d o c o m o m o l o u i s i a n a is a regional chapter of an international committee dedicated to the

documentation and conservation of the buildings, sites and neighborhoods of the modern movement

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Comments on the Petition to Save Phillis Wheatley Elementary School

Please sign the petition today! Currently signatures are above 1300 and include members of the Treme community and the greater New Orleans area, displaced New Orleanians, architects, educators, preservationists and fans of New Orleans culture and architecture from around the world.  Thanks to all who have already written in.

maggie dawes
It is time to stop degrading the
African American/Carribean heritage of New Orleans. Stop the destruction of this landmark.

Tamara Prosper
I'm tired of excuses for refusing to rebuild our schools. The people who are so eager to destroy the places where children can learn are the same ones complaining about the crime rate which wouldn't be so high if young people felt like they had a decent future to look forward to. Please save this school. Please help this community. Please do this for the city of New Orleans.

Gloria DeCuir-Robert
Stop demolishing and changing the names of schools named after African American heroes!

Wessel De Jonge
Architect and Co-founder of DOCOMOMO International

Loretta Yoiung-Williams
There is no legitimate reason for demolishing this building. Probably the first modern school facility built in New Orleans. Some of the landmarks in that area still stand and have been restored since Katrina......Willie Mae's Scotchhouse & Restaurant and Dooky Chase Restaurant.......Phyllis Wheatley is also one of this area's landmarks and should continue to be a school to serve this community......I want to be able to bring my grandchildren to this area and let them see some of the same things in this neighborhood that were there when I grew up in it. Save Phyliis Wheatley....restore it!

Robert A. Svetz
Hasn't New Orleans lost enough buildings, let alone one that - standing a full story above ground - looks like it is sufficiently flood protected to be designated as a rescue station in emergencies?
Sustainability's champions need more than ever to support 'Reuse' among its 4 R's - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Regenerate - if for no other reason than there's a lot more serious and creatively demanding Reuse design work to be done in the US than new design work.
Get over your glossy emergent cnc-milled 'newgasms' and support this sensible petition.

Melissa Woods
I attended Wheatley Elementary school from kindergarten to 6th grade. I have so many happy memories of my school years. Wheatley is where my journey of life began. I was blessed and shaped by so many teachers and faculty members at the school. I was taught to be proud of who I am and was given the needed education which lead me to strive for excellence. Wheatley has always been etched in my mind and I constantly think of all the beautiful people at Wheatley who had a hand in shaping the person I am today. By destroying Wheatley, you will destroy a part of our lives. We have already lost most of our homes and many of us have not been able to return. When ever I visit New Orleans, I always stop by Wheatley. Just seeing the school, gives me the strength and encouragement to continue what was started in me by the school. For most of us, it's pretty much all we have to look back on after the destruction of hurricane katrina.

Mark Smith
The societal norm propagates bias against architect that is constructed in our own generation. There is a time shift of what is deemed important, Victorians from the 1890’s, bungalows from the 1920’s are now valued and protected. Buildings of our generation are not yet old enough to be nostalgic and discussed at the local PTA as worth saving. Modernism looses buildings ever day that we will never even know the significance of what we are losing until it is too late. The Phillis Wheatley Elementary School should not be demolished.

Lucie Faulknor
As a former resident of New Orleans and the producer of a documentary on Treme, I know the importance of preserving the past. Do not demolish the Phillis Wheatley Elementary School. If it is not to be used as a school, certainly it can be re-purposed for some other community use. Environmentally and historically, saving it is the right thing to do.

Jeffrey Scanlan
MODERN architecture is a part of our history too!

David Davies
Please try and think about the value of architecture to your environment. The school building looks stunning and alternate uses would find a superb functioning space. Once demolished, you can never go back. N'Orleans needs to maintain as much of its historical integrity as possible. Please think again before its too late.Thank you for taking the time to read this message.

Tabi Katouzi
I alway listen to my best Friend Mary Ali.

Frits van Dongen
The Philis Wheatley Elementary School building should never be demolished!

Christopher Tavener
Although I am not a student of the school, as and architect and preservationist, I urge you to abandon demolition and consider adaptive reuse of this fine building whose design has proved extraordinarily well attuned to its use and the environment of New Orleans, and whose reuse would also reduce waste of energy embodied in its construction..

Jayme Spencer
As a former resident of New Orleans, I regret that the school will be demolished without a hearing at the very least.

Lucian Fulger SANDULESCU
It's a pity to destroy the past....the history of the town.
It's a great mistake to destroy a good architectural object.
As an ICOMOS-Ro director comitee member i strongly support this petition.

Loreen Silvarahawk
In order for our children to remember history, they need to have visible reminders not plaques.

Jason Ryan
Just got back from service trip to NOLA where we sadly helped close down the Lower 9th Health Clinic. It's time to fix not tear down New Orleans!

Margaret Zeidler
As a lover of beautiful buildings and a frequent visitor to your extraordinary city - PLEASE reconsider this decision!

Dierdre Miano
Thank you for listening to the people--the "suburbanization" of New Orleans must cease!!!
Rich, cultural heritage! Remember--it's good for tourists, it's good for locals.
Thank you for listening to your heart.

Kubičková Klára

Dorothy McHattie
What a wonderful piece of mid-20th century architecture, which certainly deserves to be restored as part of New Orleans, US and world heritage. It is particularly fine as a school, being designed to allow daylight to flood into the building, just a teaching allows light to flood into the lives of children. It would be a tragedy for it to be demolished.

