A non-profit neighborhood advocacy group, the Vieux Carré Property Owners, Residents and Associates, Inc. (VCPORA) has fought to protect the historic Vieux Carré neighborhood since 1938.
The Vieux Carré Property Owners, Residents and Associates, Inc. (VCPORA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the architecture and distinctive character of the Vieux Carré.¹ Under the leadership of preservation activist and Vieux Carré resident Elizebeth T. Werlein, the Vieux Carré Property Owners Association (VCPOA) was officially incorporated in 1938 in response to the newly established Vieux Carré Commission (VCC), which in Werlein’s opinion was not adequately fulfilling its duties.² As the association’s leader, Werlein battled with the VCC and, through tenacious effort, won the support of Mayor Robert Maestri to strengthen the commission and improve quality-of-life issues in the neighborhood through increased police enforcement.³ Working with her were several other influential Vieux Carré residents, including lawyer Jacob Haight Morrison, his wife Mary Meek Morrison, and General L. Kemper Williams, who would go on to establish The Historic New Orleans Collection.⁴ The group’s mission, according to its founding charter, was “to encourage and assist in the preservation, restoration, beautification, and general betterment” of the Vieux Carré.⁵ Today, VCPORA continues this mission of protecting not only the neighborhood’s historic architecture but also its character as a living and working community.
For decades, VCPORA has been an outspoken participant in a variety of issues affecting the historic neighborhood’s sense of place, particularly in the face of a thriving tourist industry.⁶ A few of its numerous successes include the reinstatement of VCC jurisdiction over eighteen blocks on the north side of the Vieux Carré and its role in the defeat of the Riverfront Expressway (1960s), the rerouting of municipal bus lines to the historic district’s outskirts and a moratorium on new hotel construction in the heart of the old city (1970s), a ban on large tourist buses on the district’s interior streets (1980s), and the prohibition of bullhorn use on walking tours (2000s).⁷
1. VCPORA, “About VCPORA.”
2. Walter W. Gallas, “Neighborhood Preservation and Politics in New Orleans: Vieux Carré Property Owners, Residents and Associates, Inc. and City Government, 1938–1983” (master’s thesis, University of New Orleans, 1996), 23.
3. Anthony Stanonis, “‘A Woman of Boundless Energy’: Elizebeth Werlein and Her Times,” Louisiana History: A Journal of the Louisiana Historical Association 46 no. 1 (Winter 2005): 22- 23.
4. Gallas, “Neighborhood Preservation and Politics in New Orleans,” 25.
5. Gallas, 24.
6. Teresa Anne Wilkinson, “Sense of Place and Preservation Planning: An Analysis of the Vieux Carré from 1718 to 1985” (master’s thesis, University of New Orleans, 1985), 58.
7. VCPORA, 75th Anniversary PowerPoint presentation, 2013; and Gallas, 130-32.
Suggestions for Additional Reading and Research
Boudreaux, Raymond J. 1991. Interview by Dorothy Mahan. Tape recording. January 11. Friends of the Cabildo Oral History Program, New Orleans Public Library.
Vieux Carré Property Owners, Residents and Associates, Inc. The Historic New Orleans Collection.
Vieux Carré Property Owners, Residents & Associates Collection. Earl K. Long Library, University of New Orleans.