This story appeared in the September 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!
A team of Preservation Resource Center employees and interns has been compiling research and photographic documentation to help nominate Pontchartrain Park as a federal historic district on the National Register of Historic Places.
Last year, the Pontchartrain Park Neighborhood Association turned to the PRC for help in compiling the nomination. The National Register is a federal inventory of buildings, districts and sites noted for their significant contribution through architecture, culture and archaeology. Pontchartrain Park’s significance falls under the National Register’s criteria recognizing properties associated with important moments in American history.
Pontchartrain Park opened in 1955 as a planned suburban-style community designed to offer homeownership opportunities to African- American families during the period of racial segregation that effectively barred them from neighborhoods, schools and other public facilities. Built in the contemporary, ranch style of the time, each single-family residence sat on a spacious lot with off-street parking. The development was laid out around a public golf course, now named Joseph M. Bartholomew Municipal Golf Course, after the African- American landscape architect who designed it.
Photos by Davis Allen and Becky Gipson
Over the decades, Pontchartrain Park has been home to civil rights advocates, musicians and political leaders, including former Mayors Ernest “Dutch” Morial and his son, Marc Morial. Though the neighborhood was flooded in the levee failures after Hurricane Katrina, many of its original residents returned to rebuild their homes.
Unlike local historic districts, which are regulated by the Historic District Landmarks Commission, property owners in National Register historic districts do not need to seek permission to alter or demolish their houses. National Register status is largely honorific, though there are opportunities for grant and tax incentives and a procedure for the consideration of historic resources when facing federally funded works projects, a process called the Section 106 review.
Nominating the neighborhood for National Register Historic District status is a process that involves completing a comprehensive historic inventory of about 850 structures in the community. A substantial historic narrative also is required, and the nomination will need to be approved by the State Historic Preservation Office and the National Park Service.
The PRC is excited to continue working with residents and the Pontchartrain Park Neighborhood Association’s Historic Committee to promote this important community’s history.