Skip to main content
Tulane Home

MPS in Cuba

After another amazing trip to Cuba, Master of Preservation Studies students and faculty leaders are readjusting and remembering the sites, discoveries, and conversations of last week. Below is a brief synopsis and photos of their extraordinary trip. 

"The Tulane Master of Preservation Studies course in International Practice visited Cienfuegos, Trinidad and Havana in late March 2017 to learn about the operation of Cuba's UNESCO World Heritage Cities. Led in partnership with Tulane's Cuban Studies department and members of ICOMOS Cuba, the 9-day study trip entailed site visits, lectures, interviews and field research. Topics addressed aspects of architectural heritage conservation including tourism management, infrastructure needs, site interpretation and community involvement.  Two round tables with our hosts allowed a sharing of ideas and suggestions that could be applied in both Cuba and the United States."

MPS in Cuba 2017

- JH Stubbs Director, MPS 

Find out more about our Master of Preservation Studies here. Also, follow the MPS program on Facebook and Instagram.

 

Historic preservation work in New Orleans helps bring boost to economy

Tulane Master of Preservation Studies and LSU Landscape Architecture students show numerous possibilities for saving Carrollton Courthouse at public gathering.

Possible futures for the vacant Carrollton Courthouse include a school for building trades, a community gathering place or an event venue, according to a series of visions presented by Tulane architecture students on Thursday evening, but time is running short before the Orleans Parish School Board decides to sell the historic building.

The courthouse was built in 1855 by prolific New Orleans architect Henry Howard in the Greek Revival style, drawing its inspiration directly from the ancient temple of Erechtheion in Athens, built circa 400 B.C., according to research compiled by students in the Tulane School of Architecture building preservation studio. It served as a courthouse for 20 years — with a jail building behind it — then spent more than a century as the home for various schools, McDonogh No. 23, Ben Franklin High School, Lusher Middle School and most recently Audubon Charter.

Audubon Charter left the building in 2013 as the aging structure and decrepit portable outbuildings deteriorated, leaving the Orleans Parish School Board with the difficult decision of what to do with it and annual bills of around $100,000 to keep it insured and minimally maintained. Amid outcry from neighborhood activists and designation of the building as one of “America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places,” Orleans school officials agreed to postpone any decision about its fate for more research, including consideration by the Tulane architecture students.

Based on their research into the building’s history, design and current condition, the students presented three possible uses for it:

  • A university-affiliated building arts school open to the public, similar to the American College of Building Arts in Charleston, S.C.,
  • A community-oriented gathering space, with an assembly hall on the first floor and an open-air market space outside, and
  • A venue available to rent to host weddings and other events, using one of the outbuildings as a bridal suite, for example.

Each of the proposals was accompanied by an analysis of potential revenue sources, such as tuition from the building students or rent from the venue space. The upstairs rooms could be individually rented as office space, and the former cafeteria outbuilding on the Hampson space side could be repurposed into a cafe or restaurant to help drive revenue, the students suggest.

Various estimates of the cost to renovate the building, however, begin around $10 million and quickly escalate, activists said. Complicating the building’s future, state law only allows the School Board to sell the building directly to another governmental entity — any private interest must compete for the building through bids or auction. (Read more about those restrictions here.)

Orleans Parish School Board member Woody Koppel and chief financial officer Stan Smith, who attended Thursday’s forum, told attendees that the OPSB has already delayed action on the building longer than it had originally intended — the bills for insurance, maintenance and groundskeeping continue to divert money from other priorities involving students.

The OPSB is preparing another list of properties to consider as surplus, and the courthouse will likely be on that list, Smith said. While simply placing the property on the list does not determine that it will be immediately disposed of, it will reignite the conversation, Smith said.

Thus, if anyone has a proposal for the courthouse’s future, that individual needs to step forward “with all due urgency,” Koppel said.

“We need to get it to a resolution quickly,” Smith said.

The School Board has expressed some willingness to place restrictions protecting the building when it does go to sale, though it is not currently included in any district that would give it official landmark protection by the city. Meanwhile, as the courthouse sits vacant, its deterioration is accelerating — heightening the need to find it a new owner soon.

“It’s going downhill slowly but surely,” Stubbs said. “When buildings are used, they’re properly preserved. … This is an urgent situation from the standpoint of saving this building. If anyone has ideas that are viable, now is the time.”

Professor John H. Stubbs present a lecture on architectural preservation at The Friends of Robinson Gardens

The Cause of Architectural Preservation 

The Friends of Robinson Gardens and their guests were very honored to have Professor John H. Stubbs present a marvelous lecture on architectural preservation. Professor Stubbs is considered one of the top people in his field. Among his many accomplishments, he served as Vice President for Field Programs at the World Monuments Fund where he was instrumental in establishing the Watch List of endangered sites world-wide.

Focusing on historic preservation in America, Dr. John Stubbs explained that the first real traceable effort occurred in Philadelphia at Independence Hall. Due to the “stupendous” event that occurred there — the signing of The Declaration of Independence, the local citizens saw that it was “worth preserving.” “Thanks to their efforts, it became an icon in the hearts and minds of many Americans,” Dr. Stubbs explained.

In 1854, when Congress did not want to restore Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington in Virginia, several enterprising ladies “took the bull by the horns” and accomplished it themselves. They accurately restored the beautiful interiors and, in addition, they made a commitment to maintain the entire estate encompassing the gardens, servants’ quarters and other buildings.

