This story appeared in the November issue of PRC’s Preservation in Print magazine. Interested in getting more preservation stories like this delivered to your door nine times a year? Become a member of the PRC for a subscription!
The historic neighborhoods and architecture of New Orleans are more than just a collection of noteworthy buildings. They are the physical manifestation of the hopes and dreams, hard work and talent of generations of New Orleanians, whose lives have shaped this city over its 300 years. To recognize the people who are carrying that passion forward by protecting, restoring and supporting New Orleans’ most treasured places, the PRC proudly announces its 2020 Outstanding Civic and Preservation Achievement Awards.
Selected by the Preservation Resource Center’s Board of Directors, this year’s honorees include residents who are leaders in their communities; developers and architects who bring new life and economic development into historic structures; and a fifth-generation master craftsman whose family’s work has brought exquisite beauty to the city’s most historic buildings.
CIVIC LEADERSHIP AWARD
Barbara Lacen-Keller is a passionate community leader who has served as a voice for local residents for decades. She serves as the constituent engagement specialist in the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Economy, as well as chairwoman of the Dryades YMCA Board of Directors. Former New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial called her the “mayor of Central City,” for her longtime support and organizing efforts in the community. Prior to joining the City Council’s staff, Lacen-Keller worked in the Orleans Parish public school system and was the clinic administrator at the Central City Health Clinic. She also served as a staff member for City Councilwoman Stacey Head, and was featured in the 2013 documentary film “Getting Back to Abnormal,” about race and politics in New Orleans. A native of the Treme neighborhood, Lacen-Keller was the original organizer of the Social Aid and Pleasure Club Task Force, was chairwoman of the Central City Partnership, chairwoman of Café Reconcile, and serves as chairwoman of the Preservation Resource Center’s Multicultural Heritage Committee.
“Barbara’s dedication to our city and its preservation is seemingly boundless. She has been a dedicated public servant in her professional career but also in volunteering her time to PRC’s Ladies in Red event, the Neighborhood Council and, more recently, in leading the PRC’s Multicultural Heritage Committee and serving on our Board of Directors. We are so fortunate to have her expertise and leadership,” said Gordon McLeod, president of the PRC Board of Directors.
Photo by Liz Jurey.
ARCHITECTURAL CRAFTSMANSHIP AWARD
Jeff Poree Plastering LLC
For more than a century, the Poree family’s impeccable work has graced many of the city’s most historic spaces. Jeffrey M. Poree Sr. is a master plasterer whose skills and traditions can be traced back five generations in his family. As the owner of Jeff Poree Plastering, he leads a team known for its exceptional work in ornamental exterior and interior plaster, artistic molds and specialty finishes. With a 15,000-square-foot casting shop in the Seventh Ward, the company maintains a full-time art department that can restore historic molds by working from fragments, photographs or drawings. His staff includes a range of plaster experts, from experienced artisans to apprentices learning this historic craft. It’s no surprise that Poree is the plasterer of record for many of the region’s most important historic restoration projects, including The Historic New Orleans Collection’s Williams Research Center in the French Quarter and the Peristyle in City Park. One of his recent projects is the renovation of the historic Peltier-Rouse family home in Thibodaux. When asked by The Times-Picayune in 2017 to describe his work, Poree said simply, “We’re the maintenance men of local history.”
“Jeff and his team are able to restore the artistry, beauty and original details of unique plaster work, which is a gift for future generations to admire,” said Jeanne Harang Boughton, past president of the PRC Board of Directors. “While few people have developed the skills necessary to restore plaster, Jeff has embraced his vocation and generously shared his talent for the craft with the world.”
Photo by Liz Jurey.
NEIGHBORHOOD PRESERVATION AWARD
New Orleans’ newest listing on the National Register of Historic Places was made possible thanks to the leadership of the Pontchartrain Park Neighborhood Association. As president of the Pontchartrain Park Neighborhood Association since 2009, Gretchen Bradford led the charge to successfully nominate the neighborhood to the National Register. Working hand in hand with the Preservation Resource Center to survey every building in the community and complete the extensive nomination process, Pontchartrain Park Neighborhood Association’s Historical Committee — including Carrie Mingo Douglas, Wiletta Ferdinand, Gaynell Lawrence, Patrick Clementine, Wilfred Arnolie and Elder Delereze Perkins — received the news in June that their neighborhood’s history would be recognized on the nation’s official list of places “worthy of preservation for their historical significance.” With Bradford at the helm, the Pontchartrain Park Neighborhood Association has become a force in historic preservation and in Pontchartrain Park’s revitalization.
“We are so thankful to Gretchen Bradford for leading the charge in getting the Pontchartrain Park neighborhood the long overdue recognition it deserves with a formal listing on the National Register of Historic Places,” McLeod said.
ARCHITECTURAL PRESERVATION AWARD
The Sazerac House – The Goldring Family, The Sazerac Company and Trapolin-Peer Architects
From the outside, the Sazerac House at the corner of Canal and Magazine streets is a 19th-century gem, with the building’s Italianate details restored to their original grandeur. Step inside, and visitors are immersed in a state-of-the-art facility that elegantly blends historic architecture with multimedia exhibits celebrating New Orleans’ storied cocktail culture. Since the Sazerac House, at 101 Magazine St., opened to the public in October 2019, the building has served as an interactive cocktail experience and headquarters for the Sazerac Company, which is owned Bill Goldring and his family. Prior to being purchased and rehabilitated by the company, this prominent property had sat vacant for 30 years. To bring the structure back to life, the Sazerac Company engaged Trapolin-Peer Architects to redesign the building for its glamorous new purpose, while also ensuring its historic architectural beauty remained a focal point. “It’s hard to imagine what a cocktail might look like in architectural form,” project architect Shea Trahan told Preservation in Print in 2019, “but I hope somehow we’ve captured that essence.”
“The Goldring family has done a wonderful job restoring this Canal Street landmark,” said Marshall Hevron, past president of the PRC Board of Directors. “Generations of New Orleanians will enjoy the restored façade of this property, as well as great cocktails inside the building.”
Photo by Chris Granger
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Patricia H. Gay
For nearly four decades, Patricia H. Gay served as executive director of the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans. Her impassioned advocacy and leadership pushed the PRC into national prominence as one of the country’s premier historic preservation and urban conservancy organizations. After volunteering for the fledgling PRC when it was formed in 1974 and serving as president of its board in 1978, Gay became executive director in 1980. Under her direction, the PRC grew steadily, expanding its programs and services to reach every historic neighborhood in the city. Today, PRC manages numerous programs in communications, education, advocacy and outreach, in addition to its Revival Grants program that assists low-income homeowners in making critical repairs to their historic properties. None of this work would be possible without the strong foundation built by Patty Gay. “One of Patty’s key maxims has always been that preservation is vital economic development,” said Jack Davis, a former board member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation who served as PRC’s interim executive director after Gay’s retirement in 2018. “Her core message is that preservation helps keep intact the city that the world loves as New Orleans.”
“Patty Gay is synonymous with preservation in New Orleans,” McLeod said. “We owe her a debt of gratitude for the many generations of preservationists in New Orleans that she inspired to fight for their community. Without her decades of leadership in advocating for preservation as an economic tool, our city would undoubtedly not be what it is today.”