Florence Avenue and the National Register

Early this year (January/February), I sent a letter to the Louisiana Division of Historic Preservation exploring the possibility of getting my house on the National Register.  I included the history and pictures of three more large notable houses that are in a row on the same side of my street and also gave a short history blurb on my home.  I understand from several sources that many people before me have tried and failed…but, people who know me well enough know that things like that don’t deter me.  What’s the harm in trying?  I said to myself, “If I get another rejection letter, I will just add it to the pile.”  So, I sent my letter on and waited for a reply. 

I had a lady call me about a week or two after I sent my letter.  She was very excited to get my “preapplication” letter.  I was very excited and was wondering why others have had problems getting this house on the register.  Well, I did not have to wonder for long.  The lady on the phone did not read my letter and thought that my house was the Thompson-Hargis mansion. (I have a post on the Hargis mansion somewhere on here if you want to see a picture of it.)  I quickly explained that the Hargis home was down the street, but my house was the FIRST picture on the front page of the letter.  It seemed that she lost interest in our conversation after that point.  This lady (I am purposely not giving her name), told me that she believed my house was already in a National Register historic district and that I probably don’t need to apply.  I patiently explained that I was not in the National Register historic district, but I was in the local historic designation named Area 3, or the Garden District.  The whole time I was thinking that if she read my letter she would have known this.  She kept on the phone for forty-five more minutes trying to convince me I was in an area I was not, then she looked up the map and realized that I was not in that area, then she put me on hold…..you get the picture.  She did tell me that I would have to renovate the house and rebuild the turret before they would give my preapplication any serious thought.  To back track a little, I was told by historic minded individuals and also by the LDHP’s website that I must contact LDHP first before doing any renovations or making any modifications to the home so as not to jeopardize any possibility of a future listing on the register. I pointed this out to her.  She said that was not true.  After I hung up with her, I told my husband that the LDHP office must be run by idiots and I totally despaired of ever being able to obtain National Register status.  I told him we would just order our own sign and put it in the yard.

In the meantime, I hired a architect to draw the plans for the turret rebuild.  I already had an interest in restoring the turret, so we found Lestar Martin, a very capable, enthusiastic and historic minded architect.  I found out later that Mr. Martin is on the National Register nominating committee for the State of Louisiana.  Mr. Martin came by and was very positive about our home and the turret rebuild.  He felt that our home did merit National Register status.  His very upbeat attitude and positive comments were very welcome and infectious.  Mr. Martin drew up blueprints to restore the turret and also did a rendering of what our house would look like now after all of our repairs were made.  It is beautiful!  I scanned it in to post on the site here, but the file is too big.  Sorry guys!

Anyway, I said all of this to say, I received a call from Pat Duncan at the LDHP about a week ago.  My file was transferred to her and she read my letter.  She agrees with me that the area my house in is very historic and warrants National Register status.  Although we did not discuss listing my house individually on the National Register, she did say that she is going to nominate the four houses in a row on Florence Avenue as their own separate National Register Historic District!  So, my house would be included in a small historic district.  I would still receive the tax credits and recognition as if I were individually listed on the register.  I am very excited about this!  She is working on the legalities and paperwork and hopes to have the nomination ready to send to Washington, D.C. by the next meeting in April.  Some locals call this area “Mansion Row” or the “West End District”.  The suggestion for the listing on the National Register is the “Florence Avenue Historic District”.  I am very excited!

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