Don’t call it the city that care forgot. Passionate residents of New Orleans have come up with innovative ways to rescue, restore and preserve the historic architecture that creates this city’s singular sense of place. Published by the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans, Building on the Past: Saving Historic New Orleans chronicles modern efforts to save the soul of a 300-year-old city and ensure its bright future honors its rich past.
Told through a series of inspiring building profiles and gripping narratives, this book shares the stories of the people behind the places and their journeys to preserve the history as well as the bricks and mortar. Each chapter explores the methods and tools that preservationists use today to make projects successful, including historic tax credits, preservation easements and grassroots community efforts. Lessons learned from these often-complex restoration projects can serve as role models for preservation efforts across the nation.
The buildings profiled here run the gamut, from modest shotgun homes where some of New Orleans’ earliest jazz musicians lived, to a trio of pre-Civil War buildings that were blighted and barely standing before they were transformed into chic new apartments, to the $51 million restoration of the Saenger Theatre after Hurricane Katrina.
To underscore the urgency of historic preservation, the book includes a chapter on important buildings that were not saved from the wrecking ball. These obituaries of lost buildings were written by John Pope, one of the most celebrated obituary writers in the United States.
Bringing it all to life is gorgeous architectural photography by award-winning photojournalist Chris Granger. Together, these photos and stories show how the act of restoring a building can transform a neighborhood and usher a historic city into the future.
About the Author
Susan Langenhennig is the editor of Preservation in Print, the monthly magazine of the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans, and the PRC’s communications director. John Pope, who has been a reporter in New Orleans since 1973, was a member of The Times-Picayune team that won two Pulitzer Prizes for coverage of Hurricane Katrina. Danielle Del Sol has been executive director of the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans since 2018. Prior to that, she was editor of Preservation in Print. An award-winning photojournalist, Chris Granger is a staff photographer for The Times-Picayune|New Orleans Advocate.
"This colorful and insightful book shows how passionate New Orleans preservationists have worked miracles in saving what makes our city vibrant and beautiful. It took persistence and vision and a little bit of craziness, but they have repeatedly succeeded. The force behind the movement is the Preservation Resource Center, and this book shows how the group has positioned New Orleans for the future by revitalizing its past." - Walter Isaacson
"both a history of the heroes who saved New Orleans from capitalism's worst impulses and a gorgeous piece of real estate porn." - Michael Lewis
"Despite all evidence to the contrary, great buildings are living entities. They beguile and surprise, and make us feel safe. When they're gone, we miss them like people we should have treated better when we had the chance. this beautiful book. Then, if you can, call your mother!" - Gwen Tompkins