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Here & Gone

I saw a house at 3215 Bienville just the other day. I noticed it because the doors were wide open and the moldering contents were lying in plain sight from the street. It was one of those houses that has sat untouched since the flood.



Now it’s gone. I noticed its absence this morning as I rode past on my bicycle, and it was a bit of a shock. And I wonder: How did this happen? I know it doesn’t take long to tear a small house down, but I’m wondering about the bureaucratic process. I live in a designated historic district; all demolitions have to go through a public review process. I get all the notices electronically and scan them to see if there’s anything in my neighborhood.

I’m not trying to suggest the owner did anything wrong here. Far from it. I logged onto VelocityHall and ascertained that a demolition permit was indeed obtained in early August. I’m just wondering why I didn’t see this coming.

Published inMiscellaneousPix


  1. I was wondering if any of the architectural details (windows, doors, etc…) were salvaged prior to demolition. It’s bad enough that a structure of which makes New Orleans so unique was torn down so quickly. But to have many of the elements that gave it so much of its character be wasted is truly a tragedy.

  2. This is all going faster than we can deal with it. I can show you some photos of “new Shotguns” the tiny vinyl windows and plastic details will never replicate what we have now. A friend of mine bought an ajudicated house, pre Katrina. It was in much worse shape than any of the houses I have seen recently. With 50K he has an amazing house, which still fits in the Neighborhood.

  3. Laureen Laureen

    ouch . . . this is the other shoe I have been waiting to fall. It’s a part-time job keeping up with the demolitions. Now we will be wondering what will be done on this space. We do have a salvage law in place but I’m sure it’s almost impossible to enforce with so much demolition happening. I can’t imagine being Elliott Perkins, Acting Exec. Dir. of the HDLC, right now.
    Nice job, B.

  4. zponge zponge

    I have been curious about the “salvaging” going on. I visited an architectural “trasures” store in Houston many years ago. I told my father about all the cool things that I saw there, thinking that he might be interested. He actually got pissed about it (not me, the store). As a native of St. Louis, and long time resident of the Soulard neighborhood (before it’s relatively recent rejeuvanation), he told me that he saw many buildings (including some historic) condemned by absentee LL for the purpose of demolition and salvaging of the architectural elements, so that they could be sold and shipped to new, rich cities like Houston. This was all happening back in the 60s, 70s, 80s, and has probably changed now. But I wonder how many folks in cities like Phoenix are on the market for an architectural “treasure” from Old New Orleans?

  5. Laureen Laureen

    Yeah, zponge, you’re so right. Our customers stretch as far as Hollwood, CA. and it’s been a problem for years and right now, it’s a very bad problem. I didnt’ want to go there . . . it makes me pretty upset. Absent LL, and their neglect an equal part of it. I try to say, well, these artworks live on in someone’s home who does appreciate them. I have been out scouting, rather intrusively, actually, in The Bank, a known violator of architectural looting, just watching. I am amazed how easily I can waltz my butt back to the dunk tanks with a camera and without hassle. It’s definitely something I examine regulalry. I am afraid we won’t feel the full impact of what we are losing for years.

  6. Lou C Lou C

    You know that wonderful old cypress wood smell you smell when you walk up the front porch of a old home? That’s what’s being lost. The new-old-look-alikes are nice but can’t duplicate that wonderful aged cypress smell that permiates every nook & cranny of the original.

  7. […] Thanks to Annette Sisco who saw these pictures here back in October and had the idea to feature them. In fact, at her suggestion, I revisited the lot earlier this month and shot the “after” picture again to more closely match the perspective of the “before” picture, and without the backhoe that was there in October. I think the piece is much stronger for it. […]

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