Since its founding in 1974, Preservation Resource Center has become a leading advocacy and educational organization for the residents of New Orleans.
Preservation Resource Center (PRC) is an advocacy group dedicated to protecting New Orleans’ rich architectural heritage and promoting the economic benefits of historic preservation. Since 1974, PRC has also successfully restored over 1,400 local properties.¹
Initially organized by the Junior League of New Orleans, PRC was conceived as a community group with a common goal of educating citizens about alternatives to demolition and ways to influence decision-making processes that shape the city’s environment.² Founding members included preservation architects Eugene D. Cizek and Samuel Wilson Jr., lawyer Larry Schmidt, who served as PRC’s first director, and preservationists and authors Mary Louise Christovich and Roulhac Toledano, among many others.³ The group’s first office at 823 Perdido Street, a donated space, officially opened in January 1975. That summer, PRC began publishing Preservation Press, now known as Preservation In Print, the sole serial publication in the state covering preservation issues.4 Today, in partnership with the Louisiana State Historic Preservation Office, the award-winning magazine distributes nine issues a year to PRC’s 4,000 members and thousands more constituents and preservation leaders throughout the nation.5
In 1988, PRC instituted two of its vital ongoing programs: Operation Comeback, which promotes the purchase, renovation, and sale of vacant historic properties, and Rebuilding Together New Orleans (then known as Christmas in October), a neighborhood revitalization program that initially focused on helping elderly and low-income families and grew to include full-scale renovation and rebuilding projects after Hurricane Katrina with a focus on getting families back to their homes.6 Further evidence of the PRC’s hands-on preservation work is visible in their current headquarters at the 1853 Leeds Iron Foundry building, which has been designated as a local landmark by the Historic District Landmarks Commission (HDLC) and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.7
Under the leadership of Patricia Gay, who has served as director since 1980, PRC continues its efforts in education, outreach, and advocacy through its many additional programs, including preservation easements (PRC holds over 100 throughout Louisiana), homebuyer workshops and training, house and walking tours, and the African American Heritage Preservation Program (AAHP), which has installed commemorative plaques on the homes of 48 New Orleans jazz legends.8
1. Preservation Resource Center, “About PRC.”
2. Jill Jackson, “Preservation Center Opens,” The Times-Picayune, January 20, 1975.
3. Mary Louise Christovich, in discussion with the author, March 13, 2014.
4. Preservation Resource Center, “Preservation In Print.”
6. Preservation Resource Center, “Operation Comeback”; and Preservation Resource Center, “Rebuilding Together.”
7. Preservation Resource Center, “Location.”
8. Preservation Resource Center, “Programs.”