The Faubourg Marigny Improvement Association (FMIA) has promoted and protected the historic neighborhood since 1972.
By the mid-twentieth century, the historic Faubourg Marigny neighborhood was in decline due to reduced population, neglect, and unsympathetic zoning regulations that disregarded the area’s low-rise residential character.¹ On the Royal Street side of Washington Square, Holy Redeemer Church, historic residences, and a branch of the New Orleans Public Library were razed in 1970 to make way for the Catholic Archdiocese’s Christopher Inn, a nine-story assisted living facility that is grossly out of scale with the neighborhood.² The preservation community was galvanized to prevent similar inappropriate development in the future, and their efforts began with a 1971 Tulane University study that analyzed the merits of special zoning as an alternative to historic districting.³ The results of the study, which was led by preservation architect Eugene D. Cizek, convinced the City Council to adopt Historic Marigny Zoning, which protect the neighborhood from projects like Christopher Inn.⁴ Shortly afterward, in August 1972, residents formed the Faubourg Marigny Improvement Association (FMIA), a vigilant neighborhood group that continues to safeguard the area today.⁵ Cizek was FMIA’s first president.
In the mid-1970s, FMIA began organizing events that would attract potential residents to the area, such as historic house tours and concerts in Washington Square, which was restored in 1976. It also assisted in efforts to nominate Faubourg Marigny to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.⁶ That same year, the neighborhood was one of the subjects of the Friends of the Cabildo’s fourth volume in its New Orleans Architecture series, The Creole Faubourgs, and four years later it became a local historic district.⁷Today, due in large part to FMIA’s ongoing efforts to promote and protect the neighborhood, Faubourg Marigny comprises one of the most intact collections of nineteenth-century buildings in the city.⁸
1. Preservation Resource Center, “Living with History in New Orleans’ Neighborhoods: Faubourg Marigny.”
2. Marjorie Ruehl, “Church Housing Sparked by Betsy,” Times-Picayune, August 6, 1988.
3. Preservation Resource Center, “Living with History in New Orleans’ Neighborhoods: Faubourg Marigny.”
5. Eugene Cizek, interview with the author, September 29, 2014.
6. Louisiana State Historic Preservation Office, “Faubourg Marigny Historic District,” Louisiana National Register of Historic Places, December 31, 1974.
7. Roulhac Toledano, Sally Kittredge Evans, and Mary Louis Christovich, New Orleans Architecture, Volume IV: The Creole Faubourgs (Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing Company, 1974), 3; and Dominique Hawkins and Catherine E. Barrier, “City of New Orleans Historic District Landmarks Commission: Faubourg Marigny Historic District,” May 2011.
8. Faubourg Marigny Improvement Association, “History of the Faubourg Marigny.”