Ca­bildo and Presbytère renovation

With the best of intentions, workers applied elastomeric coatings to the Ca­bildo around 1998 and the Presbytère in 2004. Around the same time, the Old Ursuline Convent in New Orleans and the Old State Capitol in Baton Rouge received similar applications. But what was first seen as a state-of-the-art technique soon turned out to be a preservationist’s nightmare. As it turns out, exterior masonry and stucco require a certain amount of moisture to main­tain their structural integrity; without it, the exterior cracks and crumble.

“Elastomeric coats are designed to exclude water from buildings, and in theory they don’t cause problems as long as all water is excluded from en­tering a building. But that is impossible to do,” said Cangelosi. “Water can come from rising damp, hairline cracks, movement, interior sources includ­ing condensations, failure of adhesion of the stucco and other sources. And once in the moisture is in, it cannot escape, as the coating is designed to prevent the transmission of moisture.”

Trapped behind the paint, this moisture has no place to go except through the building’s interior plaster walls. But before this was realized, damage had been done. The Old Louisiana State Capitol building was one of the earliest buildings in Louisiana to report damage after it was discovered that the elastomeric coatings had been the culprit behind decay caused by trapped moisture within the building walls.

“Historic buildings and their fabric must be able to breathe,” Cangelosi said. “History has shown that any product which prevents that will have an adverse effect.”

Elastomeric coatings did not go from panacea to poison overnight, of course. But by 2005, the Vieux Carré Commission (VCC) rejected the Ur­suline Convent’s request to repaint an elastomeric fence. Staff analysts con­cluded that such paints “are disastrously inappropriate for historic masonry walls and structures in all high humidity/high temperature climates and especially in sub-tropical and tropical climes like New Orleans.”

These words proved prophetic, and work to remove the elastomeric coat­ings on the Cabildo and the Presbytère began in 2014. By that point, the dam­age done to those buildings by the coatings was severe. “”I received a video early one morning from someone passing the Cabildo as parts of it literally were exploding off the building as the trapped moisture was trying to escape,” Cangelosi said. “Not only did it cause extensive damage to the building, but someone could have been seriously hurt.” Koch and Wilson Architects was selected to oversee the work of associated waterproofing at the Cabildo, and Jahncke & Burns Architects was chosen as the architect of record for the work of advanced waterproofing at the Presbytère. Associated Waterproofing is the contractor of work on the Cabildo, and Advance Waterproofing LLC served as general contractor for the Presbytère‘s first phase of work.

At first, the plan was to remove the coating from only the front façade of each building. As the work proceeded, however, it quickly became clear that not only would the other sides of the buildings need to be stripped, but that stucco and masonry underneath the elastomeric coatings had suffered extensive structural damage and would need repair.


Royal Mule Team

One of the trueisms about living in the Quarter ( and different from even the experiences of our “almost-residents” aka storekeepers or other business owners)  is the scads of information that one gets from popping out on the sidewalk dozens or more times  in one day, observing the activities or even while still back in your space, hearing them happen and perhaps noting the time in the back of your mind while you put laundry in the washer before any commerce is even beginning. Those activities include workers arriving at dawn and standing in front of your door soberly assessing current tip levels; delivery trucks huffing and puffing outside from 5:30 am on, pulling cases of items out (which ramps up especially in mid-week);  knowing the tour guides who do their work with respect and gusto and those who do not;  separating the good hustlers from the dangerous ones and much more. One other  is learning the names and company of the sanitation crews and the identification of who actually works versus those who just walk and swipe at the ground once in a  while. One of the good ones is Royal Carriages. In case you didn’t know, all of the carriage companies are supposed to take their turn in the Quarter, cleaning up after their mules; however most do not bother. The one company that is consistent and conscientious is Royal Carriages.

Recently, they had an open house at their stables in the Marigny where they invited the locals via social media to see what was up and offered some free food and drink and music. I went by and was impressed by the cleanliness and attention they paid to their space. So when I saw the cleaner out on the cart today and that he was stopped right in front of my door, I thanked him for his work and we had a short chat.  His name is Roger and he is proud of his company and told me that the mules there get 4 months off per year and the place is kept “spotlessly”clean. He was as cheery of a worker as the modern world has and I am glad to have him around and to have a name to assign to his face.

The workers and residents of the Quarter acknowledge each other’s dependency on the other. We share a pride in our place and a willingness to play the hosts to the city’s millions of visitors. Royal Mule Carriages illustrates that truth.


Interview with editor of N.O Lit: 200 years of New Orleans Literature

Listen to The Anthology of Louisiana Literature‘s 2-part interview with Dr. Nancy Dixon, editor of one of the necessary books for any New Orleans scholar or armchair historian: N.O. Lit: 200 Years of New Orleans Literature. Even if this brilliant woman wasn’t my pal, I’d still be urging you to get a copy. I open it up again and again to read her selections from different authors.

