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FEMA Section 106 Notices for Louisiana
Comment on "Public Notice Regarding Section 106 Review of State of Louisiana, LA Dept of Education/Recovery School District (RSD) Proposal to Demolish and Replace the Phillis Wheatley Elementary School, 2300 Dumaine St, New Orleans, LA - Seeking Public Comment"
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Name: Graham Owen
City: New Orleans, LA
Phillis Wheatley School, Thomy Lafon School
Comments: The demolition of Wheatley and Lafon Schools would erase irreplaceable cultural resouces from the city of New Orleans. The buildings are both actual and potential cultural resources: potential in that both, as flood-resilient designs, are readily adaptable to new community uses; actual in that both represent a moment in New Orleans' history when a bright vision of the city's future was realized in architecture. Now, after Katrina, when a motivating vision of the city's future continues to be crucial to its recovery, we can recover an important part of that future from the recent past.

In thriving cities, cultural diversity and depth are sustained by the coexistence of traditional city fabric and modern design. Thoughtful and innovative adaptive reuse of buildings from all eras signal a city's health: it does not throw away places that can be repurposed to new needs, and it does not erase its own memory.

New technical means now exist to enable the Wheatley and Lafon buildings to more fully realize their original ambitions. At 50 years of age, they have become part of the historic fabric of the city Their recovery, reuse and rejuvenation would stand as a powerful symbol for the recovery of a community, its positive memories and its hopes for the future.