Our Work on the Gulf Coast

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck a devastating blow to New Orleans, a city of exceptional historic and cultural value.  This human tragedy risked being compounded by a cultural catastrophe.  The National Trust for Historic Preservation quickly mobilized and, with our local partners, coordinated nearly a thousand volunteers, technical assistance, and grants.  We knew that it was extremely important for us to be physically in New Orleans, which is why we established an immediate field presence. 

Our effort in New Orleans was paralleled by a similar response along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

All of this could only be done with the quick and generous contributions of major donors, an outpouring of smaller donations, and the work of hundreds of dedicated volunteers. 

Unfortunately, the economic reality of the current recession is forcing the National Trust for Historic Preservation to close our New Orleans Field Office in September 2009, but we will continue to remain committed to the long term recovery of the city and the preservation of its historic resources.  We will assist New Orleans through our field services from our Southern Office in Charleston, direct participation by our Legal Defense Fund, continuing investments by the National Trust Community Investment Corporation (NTCIC), services by the National Trust Main Street Center, and continuing priority across the National Trust.  Specifically, our litigation to assure compliance with environmental standards by FEMA and Veteran Affairs with regard to the historic Mid-City neighborhood will continue vigorously. 

We have every confidence that our preservation partners – the Preservation Resource Center, the Foundation for Historical Louisiana, the Louisiana Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Louisiana Division of Historic Preservation – are much stronger today than they were four years ago, and they will work with the National Trust in continuing to lead the city's preservation recovery efforts. 

Working with our partners and our onsite Trustees and Advisor, we have accomplished a great deal in the past four years.  Highlighted below are a few of those accomplishments.

  • Supporting the tremendous recovery in strength and effectiveness of the Preservation Resource Center and working hand-in-glove with them.
  • Helping nearly 1,000 homeowners with building assessments, remediation, and rehabilitation advice – provided often by an outpouring of qualified volunteers.
  • Conducting second assessments of historic homes listed for demolition by the city.
  • Playing a lead role in obtaining $17,800,000 in federal preservation grants for historic homes in New Orleans.
  • Creating HOME AGAIN! which has provided $1,000,000 in technical assistance and grants to help residents return to safe, healthy, rehabilitated homes, especially in the Holy Cross neighborhood of the Lower 9th Ward.
  • Through American Express and the National Trust Partners in Preservation Program, providing a $500,000 grant program to help rehabilitate five historic community anchors.
  • Providing $21,000,000 in gross equity from the National Trust Community Investment Corporation, including the Pontchartrain Hotel, now under construction, and the Maritime Building, scheduled to begin construction in September.
  • Providing technical assistance for six Main Street programs from the National Trust Main Street Center.
  • Providing the talents of a one-year Fellow, who helped shaped the financing program for commercial redevelopment along the OC Haley Boulevard, with nine projects to receive $1,800,000 in city-funded financing.
  • Undertaking broad based advocacy with the Foundation for Historical Louisiana to prevent the demolition or removal of 165 historic homes and other structures in the Mid-City neighborhood and to gain reuse of the landmark Charity Hospital.

Likewise in Mississippi, we worked with our partners, the Mississippi Heritage Trust and the Mississippi Department of Archives and History to save those important remaining historic places on Mississippi's Gulf Coast. Great progress is being made, currently, in special places like Beauvoir and the Charnley House.  We continue to support our partners, primarily from our Southern Office in Charleston.