From, by Monica Hernandez / Eyewitness News, June 26, 2011

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NEW ORLEANS—When you drive through the historic Holy Cross neighborhood in the Lower Ninth Ward, you can’t help but notice the blighted homes and overgrown lots. But neighbors believe that’s beginning to change.

“Sometimes you have a vision, I can see this vision, I can see this neighborhood,” said Nanci McVille, who, late last year, decided to buy a Holy Cross home that had been on the market for years.

“It’s totally a hidden gem,” said McVille. “I can’t even believe it. In five minutes, I’m in the French Quarter. In 15 minutes, I’m anywhere I need to be.”

Sandwiched between blighted homes and an empty lot, McVille showed Eyewitness News a picture of the home after Hurricane Katrina, when a pecan tree split the roof in half.

Spray painted on the home’s front corner were the words, “4 sale as is.”

But after it was scooped up by the Preservation Resource Center’s Operation Comeback, it was estored to it’s full glory. And now, McVille owns a piece of history.

“I think it’s just going to come back to being the great neighborhood that it was at one time, little by little,” said McVille.

McVille’s is one of two dozen homes the PRC has bought in an effort to revitalize the area. Some are refurbished and for sale; others are still works in progress.

“This neighborhood has survived every single storm,” said Patricia Gay, executive director of the PRC.

Gay hopes the effort to refurbish blighted homes will help breath new life into a neighborhood still rebounding from Katrina. Gay added the PRC is willing to help others refurbish their homes.

“Some of these houses that we have done, we do some houses that nobody else would do,” said Gay. “And that means, we come in and put all new electric and plumbing. And so you have the advantages of both worlds, the historic fabric and materials, as well as new.”

And while the Lower Ninth Ward still has a long way to go, people like McVille have a vision, and they’re working to make it a reality.

“There are quite a few people like me,” said McVille. “I think that’s what it takes. More people coming into the neighborhood, investing in the neighborhood, and just watching it happen and making it happen.”

If you’d like to know more about Operation Comeback, log onto


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The Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans (PRC) was founded in 1974 as a non-profit organization to promote the preservation, restoration and revitalization of New Orleans’ historic architecture and neighborhoods. The organization has helped renovate nearly 1,400 homes citywide by involving citizens in preservation projects and services that enhance living in New Orleans. PRC provides resources and education to convey the economic, cultural and aesthetic importance of historic preservation in New Orleans and throughout the world. For more information about the PRC’s hurricane recovery efforts, including the homeowner assistance program, call 504.581.7032 or visit