Please join us for a presentation and signing with authors Susan Lagnenhennig, John Pope, and Danielle Del Sol and photographer Chris Granger featuring their new book, BUILDING ON THE PAST: Saving Historic New Orleans, just published by the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans.
Don’t call it the city that care forgot. For more than a century, 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. This beautiful new book 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 building profiles, this 192-page book shares the stories of the people behind the places and their journeys to preserve the history as well as the bricks and mortar. Written by award-winning New Orleans journalists Danielle Del Sol, John Pope and Susan Langenhennig, each chapter explores the cutting-edge methods and tools that preservationists use today to make projects successful, including utilizing historic tax credits, façade easements and revolving funds and galvanizing the community. 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 the modest shotgun homes where some of New Orleans’ earliest jazz musicians perfected their sound; to a trio of pre-Civil War buildings that were blighted and barely standing before they were transformed into chic new apartments; to the multi-million-dollar effort to save the Saenger Theatre after it was flooded in Hurricane Katrina.
To underscore the urgency of this historic preservation work, the book also 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, who has profiled New Orleans’ most famous — and infamous — dearly departed.
Bringing it all to life is gorgeous architectural photography by award-winning photojournalist Chris Granger that is juxtaposed with historic images of buildings and streetscapes around the city. All 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.
Susan Langenhennig is editor of Preservation in Print, the monthly magazine of the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans, and the PRC’s communications director.
John Pope has been a reporter in New Orleans since 1973 and 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.
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