September 22, 2008
National Trust Reports on Storm Damage to Historic Sites, Warns of Continuing Danger to Landmarks in New Orleans
By Debbie Ann Doyle
The National Trust for Historic Preservation has posted reports on the impact of Hurricanes Ike and Gustav on historic buildings in the affected areas, including several National Trust properties. On September 17, representatives of the Galveston Historical Foundation received permission from authorities to visit Galveston Island to assess the damage. They report that the Strand National Historic Landmark District and East End residential district sustained serious flood damage. The Trust is seeking volunteer structural engineers and architects to work with the Galveston Historical Foundation, Preservation Texas, and preservation groups to assess affected properties and work to save as many as possible.
Flooding associated with the storm impacted other sites as well, including the Farnsworth House, a 1951 modernist structure near Plano, Illinois, which was submerged by floodwaters. The water has started to recede and it appears that the structure remains sound.
The Trust also reports increased pressure from the Nagin administration in New Orleans to demolish historic properties damaged by Hurricane Katrina. In the wake of Hurricane Gustav, the mayor has suspended review of historic structures by the Neighborhood Conservation District Committee (NCDC), a citizens’ group formed to ensure that salvageable historic properties are preserved. The mayor argued that review might “hinder, or delay necessary action in coping with the emergency.” The Trust notes that properties judged to be in imminent danger of collapse are already exempt from NCDC review.