The Faubourg Marigny Historic District continues to battle threats to its historic integrity despite numerous protective measures.
The Faubourg Marigny neighborhood, one of the city’s earliest suburbs, was subdivided in 1806 on the land of plantation owner Bernard de Marigny. In March 1978, the Historic District Landmarks Commission established the Faubourg Marigny Historic District to protect its many historic Creole cottages, shotguns, corner stores, and commercial and industrial structures.¹ The district’s boundaries encompass the entirety of the neighborhood.
New city zoning regulations in the 1950s and 1960s threatened the densely developed neighborhood’s historic integrity, and in reaction, concerned residents led by preservation architect Eugene D. Cizek successfully convinced the City Council to pass the Historic Marigny Zoning Laws in 1971.² This momentum in favor of preservation was built upon shortly afterwards by the establishment of the Faubourg Marigny Improvement Association in 1972.³ The neighborhood’s designation as a National Register Historic District in 1974 and as a local historic district in 1978 cemented Marigny’s status as one of New Orleans’ most well protected historic neighborhoods. ⁴ However, threats continue to arise. In 2012, for instance, FMIA, Cizek, and the broader preservation community battled a spot-zoning request for a proposed mixed-use development in the district at the foot of Elysian Fields Avenue. The developer called for a height limit increase from 50 to 75 feet to accommodate a new 6-story modern structure intended for the site. With the slogan “Size Matters,” preservation advocates called attention to the fact that such a height increase would set a dangerous precedent for subsequent large-scale development along the neighborhood’s historic riverfront. After months of campaigning, their advocacy efforts led to a unanimous City Council vote against the developer’s request.⁵
1. Dominique Hawkins and Catherine E. Barrier, “City of New Orleans Historic District Landmarks Commission: Faubourg Marigny Historic District,” May 2011.
2. Preservation Resource Center, “Living with History in New Orleans’ Neighborhoods: Faubourg Marigny.”
3. Faubourg Marigny Improvement Association, “About Faubourg Marigny.”
4. Louisiana Division of Historic Preservation, “Faubourg Marigny Historic District,” National Register of Historic Places, December 31, 1974.
5. Eugene Cizek, “To the Faubourg Marigny Improvement Association Board,” faubourgmarigny.org, July 9, 2012; and Bruce Eggler, “New Orleans City Council rejects controversial 75-foot apartment building in Marigny,” nola.com, September 6, 2012.