The Louisiana Landmarks Society’s 2023 New Orleans’ Nine Most Endangered sites list covers a substantial amount of ground, not only identifying individual buildings in various neighborhoods, but also targeting systemic preservation issues, both citywide and within historic districts. The society unveiled the list Tuesday at a press conference at the Pitot House.
New Orleans Nine, which started in 2005 and is modeled on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places, draws attention to historic buildings or sites that are threatened by demolition, neglect or bureaucracy.
At the press conference, architect and architectural historian Robert Cangelosi, Jr., presented on one of the sites on the list, Madame John’s Legacy, which is undergoing a controversial renovation. Cangelosi noted its status as a National Historic Landmark, lamented that recommendations of preservationists have been repeatedly ignored during the project, and stated that the building is being considered by the National Trust for next year’s list of 11 endangered places.
Jackie Harris, president of the Save Our Soul Coalition and executive director of the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation, shared thoughts on another site from the list: Louis Armstrong Park. She stressed the park’s architectural and cultural significance, particularly emphasizing the noteworthy associations of the site with African American history and music, while remembering the important role that the Municipal Auditorium has played in the lives of New Orleanians.
President of the New Orleans chapter of DOCOMOMO, Ian Mills, called attention to the classic modernism of City Hall, which also was listed on the 2023 New Orleans’ Nine, noting that the building has never been renovated and lacks any landmark protections. Another site from the list, the Garden of the Americas, was built in 1957 (the same year as City Hall) as a memorial to the city’s economic and cultural ties to South America. Michael Duplantier, co-chair of the New Orleans’ Nine Committee, decried the years of neglect and the loss of public green space when presenting about the Garden of the Americas.
Lastly, Debra Howell discussed the loss of residential housing resulting from short-term rentals and “doubles to dormitories,” particularly relevant in the Carrollton/University neighborhoods, warning that New Orleans is becoming a “city for strangers instead of New Orleanians.”
During closing remarks, the the Louisiana Landmarks Society clarified that the HDLC/VCC Commissions are on the list, not as a criticism of the commissioners or staff themselves, but in response to City Council’s propensity to overturn their decisions. The full list of endangered sites, with a description and associated threat, is included below.
MaryNell Nolan-Wheatley is PRC’s Advocacy Coordinator & Public Policy Research Director.