorses new National Register listings, denies house elevations in Parkview

At its May 3 meeting, the New Orleans Historic District Landmarks Commission gave its blessing to placing Lincoln Beach and the Hollygrove Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places. The commission’s review, required because New Orleans is a Certified Local Government, was the first of three approvals needed. Next, the proposals head to Baton Rouge for the Louisiana National Register Review Committee meeting on May 25. Lastly, the National Park Service will conduct an administrative review. You can read the nominations and find out more about the May 25 meeting online here: https://www.crt.state.la.us/cultural-development/historic-preservation/national-register/

Opened in 1939 on land donated by fruit magnate Samuel Zemurray, Lincoln Beach offered African American residents of Jim Crow-era New Orleans a beach on the shores of Lake Pontchartrain. A swimming pool and amusement park were added in the 1950s. Lincoln Beach never reopened after Hurricane Betsy in 1965, but it remains a place of fond memories for many. The City of New Orleans has allocated money to reopen Lincoln Beach and planning is underway.

Starting around 1910, the Hollygrove neighborhood grew lakeside of Carrollton as suburban housing replaced agricultural fields. It was populated predominantly by immigrants and African Americans and remains a majority Black neighborhood today. Portions of the neighborhood were not built until after World War II, when improved drainage enabled construction in low-lying areas of New Orleans and the Baby Boom fueled a housing crunch. Though it suffered flooding after Hurricane Katrina and subsequent demolitions, many original houses remain, as does a spirit of resilience and community.

Also at the May 3 meeting, the HDLC denied requests to elevate two houses in the Parkview local historic district, 39-42 Allard Blvd. and 720 Moss St. The former is an Eastlake raised basement and the latter an Arts and Crafts bungalow. In each case, the HDLC acted on staff recommendations. Changing a building’s typology (e.g., from a single-story shotgun to a double gallery) has long been frowned upon in “full control” historic districts. A 2021 code revision increased the level of review for elevations in “partial control” districts such as Parkview, Mid-City, Uptown and Carrollton.

While New Orleans has a long tradition of elevating structures, changes in typology can erode the “integrity” of a district; in extreme cases, diminished “integrity” can result in removal from the National Register of Historic Places. In many cases, such changes necessitate the loss of significant amounts of historic fabric, but the owner of 720 Moss was quick to point out that elevation of the structure, which was built on piers, preserves more of the original building material than would a permissible rear addition. The city council now must re-evaluate the HDLC’s ruling, as both owners have appealed.

39-42 Allard Blvd (photo 1) and 720 Moss St (photo 2), images via Google Maps