DHS Seal - FEMA    
 
FEMA Section 106 Notices for Louisiana
Comment on "Public Notice Regarding Historic Review of the St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Church, 5500 Paris Avenue, New Orleans, Louisiana with linked PDF attachments "
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Name: Greg N
City: New Orleans, LA
Specific
property
affected:
St. Frances Cabrini Church
Comments: I am not an alumnus of Holy Cross or a parishoner of Cabrini but do live on Paris Ave and am keenly interested in the state of our neighborhood. After reviewing the information put forth by all parties I must conclude that the demolition of this building and the construction of the Holy Cross campus is in the long term interest of the area as it rebuilds. Some comments and observations regarding the FEMA "criteria" and basis for eligibility as an historic building worth saving are below.

A. FEMA stated (Times-Picayune) the the building "is unique in its singular design and utilization of several different structural systems in a complex manner." This "complex manner" also appears to lead to the often cited maintenance problems and high costs associated with the structure. Is not the ability to function as intended without excessive cost a consideration? Unique? I read this system was used in other designs? Why was it not used more extensively if it was such worthy design that stands the test of time?

B. While FEMA states the design firm won some awards they do not appear to be the "top" awards given at the time. They are awards such as "honorable mention." Now, after being ravaged by flooding, its status is being elevated?

C. The structure was built around the time of Vatican II but so were hundreds of other churches that utilized the concepts put forth by that council. Unless this building somehow influenced Vatican II this items does not appear to justify any special consideration. And the Catholic church has stated the building has no special standing in the church.

D. The design firm, Curtis and Davis is well-known with or without this structure so what bearing does this have on the significance of the building? It is not a consideration in this designation.

E. The building is less than 50 years old and it is well documented in pictures and presumably design drawings so it will not be "lost" to the
historians.

Finally, the church has stated it will not be refurbished and did not ask for the historic designation, the parish voted to sell the structure and also did not seek the historic designation, and the surrounding neighborhood is devasted and supports demolition. Many people are holding on to what Cabrini "was, not is" or some notion of "what it could be," although nobody has ponied up the millions of dollars it would take to salvage the stucture for "some" purpose. It will sit and be an eyesore if not demolished.

Let the area move on and allow the Holy Cross plan to move forward.