Thursday, October 12, 2006

Good Advice is Good Advice

I don't think anyone in New Orleans wants to take advice from people in Charleston, but reading some other blogs (and don't forget), brings to mind some advice that we heard a year ago.

From the executive director of the Historic Charleston Foundation:
But Patty brings us good news as well: most of the city's National Register historic districts still stand. Though damaged, much of the historic fabric of these centuries-old buildings survives and is salvageable. Salvageable, that is, at least from the storm. Now the even greater threat is: can it be saved from redevelopers' and clean-up crews' bulldozers?

Or from a member of the city's Board of Architectural Review:
"We decided that in the long run, the best thing to do was to do it right," he said.

And they did. They insisted that a metal roof be replaced by a metal roof, that a facade maintain its integrity and that nothing that could be fixed would be torn down.

"We have buildings all over town right now that owners wanted to tear down," Rosenblum said. "If you say 'no' enough, eventually somebody comes along and has a use for it and saves it.

"If the building has good bones, fix it. If you start ripping things down, you're gong to lose the city."

Losing the city is what Rosenblum fears for New Orleans. A graduate of Tulane University, he has a passion for the place and its architectural heritage.

"People need to know you can repair New Orleans," he said. "You can put it back. And when you plan it, you've got to do a good job. A good New Orleans job -- not a San Diego job or a St. Louis job.

"What we don't want is another city that looks like another city. We all want New Orleans to look like -- and be like -- New Orleans."

Of course, in addition to less damage, Charleston had one major advantage over New Orleans:
"I couldn't believe it, how helpful they were. You always hear horror stories. But in Charleston, the insurance companies came in and did what they were supposed to do: write checks."

Things changed between 1989 and 2005.

Even though it's a site about demolition by neglect rather than demolition by bulldozer, you can't discuss the subject without mentioning Squandered Heritage.

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