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||Name redacted at the request of the author
|St. Francis Cabrini Church
||As a 1977 graduate of Holy Cross School and a former resident of the 9th Ward, I was heartsick when the decision was made to abandon Holy Cross' historic campus on Dauphine Street. One of the things that made Holy Cross so special was its neighborhood and the school's daily commitment to it. Katrina, unfortunately, made that commitment untenable.
For many weeks, I was conflicted about whether I could continue to support Holy Cross, which is an institution I love like no other. But my faith in the school and its leaders was renewed by the decision to relocate to another battered neighborhood within the city limits, another neighborhood in need of the commitment to civic improvement and social justice that Holy Cross had brought for so many years to the Lower 9th Ward.
At heart, I am a preservationist. I enjoy architecture and the built landscape. The work of the Vieux Carre Commission and the Historic District Landmarks Commission has made New Orleans a wounderfully human city. This church is mainly a landmark because of a paucity of modernist buildings in New Orleans. It's not a bad building, but a landmark worth stopping Gentilly and Holy Cross' comebacks dead in their tracks?
Stephen Verderber and the church's supporters like to say, meet us halfway, keep the church and build the school. Who will pay for this restoration of a building that was clearly deteriorating before Katrina hit? Who will pay to maintain it once it is renovated? Will Mr. Verderber? Will those who cry most loudly for its preservation? Do they expect Holy Cross to foot the bill or the Catholics in Gentilly who are struggling mightily with their own burdens?
It's more than buildings that make New Orleans special. People, connections, family--yes, the folks at Holy Cross like to use that word an awful lot--they're important too. So as a preservationist, I hope the agency will opt for preserving New Orleans through preserving a New Orleans institution--Holy Cross School. It's graduates, students and staff will be vital in the trying years to come.
Thank you for your consideration.