Another important historic landmark, Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia was restored with funds that were generously donated by John D. Rockfeller Jr. Professor Stubbs explained that “Williamsburg did wonders for raising awareness of American history, and it was a landmark in the history of restoration.”  He  also showed us slides of beautiful sites in Charleston, South Carolina and New Orleans. Creating “an awesome multiplier effect,” the beauty of these restorations inspired others all over the country to preserve their history.  As an example, Professor Stubbs presented the High Line in New York’s lower Westside. It was an abandoned railway that was repurposed by the community. It is now a beautifully landscaped, elevated park with a view of the Hudson River. This improvement led to high end stores moving nearby. Furthermore, the addition of the new Renzo Piano-designed Whitney Museum facing the High Line richly revitalized the area as well. Professor Stubbs has given workshops on tax incentives to restore these types of urban areas.

A very passionate advocate for architectural preservation, Professor Stubbs explained that “we have a huge debt to our predecessors; it is our responsibility to pick up the mantle. The reward is that the cause is so right, the material and the people so wonderful.” Dr.  Stubbs is presently working with Friends member Janice Jerde to preserve Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesen West in Arizona, which was recently nominated for inclusion on the Unesco World Heritage List.  Professor Stubbs ended the lecture by exclaiming “I was given the best tour of Robinson Gardens by Maralee Beck; I just love this place!”

We then had delicious hors d’oeuvres and desserts in the Rose Garden. Beautiful bouquets of sunflowers and chrysanthemums infused the scene with an autumnal splendor. Thank you to our amazing co-chairs Marian Power and Janice Jerde for organizing such an inspiring event for us to enjoy!

To learn more about John H. Stubbs’ research and writings, go to: www.conservebuiltworld.com.

Post by Linda Meadows
Member of Friends of Robinson Gardens

Tulane-LSU Design Partnership Examines Futures for Carrollton Courthouse

In response to the Orleans Parish School Board's move to deaccession the Carrollton Courthouse building, Professors Michael Shoriak of the Master of Preservation Studies program within the Tulane School of Architecture and Lake Douglas, Associate Professor in  LSU’s Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture, will conduct a collaborative project in October to determine possibilities for documenting, restoring, preserving, and re-using the building and its landscape setting as one of the City’s most distinguished landmarks.

John Stubbs, Director of Tulane’s Preservation Studies program, and Orleans Parish School Board member Woody Koppel said the results of  this academic study will first be presented to invited respondents representing government officials, cultural institutions and community leaders who could be part of the solution for re-purposing and saving the building. Following the completion of the joint study during the month of October, presentations on the results will offered on two occasions this fall. Based on ideas and suggestions gained from the initial presentation, a subsequent presentation to the public will be sponsored by the Louisiana Landmarks Society later this year. 

Louisiana Landmarks Press Release

Lecture scheduled: Preserving Gulf Coast Architecture in a Global Context

MPS director John Stubbs, quoted in an article on Poverty Point's UN Heritage Status

Inspired by Poverty Point, New Orleans could seek UN heritage status

The Paris-based United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in June designated an ancient Native American complex known as Poverty Point, east of Monroe, as Louisiana's first World Heritage site. The state legislature supported that nomination in 2010. Meanwhile, interest in proposing either the French Quarter or the historic core of New Orleans as a UNESCO site has grown. The 1,007 world heritage listings to date have cultural or natural significance, or both, and include a number of urban centers.

The United States has 22 UNESCO heritage sites, weighted toward national parks, notably Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon and Mesa Verde. The agency is considering the Alamo and four other San Antonio, Texas missions for heritage status next year. Also on a proposed list are three African American churches with civil rights histories in Alabama.

 

...Tulane University architecture professor John Stubbs, who directs the university's Master of Preservation Studies program, grew up in Monroe, 45 miles southwest of Poverty Point. "When I was in high school in the 1960s, we were surrounded by Indian history and were well aware of it, but we weren't taught about Poverty Point," he said last week. Situated to the west of Monroe are the significant Watson Break earthworks, dating to 3300 BC...

Full Article Here

Spoils of War: Conference on Loss of World War II Heritage in the Pacific Region

Day long seminar on 2 October 2014 at the World War II Museum on the plunder and destruction military remains of the Second World War in the Pacific region. Seven speakers, including Tulane MPS Director John Stubbs, address the scope, challenges and legalities of protecting the physical remains of the battles that ended World War II.

 

OCTOBER 2, 2014; 9:00 a.m. to 4:40 p.m.

The National WWII Museum
945 Magazine Street, New Orleans
(6.5 hours of CLE credit approved)

Join lawyers and experts in the following fields for a fascinating and informative program on:

  • The Plunder and Destruction of Cultural Heritage in the Pacific Theater
  • Preserving the War’s Historic Sites
  • Preventing the Desecration of Sunken WWII Heritage Sites
  • The Environmental Time Bombs of Sunken Battleships

Preservation Matters III Creates a Buzz

Local social journalist Nell Nolan covers the symposium and reception of Preservation Matters III: The Economics of Authenticity in New Orleans' Advocate newspaper.

Full Article Here

Tulane's Preservation Studies program launches interactive New Orleans Preservation Timeline

The New Orleans Preservation Timeline, which is now live at architecture.tulane.edu/preservation-project, is an attempt to bring New Orleans’ rich and significant preservation past, present and future to life. The events that led to the safeguarding of this incredible city — as well as the losses that have been suffered — have left a legacy from which the world can learn.

The New Orleans Preservation Timeline project offers a web-based educational resource for those interested in the progress and key accomplishments of architectural preservationists working in the region of New Orleans, Louisiana, since the mid-nineteenth century. Phase I of the project was launched as a project of the Master of Preservation Studies program in the Tulane School of Architecture in April 2014. Peruse the events, people, organizations and places that have shaped New Orleans' urban history by visiting the site at architecture.tulane.edu/preservation-project.

Pages