Help Save New Orleans’ Charity Hospital and the Adjacent Mid-City Historic Neighborhood

Voice your concerns now to change a potentially disastrous course — one that would leave a major New Orleans landmark to an uncertain fate and destroy at least 15 square blocks of a historic neighborhood.

The plans for LSU's new academic medical center and the new VA medical center call for the needless demolition of over 165 historic homes (at least 15 square blocks) within the lower Mid-City National Register District. Bulldozing this historic neighborhood would not only betray the residents of New Orleans, who are working so hard to rebuild their communities, but could easily be avoided. The rehabilitation of iconic Charity Hospital, and a nearby alternative site for the VA, would avoid the demolition of even a single historic property.

Please act now to prevent the needless destruction of historic and cultural resources triggered by ill-advised and short-sighted planning. 

Background

The Art Deco Charity Hospital building (known today as the Rev. Avery C. Alexander Charity Hospital) opened in 1939, and served the citizens of New Orleans until its closure by the Louisiana State University (LSU) Medical System in the days after Hurricane Katrina more than three years ago.

In May, the National Trust for Historic Preservation placed Charity Hospital and the adjacent neighborhood on its 2008 List of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. The danger to these resources is as grave as ever.

In July, neighborhood residents and the National Trust identified a viable alternative to the VA's preferred site — one which contains no historic structures, ample acreage, and would not require forcibly relocating any residents from their homes. Named for the shuttered hospital on the property, it is known as the Lindy Boggs site.

In August, the Foundation for Historical Louisiana released the findings of RMJM Hillier, a renowned architectural firm with credentials in healthcare design and preservation, which pronounced the Avery Alexander Charity Hospital building structurally sound and eminently suitable for renovation into a first rate, state-of-the-art medical and teaching facility.


Current Status

Despite the facts of the RMJM Hillier report and the identification of the Lindy Boggs site as a viable alternative, the State and the City of New Orleans continue to insist that the vision for 21st century health care can only be realized with 100 percent new construction at sites that necessitate the demolition of 165 contributing buildings (at least 15 square blocks) in a historic neighborhood.

VA officials acknowledge the advantages of the alternative Lindy Boggs site (including much faster return of health care services to veterans, and avoiding harm to historic properties). However, the City and State remain steadfast in their commitment to the site in Mid-City, insisting that the two medical facilities must be side-by-side.


What You Can Do

To support the re-use of the Charity Hospital Building and protect the adjacent Mid-City historic neighborhood, please contact the following decision-makers today:

  1. E-mail Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal or call his office toll-free at 866-366-1121.
  2. E-mail Louisiana Secretary of Health and Hospitals Alan Levine or call his office at 225-342-9500.  

Talking Points

General Talking Points:

  • The historic Mid-City neighborhood adjacent to the Central Business District should be saved and revitalized to provide housing and services to support the medical and biosciences industries.
  • Historic resources are assets for redevelopment and not obstacles.
  • Residents, responding to Mayor Nagin's call to come home after Katrina, repaired their homes and businesses — only to discover that the City now proposes to seize and demolish their property.
  • The demolition of 165 historic homes — 15 square blocks of a residential historic district — is unacceptable, and can easily be avoided by rehabilitating Charity Hospital and selecting the Lindy Boggs site for the VA.

Additional Talking Points for the State of Louisiana:

  • The fastest and least expensive way to restore the state's healthcare and teaching hospital is to rehabilitate and reuse the iconic Charity Hospital building.
  • The Charity Hospital building has been shown to be structurally sound and adaptable to housing a full-service 21st century medical facility.

Additional Talking Points for the VA:

  • The fastest and least destructive way to bring health care to New Orleans' area veterans is by selecting the Lindy Boggs site.