2008 Partners in Preservation: New Orleans
In April 2008, American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation announced that nine New Orleans historic sites had been selected to participate in the New Orleans Partners in Preservation program as part of American Express’ $400,000 commitment to preservation efforts in New Orleans.
The American Express Partners in Preservation program in New Orleans was created to help preserve historic sites that reflect the city’s rich cultural history, driving tourism and stimulating economic development. Additionally, American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation developed the slate of nine sites in an effort to raise awareness of some of the region’s most important, but often not widely recognized “hidden gems.
American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation used specific criteria to select five grant recipients including their historic, architectural and cultural significance, demonstrated community support for the sites, role as community gathering spaces, damage from Hurricane Katrina, and the ability to complete a preservation project within one year. The grant monies designated for each of the five sites were based on the specific needs and projects at the chosen sites.
Lafayette Cemetery No. 1
1400 Block of Washington Avenue
Designated a burial site in 1833, Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 in New Orleans’ Garden District is an active cemetery, tourist attraction, neighborhood recreation center and community gathering place. Truly an outdoor museum of 19th and 20th century funerary architecture, the cemetery’s walls and vaults had badly deteriorated, posing long-term threats to the site’s structural stability. The Partners in Preservation grant allowed Save Our Cemeteries, a non-profit group, to complete the third phase of restoration at the cemetery.
(Garden District; designated city burial site 1833)
Odyssey House Louisiana
1124 Tonti Street
Odyssey House Louisiana, a nonprofit behavioral healthcare facility, occupies two connected buildings bequeathed in 1866 by New Orleans’ first African American philanthropist. The facility is currently active but hurricane-damaged windows, break-ins, and old age contribute to its disrepair. In addition to the critical health services administered at Odyssey House since 1973, the building signifies the role played by free people of color in the Faubourg Treme area. (Esplanade Ridge; bequeathed 1866)
St. Alphonsus Art & Cultural Center
2025 Constance Street
St. Alphonsus Church, a National Historic Landmark, was constructed in 1855 by Catholic Redemptorists. An architectural jewel in the Lower Garden District neighborhood, the church operates as an arts and cultural center, and offers tours, concerts, art exhibitions, receptions, and children’s programs. The building’s 1891 front portico stood in great disrepair; restoration of flooring, roofing, wall treatment and the portico have helped St. Alphonsus maintain its place at the center of its community. (Lower Garden District; church constructed 1855, portico added 1891)
St. Augustine Parish Hall
1210 Governor Nicholls Street
The St. Augustine church and parish hall (built 1841-1869), are located in the historic Treme district. As the second oldest African American parish, St. Augustine is a significant part of the city’s African American heritage. Currently a community gathering site, the church supports a multitude of services and programs for the local community. Thanks to the Partners in Preservation grant, work has been completed on the shingle roof and rotten and termite-damaged wood on the gallery. (Treme; church constructed 1841, parish hall constructed 1869)
St. James A.M.E. Church
222 N. Roman Street
St. James A.M.E. Church, located in the Mid-City National Register Historic District, has been a place of worship for 160 years. Rendered unusable by the floodwaters that followed Hurricane Katrina, the sanctuary was closed for almost 3 years and services held in an auxiliary building so that repairs to the floors, altar and pews could be made. Services have since returned to the church itself. St. James is still in the process of rebuilding its programming, which includes ministry to a large contingent of homeless persons in the immediate area; support for the Albert Wicker Elementary School; and church services for the local community. (Mid-City National Register District; Original construction 1848-1851; renovation 1903)