Before expanding their operations, the Leidenheimer Baking Company had to decide what to do with a historic 1895 shotgun house on the company’s grounds.
They didn’t need the house, but they didn’t want to demolish it either, says Danielle Del Sol, executive director of the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans. “So, they reached out to us.”
While the PRC does acquire buildings and refurbish them themselves, “we really do shine in terms of being a resource for others and helping people connect the dots when they want to do right by historic buildings and save them, but they don’t quite know how to do that,” Del Sol says.
The first dot would be to find someone willing to take the house at its new location, says Del Sol. In stepped Thrive New Orleans, a St. Roch based nonprofit based around economic development and helping people gain equity and grow as individuals.
The house will be placed on an empty lot owned by Thrive in St. Roch, and they’ll restore it and turn it into an affordable housing unit.
As for the considerable logistics, first, “you have to chop the house up to make it movable,” explains Del Sol. “You have to take the roof off, you have to coordinate with utility companies to make sure no power lines are anywhere in the way along the route…and then there’s the whole lifting it up, hauling it and then putting it down on new piers or a slab, that is all extremely expensive.”
It’s also the longest such move the PRC has ever undertaken. “Typically, when we’ve facilitated house moves before, it’ll be a few blocks, or maybe a mile at the most,” says Del Sol. “This is, as the bird flies, four miles.”
Del Sol is quick to point out that all of this is only possible thanks to the generosity and skill of Davie Shoring who is donating the move entirely.
Currently, the house is prepped and ready to move. “The slab has been poured in St. Roch and is on the lot and is almost ready,” says Del Sol, “so once we get the go-ahead that the slab is really ready to go, the house will be moved.”
(To watch move live, follow the PRC’s Instagram account, @prcno.)
So why go to so much trouble over one shotgun house in a city full of them? To start, this particular shotgun is important because it has housed people for over a century, says Del Sol. “It’s an important part of the Leidenheimer Baking Company and their history, and it’s really beautiful that it’s going to have a whole new life with new people living in it and making it their home.”
But beyond that, the PRC believes in the importance of “every single shotgun,” says Del Sol. “New Orleans is so full of historic architecture that it’s easy to lose sight of why an individual small building might matter, but really it’s death by a thousand cuts – if you demolish buildings one by one by one, at the end of the day we won’t have them anymore.
“I like to talk about the holy trinity of New Orleans,” adds Del Sol, “which is our architecture, our music and culture, and our cuisine. Any one of those in and of itself is special, but when you combine the three it’s magic, and without that crucial part of our historic, built environment, we lose a huge part of who we are as a city, our identity.“
To learn more about the Preservation Resource Center and its other projects, including a collaboration with musician PJ Morton to turn Buddy Bolden’s old home into a recording studio/seminar space/museum, visithttps://prcno.org.