This story appeared in the February/March issue of PRC’s Preservation in Print magazine. Interested in getting more preservation stories like this delivered to your door? Become a member of the PRC for a subscription!
Last year in time for Valentine’s Day, the PRC launched the NOLA Love Notes contest. Inspired by the New York Times’ Tiny Love Stories series, we asked readers what they love most about their favorite buildings in New Orleans.
Here are our top three picks of some of the captivating stories you submitted. Each of these following writers will receive a PRC T-shirt of their choice. Read many other wonderful submissions on the PRC’s social media — @PRCNO on Twitter, @PRCNOLA on Instagram and PRCNO on Facebook. All of the stories were heartfelt, joyful and will make you fall in love with our beautiful city once again — despite its many challenges.
5809 St. Charles Avenue
by Nancy Jaynes
When I first laid eyes upon your extravagant loveliness, I was a teen, passing Rosa Park as the streetcar clattered down the avenue. You left me hungry for another glimpse. I was in awe of your garlanded Corinthian columns and ornamented fenestration, hardly suitable for the likes of proletarian me.
I began stalking you. Subsequent sightings teased my vision with your resplendent entablature, festooned with delicate botanical swags and garlands, and your exquisitely curvilinear balustrade. I pictured a confectioner’s delight in your sugary scrumptiousness. You were a frosted three-storied confection, and I wanted to possess you.
I pledge continued devotion; indeed, I want to practice domesticity with you. I desire you to be my wedding cake house! I created a fantasy world with you, yet my heart is still yours after all these years of longing for your delicious tiers and swags.
With utmost sincerity,
Your Architecture Lover
Corpus Christi Epiphany Catholic Church
by Kirstie Myvett
I can never just drive past you in a rush. You pull me to you like a magnet. I slow down and point, proudly telling my children how you once belonged to me — my church and my school. They’ve heard it countless times, but still they smile, not fully understanding the impact you’ve had on my life. I’m flooded with happy memories when I see you: First Holy Communion, advent candles, butts in squeaky pews, my brief stint as an altar girl, and walking down your long-tiled aisle for my eighth grade graduation. There are sad memories too — funerals of loved ones, some gone way too soon. But that’s what makes you a Seventh Ward landmark. You stand with opened doors and outstretched arms — a source of comfort and familiarity through the good and bad times — home.
My shotgun home
by Desiree McSwain
I met a boy from this happy city,
Kind, sweet, and oh so pretty!
He shared with me his love for the Dome,
And now we live together in his shotgun home.
When you in walk in the front door,
You can see a whole lot more.
All the way through from beginning to end,
A dad’s eye view of his daughter’s boyfriend.
You have to admit, the old design makes sense,
When there was no AC, the heat was intense.
Then suddenly, a breeze would cool you down,
Just for a sweet second in this hot sweaty town.
Let us not forget about my favorite part,
The porch of course, it’s a work of art.
I read my book and drink my tea,
Say hello to my neighbor who looks for his key.
And yes I know my room has no doors,
But I love the high ceilings and hardwood floors.
My shotgun home, you are truly unique,
So I promise to take care of you like an old antique!
Thank you to everyone who submitted NOLA Love Notes!
What picks me up 5 days a week? My drive through City Park and NOMA. It’s a perfect photo opportunity taken from my vehicle’s window or on foot, mentally preparing me for the activities of the day. Forty plus years employed as a support worker, I liken myself to one of the four columns that support this magnificent building. I hope that my contribution to the workforce is compatible. NOMA has survived much and still stands tall, just as I thru major hurricanes, a tornado, and currently, the pandemic. Thank you NOMA. My strength. I live life through your example.
– Leslie S. Everage
While not grand, ornate or colorful, it is “the Gem of the Riverbend” standing firm on the corner of Cambronne and Burthe, surrounded by a quiet neighborhood of modest but distinctly classic New Orleans homes. It is a beacon of hope and stability. Its single tall, yet not towering, bell tower can be seen from Leake Avenue and by levee enthusiasts. After 100 years, the St. Joan of Arc church building has seen a lot of history. Its simple wooden floors and pews and understated fleur de lis patterned stained glass windows continue to beckon worshippers each Sunday morning with a traditional Mass followed by a vibrant, enthusiastic Gospel Mass. It has a connection with American born saint Katharine Drexel and the university she founded. From a building loan to the wedding of its first lay president, and attendance by its current one. The church stands as a reminder of segregation with its Italian and German roots, yet is welcoming to all. It is small, but mighty and a source of hope and pride in a city that needs it.
— Carol Dotson
While the green-red-green exterior of the Friendly Bar on Chartres and Marigny streets isn’t much to look at (aptly described by a coworker as a “World War II bunker”), it’s my favorite structure in New Orleans. The bartenders helped us celebrate a wedding during Hurricane Nate. The glittery ceiling tinsel rotates for all major holidays (RIP original decorator Steve). The location is a perfect jumping off point into the fray – our most commonly uttered phrase is “meet at Friendly.” And it’s where my husband and I had our first kiss on Mardi Gras Day 2013.
— Mary McCarthy
I’m a Tulane alum and our daughter is a senior at Loyola. I fell in love with New Orleans the day I showed up for college. As an architecture buff, the city inspires me on so many levels. As a former sitcom writer now working as a mystery author, my visits through the River Parishes and Cajun Country inspired the setting for my award-winning Cajun Country Mystery series, where a family operates their historic plantation as a B&B, determined to preserve it for the future while acknowledging the dark side of its past. In June, I’ll launch a new series set in a Garden District mansion-turned culinary house museum. I spent hours wandering the Garden District searching for the perfect inspiration for the site, eventually landing on the Walter Grinnan Robinson House. But if I’m forced to zero in on one particular historical location for this love note, it would be the Doullut Steamboat Houses in Holy Cross. They’re spectacular, unique, and if I’m lucky, a future protagonist in a new series will be calling one of them home. (Although I’ll be moving the house upriver to the fictional setting of my Cajun Country Mysteries.)
— Ellen Byron
As a fan of mid-century modern architecture, I have to say New Orleans possesses quite the jewel at 3722 St. Charles Ave. — the Unity Temple, constructed in 1961. Whether known as “The Round Church of St. Charles” or “The Crescent City Flying Saucer”, or even, “The Eyesore of the Garden District”, this unique structure captures the mid-century modern architectural movement at its absolute zenith. Possessing no right-angled walls whatsoever, this church has long been a living, breathing time-capsule of continuing faith, and remains a timeless reflection of the very BEST of eclectic New Orleans architecture.
— Kenny Tucker
One of my favorite NOLA buildings is the Saenger Theatre. I’ve made so many wonderful memories there. The history and survival that building has seen…if walls could speak! A treasure that deserves all of our love year round.
— Susan W.