In the past couple of posts, we’ve taken a look at some of the colorful former owners of1001 S. Broad Street. Starting next month, we’ll be starting a four-part series examining the destruction, clean-up, rebuild and reopening of ArtEgg post-Katrina.
This is in part inspired by my own personal circumstances this New Year. Last March 2011, I was kindly invited by friends to move in the apartment that existed in thebasement of their Broadmoor home. It’s a great idea—we’ve been friends for years and they understand that whole financial concept called “school loans.” But there was onesmall rub. The apartment had taken on about 56 inches of water during the flooding ofthe city of New Orleans, post-Katrina. And it had been torn out while cleaning up the property.
So, quite unexpectedly, I found myself involved with the post-Katrina rebuilding efforts still going on in the city. It’s turned into a lengthier process than first expected (June or July of last year) with ugly surprises (like unexpected structural damages that needed correcting before construction could begin) and hidden treasures (lovely old post-WWIIplastic stained glass doors).
We’re all finally in the final stages of rebuilding the apartment. Grouting remains to bedone in the bathroom, the kitchen is only partially complete, the whole space is paintedwith only trim work left to paint, the floors need refinishing. On the plus side, the stainedglass doors were recycled into clerestory windows for the bedroom walls, old slate tilefound onsite has been likewise recycled for the bathroom flooring, and the fifty six inch waterline has been permanently commemorated with bright blue glass tiling installed atthe proper height in the shower stall.
On Wednesday, December 14, 2011, I finished my first semester in Archival Studies viaonline classes hosted by East Tennessee State University. And bright and early on themorning of the 15th, I was onsite at my future apartment, installing insulation. I’m lousy at hanging drywall—I’m too small! And, I’ve discovered I have a talent with drywall mudding, and floating walls and ceilings—the mud reminds me of butter cream frosting and applying is about the same as applying the frosting to a cake. Should this whole history thing not work out, I may have a fair chance in construction!
But all this construction brought home to me the difficulties and realities of rebuilding space lost to flooding and hurricane damage. I was one of the really fortunate ones when it came to being a New Orleans resident post-Katrina—I was home by October 1, 2005.My apartment was water-free and unlooted. My job still existed though my hours werecut and my position downgraded (from bartender to t-shirt vendor).
While I watched many others around me struggle to rebuild, in certain crucial ways, I was untouched by this. While I heard friends and acquaintances discuss their vexationswith rebuilding, I sympathized, tried to help where I could, but didn’t really understandthe stress involved—until now!
Going through this has caused me to consider more current history than has been previously discussed here. Don’t worry, the earliest history of the property won’t beneglected in the exhibit or final report! But, inspired by the experience of rebuilding apost-Katrina residence and my very own apartment, I decided to take a closer look at theprocess of devastation, clean-up, rehabilitation and resurrection of ArtEgg.