There is always renovation in the Quarter, but Mary’s Ace Hardware on Rampart says that right now it’s the bar owners, restauranteurs, and homeowners who outnumber the usual contractors coming in to their well-stocked, 2-story establishment.
The few contractors who are coming in to the Quarter tell me that their stress level is lower than usual, thanks to fewer people and sparse traffic.
For example, the guys replacing the old rusted gallery posts for new ones at the hotel on Saint Ann pulled right up on Saturday morning, puzzled out their strategy without having to stop every few minutes to let pedestrians or cars pass which meant the majority of the tricky and heavy work was done toot sweet. And even though clearly exhausted, the guys were more relaxed than usual at the end of their long day.
Some of these projects began long before the shut down, some will be happening even when the festivals return, but all of these workers and owners are using the time and space this shutdown has provided.
worker trucks out number out of state plates
This project may not be permanent; i don’t see any language on their visible permits that allowed these boxes to be built where there had been a window or door recess. (the hotel has had a lot of trouble with street folks sleeping here for the last few years so I assume that was why it was done.)
Upper Pontalba begins some repairs on their fascia
This guy has been working on this front steadily since the shutdown.
Dauphine post work across from Matassa’s Market.
The ongoing saga of the Saint Ann ditch
soapy saint ann
Bourbon Postal building gets some work done while the schoolyard is available.
The brilliant geographer/author Rich Campanella has shed so much light on many facets of New Orleans physical space that it is hard to separate what we knew before he began to teach us about our place and what we now know. Search his name on this blog and find the many pieces that have inspired me.
His latest in The Advocate on the ironwork that has become a signature of the city separates fiction (mythology may be more apt) from fact and is a good example of his gently musing writing style that is eminently approachable and therefore useful to a wide number of people.
I have begun to photograph and map the different ironwork designs around the Quarter, relying on his map from my favorite book of his, “Geographies of New Orleans” which has maps galore of structure styles, ethnographic clusters and much more.
One of those maps is recreated in The Advocate piece, a “heat map” of the many styles of ironwork found in the old quarter.
I’d like to ask him if he thinks this house was Pontalba’s home during the construction of the Jackson Square apartments and if that is why the same signature ironwork can be found on it.
“Why is New Orleans alone among American cities in its association with iron-lace galleries? To be sure, other 19th-century coastal and river cities also expressed their wealth through ornamental iron, oftentimes flamboyantly. Examples may be found in Charleston, Savannah, Mobile, Baton Rouge, Natchez, Vicksburg, St. Louis, Natchitoches and Galveston, among others.
But New Orleans is the only American city where iron-lace galleries dominate entire streetscapes. At play are a number of variables. This city has long had an outdoor culture, not to mention a spectacle culture, and both are abetted by galleries and balconies, especially in a climate of hot summers and balmy winters.
The city’s Franco-Hispanic Afro-Caribbean heritage imparted it with a legacy of ironworking and ironworkers. Starting in the late 1700s, its many multistory brick edifices were structurally conducive to balcony and gallery installation, particularly in high-density urban environments.
Port activity made imports of pig iron cheap and available, and an abundance of local furnaces were in place to convert the metal into finished railings.”
Find my photographs using the ironwork search function on this blog.
A portrait of Elizebeth Werlein by artist Maddie Stratton of Where Y’Art, as commissioned by NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune for its “300 for 300” celebration of New Orleans’ tricentennial. (NOLA.com)
“What I do for the Vieux Carre is prompted solely by my interest in saving this living museum by any means in my power.” — Elizebeth T. Werlein, in a 1943 letter to the editor of The Times-Picayune
- She was born in 1883 in Bay City, Michigan, the daughter of Henry Thomas and Marie Louise Felton Smith Thomas.
- Her father was a dynamite manufacturer.
- She was an accomplished soprano, having studied voice in Paris under famed Polish tenor Jean de Reszke.
- She loved adventure and was said to have been one of the first women to ride in a hot-air balloon, as well as one of the first women to ride in an airplane. She also took several big-game hunting trips in Africa. In 1917, she became chairwoman of a committee to establish airplane landing fields in Louisiana.
- From 1924 to 1930, she worked as the head of public relations for the Saenger company, the multi-state movie theater chain headquartered in New Orleans.
- She would go on to become head of the Louisiana Women’s Suffrage Party and the first president of the Louisiana League of Women Voters.
- Around 1916, she wrote and published a booklet titled “Wrought Iron Railings of the Le Vieux Carre in New Orleans.” She would later help found the Quartier Club, a group of women united in a desire to preserve the French Quarter.
- She pushed for the Legislature to grant regulatory power to the group that would become the Vieux Carre Commission and was a founder of the neighborhood watchdog group Vieux Carre Property Owners Association.
Other items about Werlein:
Mayor Robert A. Maestri called her the “mayor to the French Quarter.”
In 1938, when she became dissatisfied with what she considered to be the VCC’s indifference, Werlein became the founding president of a neighborhood watchdog group called the Vieux Carré Property Owners Association, now known as VCPORA. In that role she convinced Mayor Robert Maestri to strengthen VCC regulations and increase police enforcement of quality-of-life issues. According to fellow preservationist Martha Gilmore Robinson, Werlein “virtually policed the Quarter—urging property owners to restore their buildings, persuading others to remove trash and litter and inspiring many creative and influential people with her drive and spirit.”⁹
For all her successes she did encounter failure, “Werlein — and consequently the city — lost several skirmishes against businessmen whose encroachment caused gerrymandering of the French Quarter to exclude their project from the Vieux Carre Commission controls.” There were numerous demolitions in this vicinity before litigation took place declaring these exclusions unconstitutional.
Werlein’s front door today:
Elizabeth’s daughter was also impressive:
Carter, Betty Werlein