The 560 pages includes a well-curated set of short fiction and plays that reflect the city’s literary history, from Paul Louis LeBlanc de Villeneuve’s 18th-century play The Festival of the Young Corn, or The Heroism of Poucha-Houmma to Fatima Shaik’s 1987 short story “Climbing Monkey Hill.”

Dixon provides informative introductions to each author’s section, placing the works and their creators within the context of the city’s history and the history of its literature, making the anthology both an enjoyable artful artifact and an important academic resource.

Part 1

Part 2

Celebrate the birthday of the Baroness Pontalba

How funny- Maybe I should ask the Baroness a few questions since I am researching the commercial history of Jackson Square and of the Pontalbas. (And I wonder if the Grand Duchess will come back in town for this?)


At the Upper Pontalba Building, Jackson Square
THURSDAY, November 3th 5-7 p.m. 500 block of St. Peter Street
Meet the Baroness—Shop—Eat Cake—Enjoy Opera

A Celebration of the Life of Micaela Leonarda Antonia Almonester y Rojas, Baroness de Pontalba (Born: November 6, 1795, New Orleans, LA; Died: April 20, 1874, Paris, France). The Baroness Pontalba is the namesake of and responsible for the design, development, and construction of the Pontalba buildings on Jackson Square, the oldest continually rented apartment buildings in the United States. The Upper Pontalba Building is managed by the French Market Corporation and is part of the French Market District.

***Spend $25 in one of the participating Shops at the Upper Pontalba on Saint Peter Street and get a raffle ticket to win items from the Shops at the Upper Pontalba! You must be present to win. Raffles will be at 5:30 p.m., 6:15 p.m. and 6:45 p.m. **

Event Schedule:

Enjoy extended shop hours, retail specials, live opera, historical characters in costume, and a chance to meet Dr. Christina Vella, the author of the definitive biography of the Baroness Pontalba, “INTIMATE ENEMIES”
Signed Paperback copies of the book will be for sale at Muse at 532 St. Peter Street throughout the evening
5:00-7:00 p.m. Louisiana History Alive presents The Baroness Pontalba in person!
5:30 p.m. Raffle #1. Spend $25 in one of the participating Shops at the Upper Pontalba on Saint Peter Street and get a raffle ticket to win items from the Shops at the Upper Pontalba! You must be present to win.
6:15 p.m. Raffle #2!
5:45-6:30 p.m. New Orleans Opera Association performs from a balcony above the Shops at the Upper Pontalba
6:00-7:00 p.m. Book signing by Christina Vella, author of Intimate Enemies: The Two Worlds of Baroness de Pontalba
6:30 p.m. Happy Birthday, Baroness! Join us in singing Happy Birthday and sharing cake
6:45 p.m. Raffle #3! Spend $25 in one of the participating Shops at the Upper Pontalba on Saint Peter Street and get a raffle ticket to win items from the Shops at the Upper Pontalba! You must be present to win.

1873 description of Andrew Jackson Statue


Putting this here partly because of the Take Em Down movement is purported to be focusing on the Jackson Statue. As wildly supportive as I am about the others being removed from public display, I am not in favor of the removal of this statue but the hoopla around it is likely very helpful to the movement and I appreciate that as a tactic.

All of those others that City Council voted to be removed pretend to “honor” those who rose up in arms against the elected government of the US in order to continue the enslavement of many but the truth is they were put up in the years of white supremacy as defiance and in order to warp the real history. As a way to illustrate that, I ask you to tell me where else in our country have those who led a failed insurrection against the elected government been enshrined in public and done decades after their time? Or, as I have said elsewhere, if you want statues of the true historical context, then add Grant over Lee, Abraham Lincoln over Davis, and Sherman astride Beauregard’s horse and tell the ACTUAL history of the war, including the continued institutional racism that subjugates many.

This statue  was erected in thanks to a military man who fought the British on our soil and later became a US President and therefore should remain, although I agree that details of his murderous and shameful campaign against native Americans needs to be added to the base of the statue. That update would honor true history and teach future generations of his complicated Presidency.

In this excerpt from 1873, one can see how history has always been subjective based on the personal opinions and political stance of those writing it. Check out the dig against the added plaque put there by General Butler and the disagreement over the accuracy of the statue itself.

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CW Cannon says it well too.


DeBerry does too

($5 per day) Satchmo Fest-Friday schedule

Satchmo SummerFest is a three-day local music showcase located within one block of the historic French Quarter: two stages and food booths are located in Jackson Square; a third stage and children’s area is located in the Louisiana State Museum’s Arsenal; the Satchmo Symposium takes place in Le Petit Theatre. Satchmo SummerFest features local music with a focus on contemporary and traditional jazz and brass bands. The community festival also features the ‘Red Bean Alley,’ festival food booths operated by some of New Orleans finest restaurants, open throughout the festival weekend.

What is the cost to attend Satchmo SummerFest?
Daily admission is $5 (children 12 and under are free). Wristbands will be provided at the gates to allow festival-goers the option of coming and going throughout each day.

$5 Satchmo Fest schedule

Cornet Restaurant Red Beans and Ricely Yours