Dispatch from New Orleans: Do you care about this?

Written By: Kathy Price-Robinson - May• 11•08

One house. One woman. Across the continent. Is this interesting to you?I had the occasion to visit New Orleans recently and toured a Katrina-damaged home that had been restored in a green manner, which I wrote about in a previous post.

I also toured the home pictured above, situated in the Holy Cross Neighborhood of the Lower 9th Ward, near the Global Green model home Brad Pitt is involved with.

I’d love to follow the restoration of this 1870s home on this blog. But I’m not sure if you would find it interesting and I need your feedback. I’m enthralled with this region and the fact that an estimated 50,000 storm-damaged homes need work. Whenever I see a 100-year-old home that needs help, I feel an almost irresistible desire to fix it up.

This home is a stone’s throw from the Mississippi River and is now owned by Ariane Wiltse, whom you see above in the green shirt, talking with contractor Julie Groth. You can also see the trailer on the top left where Ariane will live until the house gets the prized certificate of occupancy.

When the storms hit in 2005, Ariane was in Florida in graduate school, studying to become a foreign correspondent. After graduating, though, she felt she needed to come home to New Orleans and be part of the rebuild. This house was a foreclosure listed for $24,000. A bit of a bidding war ensued, and Ariane got it for $40,000.

At the time, the drywall (which they call sheetrock in the eastern part of the country) was stripped off the lower four feet of the walls. But Ariane wanted to see what was going on with the entire structure, so she removed the rest of it. With a written home inspection and the advice of several contractors, she has decided to make all structural improvements before closing up the walls. Because flooding from the levee failure did not sit for weeks in this house (homes near the river tend to be on higher ground), there is not extensive mold damage and no mold smell.

I could go on. But should I?

I’m curious to find out: Would readers of this blog enjoy following along as Ariane restores this house? And to hear of her struggles as a community activist fighting against the area’s rising crime? Or is this just too far from SoCal to be of interest?

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3 Comments

  1. I love your posts and trust me, we care. Please keep’em coming. You always offer a great outsider’s view, though, like everyone trying to tell this story, it is obvious from the tone of your writing that you love New Orleans and would be happier living here as the rest of the country goes to Mall in a hand basket!:)
    I hung you onto today’s Ladder.
    Thank you,
    Bruce
    editor~New Orleans News Ladder

  2. Bill Roussarie says:

    Of course, I voted yes. I am an ex pat, who has lived in Marietta GA for 22 years. After IT happened, I thought it would all be gone, but I realize now it is largely salvagable. New Orleans is a treasure trove of architectural wonder. It is an American treasure that American are not knowledgeable of.
    I would love to read a journal of problems relating to retoring theold house.
    I have done two of them and would liike to know how it works now.
    Please write it!

  3. Yes, I am interested and everyone in the country should be. The people in New Orleans deserve our interest and support! On our website, http://www.schoolmoldhelp.org, we have a Katrina section that might be of interest to those in New Orleans and the rest of our site covers what mold can do to health (which we ALL need to learn) and what to do about it.

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