This story appeared in the June 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 Preservation Resource Center is proud to announce the publication of a new book: The Cottage on Tchoupitoulas: A Historical Geography of Uptown New Orleans, written by renowned Tulane University geographer Richard Campanella.
The book is a visually stunning and historically fascinating exploration of the development of the storied site bounded by Tchoupitoulas Street, State Street, Henry Clay Avenue and the Mississippi River and the Uptown New Orleans neighborhood surrounding it. It is available for sale through Children’s Hospital and at local bookstores.
Children’s Hospital New Orleans, Dr. Stephen Hales and his wife, architect and preservationist Nancy Hales, commissioned Campanella to write the history of the site, and the manuscript was edited, designed and published by the PRC.
Using his compelling storytelling style, Campanella details the area’s transformation through time, starting with the earliest chronicled mention of this Uptown site, in a French sailor’s journal dating to 1699; through French, Spanish and American control of the city; from its use as a plantation that first profitably granulated sugar in Louisiana; and through its later transformation into a medical complex.
Surrounded by a 120-year-old brick wall, the site has been used since 1883 for medical purposes, first by the U.S. government, then by the New Orleans Adolescent Hospital, and now by Children’s Hospital of New Orleans. The site features a number of historic buildings that are surrounded by lush grounds. The campus was beautifully laid out and landscaped in 1931 by famed landscape architect A.D. Taylor, who also designed the grounds of the Pentagon. Beautiful oaks planted from Taylor’s plans still shade winding paths across the site today.
Children’s Hospital acquired the site in 2013 and hired local architecture firm Eskew+Dumez+Ripple to create a master plan. Although the plan called for the demolition of five brick, two-story residential units that were built in the 1930s to make way for a modern parking garage, the rest of the historic buildings have been, or are being, carefully revitalized with preservation in mind.
The latest restoration is that of the building now called Hales Cottage, which is one of the oldest residential buildings Uptown; its original timbers date to the late 1700s. The cottage has been renovated beautifully, with careful research guiding every physical alteration in an effort to maintain original materials and layout. Nancy Hales and Dr. Hales’ personal commitments to the project led the hospital to name it Hales Cottage. It has been developed as a place of respite for patients and their families, as well as hospital staff and residents of the surrounding neighborhood; it features a coffee bar and spaces for gathering.
“I first saw the cottage almost 50 years ago; it was a dilapidated and neglected mess even then,” Dr. Hales said recently. “When Children’s Hospital finally acquired the Marine Hospital site, we promised to bring its buildings back to life. None of them needed more care, nor held more promise, than the cottage. It has been a joy and privilege for Nancy and me to work with Children’s Hospital and the superb architects and contractors who helped bring the cottage back to happy, useful life, a place to gather and a place of respite.”
The cottage will be open to the public as part of PRC’s Shotgun House Tour on June 11 and 12.
The PRC was proud to partner with Children’s Hospital to produce this book. The project was the brainchild of Dr. Hales, Nancy Hales and officials at Children’s Hospital. “This cottage has stood witness to so much history, and as its restoration was underway, we resolved to try to understand and document that history and find a way to share it,” Dr. Hales said. “Gathering that history complemented the physical restoration of this historic cottage. Not all of that history is happy; for many years, enslaved people labored here, and their story is essential to an understanding of the cottage’s history. Richard [Campanella]’s book is not just the story of the cottage; it is a history of the site, the city and the Uptown neighborhood in which it now resides.”
Asking Campanella to pen the manuscript was an obvious choice, Dr. Hales said. “We couldn’t imagine another choice. Richard has done more to help us understand and appreciate the history of our city than anyone else in recent memory. He is uniquely qualified for a project like this — equal parts historian, geographer, gifted writer and storyteller.”
The PRC’s talented communications staff took Campanella’s impressive manuscript and made it into a beautiful book that flows with show-stopping photography and beautiful design. PRC Communications Director Susan Langenhennig served as the book’s editor and oversaw the production process. Art Director Liz Jurey was the creative mind behind the book’s look, designing its layout. Photography was provided by beloved local photographer Chris Granger, with drone photography by the talented Charles E. Leche. The result is a fascinating work that you will absolutely need in your library!
Danielle Del Sol is the Executive Director of the Preservation Resource Center.
Signed copies of the book, The Cottage on Tchoupitoulas, published by the Preservation Resource Center in partnership with Children’s Hospital New Orleans, will be for sale at the Shotgun House Tour, presented by Entablature Design + Build and Entablature Realty.
Saturday & Sunday, June 11 & 12,
10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. each day
Audubon Riverside neighborhood