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FEMA Section 106 Notices for Louisiana
Comment on "Public Notice Regarding Section 106 Review of Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) and the Louisiana Dept. of Education, through its Recovery School District (RSD) implementation of the School facilities Master Plan in Orleans Parish–Seeking Public Comment"
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Name: Keli Rylance
City: New Orleans, LA
Specific
property
affected:
Landbanking and Razing
Comments: OPSB's recent adoption of Resolution 46-08, the School Facility Master Plan for Orleans Parish, will have a detrimental impact on New Orleans neighborhoods and communities, and effectively eradicate historically significant public schools from the urban matrix.

Landbanking and demolition, the replacement of the old with the new, are not the ultimate means of achieving better public education. Both present problems for modest and less advantaged neighborhoods by creating potential sites for vagrancy, vandalism, and other criminal activities.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation and local neighborhood organizations have advocated for the continued use of older historic schools conceived of as "anchors" for communities. Rather than landbanking and eradicating, the OPSB should sustain and maintain.
In particular, the following mid-century modern neighborhood schools should either be renovated to function as twenty-first century schools or be adapted for reuse:

Phillis Wheatley Elementary School, 1955
2300 Dumaine Street, New Orleans, Louisiana
Charles R. Colbert, architect
Progressive Architecture citation

Thomy Lafon Elementary School, 1954
2601 Seventh Street, New Orleans, Louisiana
Curtis and Davis, architects
AIA Honor Award

George Washington Carver Junior - Senior High School, 1958
3059 Higgins Boulevard, New Orleans, Louisiana
Curtis and Davis, architects
Progressive Architecture First Design Award

McDonogh No. 39 / Avery Alexander Elementary School, 1952
5800 St. Roch Avenue, New Orleans, Louisiana
Goldstein, Parham and Labouisse; Freret and Wolf; Curtis and Davis, architects
First modern public school in New Orleans

As award-winning New Orleans architect Charles Colbert once expressed, "I believe that architecture has a part to play in education and, in effect, environment does educate. . . architecture must teach an understanding, an appreciation, and value of things--things, because they are the results of human efforts."

Rather than demolishing even more buildings in this city and contributing to a devaluation of past achievements, the OPSB should utilize its resources to sustain existing structures, which could thereby become exemplars of socially responsible educational design. Renovated schools, rich in history and cultural memories, could become teachable enterprises themselves.

Keli Rylance, Head, Southeastern Architectural Archive