Saenger Theatre, Lakefront Airport, Marigny firehouse among 15 properties to receive historic preservation awards

by Kadee Krieger
The Times-Picayune

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The Saenger and Civic theaters, a firehouse in Faubourg Marigny and the Rosa F. Keller Library & Community Center in Broadmoor are among 15 projects that the Louisiana Landmarks Society is saluting in its first Awards for Excellence in Historic Preservation. The award-winning projects illustrate that the best way to preserve a historic building is to keep it in use, said Louisiana Landmarks Society Executive Director Walter Gallas.

"I love seeing historic places go back into use, such as the Civic Theater, which had 30 years in mothballs, and the Faubourg firehouse, which is now even a community center," he said. "These and all of our honorees are really making a difference in our community."

Architect Steven Dumez and his firm, Eskew+Dumez+Ripple, worked on two of the honored projects: the Civic Theater downtown and the Rosa F. Keller Library and Community Center in the Broadmoor neighborhood.

"The Civic Theater had lived in people's imagination for a long time, and it's wonderful to be able to have people revisit this building. It is one of those projects that clearly had soul," Dumez said.

With the Rosa F. Keller building, there's great pride, Dumez said, in bringing back a piece of the community that was so significantly damaged after Hurricane Katrina. "As we go back and visit it now and bring our children there, it is clear that it's very vital to the neighborhood."

The awards honor projects completed in 2012 or 2013 in Orleans Parish, but outside of the French Quarter, and that represent outstanding examples of restoration or rehabilitation of historic buildings or new construction in a historic district.

The awards will be presented at a reception fundraiser on April 9 at one of the award-winning sites: the terminal building at the New Orleans Lakefront Airport.

The awards will be presented at a reception fundraiser on April 9 at the New Orleans Lakefront Airport terminal building.

The Louisiana Landmarks Society, founded in the 1950s, operates the historic Pitot House on Bayou St. John. Constructed in 1799, the Pitot House was owned by Edgar Degas' great-grandmother and also was the home of James Pitot, New Orleans' first American mayor after the Louisiana Purchase. The house was saved from destruction by the Louisiana Landmarks Society in the 1960s, and the awards mark 50 years since that project.

The 2014 Louisiana Landmarks Society Awards for Excellence in Historic Preservation winners are:

  • Belleville Assisted Living Facility -- Rehabilitation and new construction by Woodward Design Group and St. Luke's Living Center. This project turned the former Belleville Elementary School in Algiers Point into an assisted living facility.
  • Bywater Art Lofts -- Restoration by HRI Properties, HCI Architecture LLC, Woodward Design + Build, Rick Fifield Architect and Louisiana Housing Corp./Office of Community Development. The site of the blighted former J.H. Rex Rutter garment factory is now the 37-unit Bywater Arts Loft I. The 30-unit Bywater Art Lofts II is across the street.
  • Civic Theatre -- Restoration by Eskew+Dumez+Ripple, Gibbs Construction Co., Solomon Group, Harmon Engineering LLC, Mazetti, Aon Fire Protection Engineering. The project restored the original 1906 Beaux Arts interior of the 800-seat theatre and added contemporary design.
  • Community Greens at Washington and Broad -- Rehabilitation by Green Coast Enterprises. Four blighted and abandoned buildings were put back into commerce as a community health clinic and retail space.
  • 1914-16 Elysian Fields -- Restoration by Kevin Joyce and Rich Sacher. The project renovated a formerly abandoned 3,000-square-foot double.
  • 1800 Esplanade Avenue -- Restoration by Robert Armstrong. This project restored the historic Charles H. Crowley house from an apartment building to an Eastlake style single-family residence.
  • 800 Magazine Street-- Rehabilitation/restoration by KCT Magazine LLC, Trapolin-Peer Architects and Landis Construction. A former livery building was developed into nine apartments and retail uses, including Octavia Gallery and Peche Restaurant.
  • 511 Marigny -- Rehabilitation by Studio WTA and 511 Marigny LLC. A three-story former hosiery factory was converted into 47 modern lofts.
  • The Old Firehouse-- Restoration by Glen Pitre and Michelle Benoit. A former derelict firehouse in the Faubourg Marigny was converted into studios, offices and spaces for artists.
  • Renewal Homes -- Rehabilitation by Redmellon. This project features 47 units of single-family and two-family homes in the Central City and Hollygrove neighborhoods.
  • Rice Mill Lofts -- Rehabilitation by studioWTA and National Rice Mill LLC. A former derelict, five-story masonry warehouse was converted into 20,000 square feet of commercial space and 60 residential lofts and townhouses.
  • Rosa F. Keller Library & Community Center -- Restoration/rehabilitation and new construction by Eskew+Dumez+Ripple, Spackman, Mossop + Michaels, Kulkarni Consultants, Lucien T. Vivien & Associates, Professional Services Industries Inc. and Ryan Gootee General Contractors. A 1917 residence was restored and converted into a neighborhood community center, with a new library wing.
  • The Saenger Theatre-- Restoration by the city of New Orleans, Canal Street Development Organization, Martinez+Johnson Architecture PC, ACE Theatrical Group LLC, EHT Traceries, Schuler Shook, EverGreen Architectural Arts. The historic 1927 theater, which flooded in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, was completely restored.
  • Terminal Building at New Orleans Lakefront Airport -- Restoration by Richard C. Lambert Consultants Inc. The 1934 Art Deco airport terminal building had been encased in a white stucco box since the 1960s and flooded during Hurricane Katrina. The project restored the building to its original design.
  • Turn Services Administrative and Operations Complex-- Rehabilitation by WDG | Architects Engineers, Associated Terminals/Turn Services and Donahue Favret contractors. Used at various times as an alms house, a Civil War hospital and as a molasses and syrup company, the facility was restored and now houses regulatory compliance offices, sales and executive offices, space for tug boat monitoring and dispatch, and the gathering of tug crew supplies.
Elena Walker