DHS Seal - FEMA    
FEMA Section 106 Notices for Louisiana
Comment on "Public Notice Regarding Historic Review of the St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Church, 5500 Paris Avenue, New Orleans, Louisiana with linked PDF attachments "
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Name: William Hippler '03
City: Metairie, LA
Comments: There are some definite uses for the former church that everyone could enjoy. Whether or not the structure is "art" or "historic" is debatable. Having seen the building myself, it does have qualities that strike me as being unique and beautiful, and obviously other people feel the same way. It seems to me that Holy Cross, or whoever else purchases the land could use this building in one function or another. Obviously, Holy Cross or the archdiocese could once again use it as a Church. I would think they would want to given the historic, "open" nature of the facility as it represents Vatican II. Plus, Holy Cross' new plans include a chapel. However, even if it is not restored as a church, for whatever reasons, there are some alternate uses for the building as well. The most obvious I could think of was a library. I'm sure Holy Cross would need a library in their new facility. Given the spacious and serene atmosphere of the building, a library could make good use of this design. Also, I'm not sure if the city has many resources to invest in projects such as this in the Gentilly area. Perhaps the City, FEMA and Holy Cross would be interested in partnering to have it serve as both the HC and a public library. Paring a school library with that of a public library has been done in the past with a public school in New Orleans, so why not a private one? It seems to me this would serve both Holy Cross and the Community, as it would help reunite the community via the interaction of private and public interest, which I think is a good use of public (FEMA) funds. I'm sure there are other clever architects and designers out there that could come up with more ideas as well.
It seems to me that if Holy Cross were truly interested in expediting the rebuilding of their campus, they would be interested and open to hear about ways to have the building serve their purposes instead of spending months fighting over the funds to tear it down. I'm sure it does interfere with their plans. However, to place such high regard for their own traditions, while dismissing the traditions of others is not something I would expect from my alma mater. That is why I would suggest to the Holy Cross Administration, FEMA, and other members of the Holy Cross Community that they consider ways in which the building could be used to suit its buyer (Holy Cross). I know if I were a Holy Cross Parent, which I may become one day; I would want them, even if I didn't agree with the historical status of the building, to find some way to compromise in order to get my child out of a trailer and into a classroom. I also think that this is a very achievable goal given the design of the building and the needs of Holy Cross and the surrounding community. Additionally, FEMA and historic preservation groups (public and private) should help with the costs of such an arrangement in a way that both properly preserves the building and mitigates the burden on the buyer (Holy Cross) in terms of restoration, upkeep, etc.