Important history from writer Eve Abrams on preservation and home, race and privilege as we celebrate the 200 year anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans:
About 30 families lived in Fazendeville, and all, like the Cagers, went back generations—perhaps to its beginning around 1870, when Jean Pierre Fazende, a free man of color, New Orleans grocer, and opera lover began subdividing the slim tract of land he’d inherited from his father—also named Jean Pierre Fazende—and selling off parcels to recently freed slaves.
In the mid 1800s, local citizens organized to erect a monument in honor of their ancestors’ sacrifice and Andrew Jackson’s victory. Dwindling funds and the Civil War stalled construction, but by the 1890s, the Louisiana Society of the United States Daughters of 1776 and 1812 passionately took up the cause.
The National Park Service had powerful allies. Among them was the Chalmette Chapter of the U.S. Daughters of 1812, headed by Mrs. Edwin X. de Verges, as well as her dear friend Martha Robinson, New Orleans’ grand dame of preservation, who headed the Louisiana Landmarks Society. –
…Wielding influence and tenacity, she (Robinson) convinced both the railroad and the previously intractable Kaiser Aluminum to donate valuable acreage. Protecting a chapter of history was clearly at the forefront of Robinson’s agenda, yet dispossessing a community was the next, necessary step. “Rather than get tangled up with Martha Robinson,” write Abbye A. Gorin and Wilbur E. Meneray, “politicians considered an alternate course.” Several of these politicians—Congressman F. Edward Hebert, Senators Russell B. Long and Allen J. Ellender—took up Robinson’s cause. They introduced legislation in Congress to purchase land for the park in time for the Battle’s 150th anniversary. The resolution passed, and President Kennedy signed it into law just months before he was assassinated.
“The government did eminent domain on us in 1964,” explains Valerie Lindsey Schxnayder, whose father was the last to leave Fazendeville. He moved his entire home —by trailer—to Reynes Street in the Lower Ninth Ward, where it was flooded the following year in Hurricane Betsy, and swept down the block in Katrina. In the mid-1960s, the market price for a new home in St. Bernard was around $16,000; residents of Fazendeville received around $6,000 per home. With Lindsey and the other citizens of Fazendeville gone, The Village was wiped away.