Robert Pfaffmann
America is facing a great challenge in saving mid century modern culture. Thank you for alerting us!

Fernando Vázquez
It will be a pity if the authorities of the city leave this beautiful and very well planned building from the 1950s to be destroyed and worse still if we think that it is so rare to fine modern heritage in a place that has few examples, as it is New Orleans.

Dabne Whitemore
This is an absolutely fabulous building that is very close proximity to the new Lafitte development. The renovated school building would add a new dimension to the street grid by having a renovated area one block off the new development, which would hopefully spur more renovations. Also, the building drainage is severely compromised under the building and would need to be addressed - it would be good to have an entire landscaping plan associated with the renovation.

Toby Branden
Save our schools! Save our children!!

Christopher Bernhardt
This school is an important part of New Orleans' great architecture. So many wonderful buildings have recently been destroyed or abandoned. Don't add this school to the list.

Jose Cervino
Architecture such as this should not be demolished, but taken as an example that even he most practical of buildings can be beautiful yet safe.

Crystal Kile
This school is a modern architectural gem, and should be preserved, perhaps as a civil rights museum or community center. It should have been salvaged and re-opened as a neighborhood school, but that is a whole other discussion.

Lina Moses
New Orleans must support diversity of all kinds, including it's architecture. What an amazing piece of history and a tremendous resource potentially for the community. Phillis Wheatley was ahead of her time when she lived, yet her poetry is timeless, as is the building named for her.

Frederick Lee Lawson
The modernism of the recent past will someday be the "old" fabric of the future. N.O. is a preservation city which treasures its history & traditions. The demolition of the Rivergate for replacement with the "Vegas-Style" casino is done & was a huge loss to the city. Any decent modernist structures which we can save are important, maybe not to us immediately but to the future. Save this one.

Andrealouise Jackson-Richard
This school made national history as a winner.

Julie Lord
Demolition would be a pointless act of council-initiated vandalism. Fight the good fight!

Stan Teng
New Orleans has a rich architectural history that is not limited to Creole cottages, shotguns, Victorian and Garden District Buildings. The architectural history includes modernist buildings of 1950's that responded to new methods of construction and contemporary ways of relating to the New Orleans climate. To lose a building like Phiillis Wheatley Elementary School would create a gap in the continuum of New Orleans history.

robin grow
members of the Art Deco & Modernism Society in Australia are opposed to the demolition of this wonderful school building

Gary Wolf, AIA
I am supporting this petition because of the apparent quality and importance of this building as a work of modern architecture. That such a structure served a black neighborhood in New Orleans makes it an expression of the city's commitment and optimism at the time. A decision now to save it would be an equally strong statement.

Martin Schwartz
New Orleans is the only city in this country that we value solely for its culture: its food, its music, and its architecture. Destroying part of the architectural culture is no different from closing an important restaurant or disbanding one of the renowned jazz ensembles. Any of these acts represents the loss of what makes New Orleans valuable, wonderful, and viable. Katrina destroyed enough of our culture; we needn't do the rest ourselves.

Su Tamsett
It would be a tragedy to demolish this building. The design of this building was so ahead of it's time that, once restored, the school could easily pass as a beautifully realized contemporary building. If it is structurally sound, as reported, it should also be a significant cost savings to restore rather than replace.

Stan Field
Architecture like this is an expression of our society. Let us not self destruct.

Joseph Newland
Please do not destroy a landmark building in a neighborhood that has already lost so much.
It is a classic example from a golden era of American architecture, one whose buildings are often subject to remodeling and/or replacement.
The World Monuments Fund endorses saving it as an important part of N.O. and U.S. heritage--and preserving the many layers of history in a storied town like the Crescent City makes it and all of us a little bit richer.
Please save the school!

Jennifer Levy
My family originates from New Orleans, so this is dear to my heart please save this architectural gem.

Wellington Reiter
I know New Orleans very well. I have personally toured the Wheatley School. Even in its current state, it is a remarkable structure and one that could easily be renewed.

Mary Ruffin Hanbury
About 10 years ago, the Oxford American magazine published an interview with Sam Mockbee the great architect and he listed his 10 favorite works of southern architecture. The Phillis Wheatley School was one of the 10. Based on that recommendation, the next time I visited the city for my work with the National Trust for Historic Preservation I asked my hostess to take me there. She, a native New Orleanean, did not know the building and it took us a while to find it. But when we did, we were dumbstruck. I am not a huge fan of modern architecture but even I could see that this was an amazing piece of architecture. Please do not allow it to be demolished. I realize that as I am not a resident or a constituent, my voice may not "count" as much. But I love your city and I spent Oct-Dec 2005 there coordinating volunteers post Katrina. Do not lose this landmark. It will be a huge loss for you and for all of us who love New Orlenas and love architecture.
Mary Ruffin Hanbury

Alan Karchmer
The presence of buildings from all periods of design is essential to maintain the continuum of history in a living city. New Orleans is distinguished as a city by its rich fabric of urban design. It is essential that this example of 20th Century design remain as part of this whole.

Carolyn Bennett
The building and its name are important to our heritage. Please call off the wrecking balls.

Cleary Larkin
Adaptive re-use of existing architecture is the most economic and environmentally friendly manner of construction. This building is historically and architecturally significant and more effort should be put into the feasibilty study of re-using the structure for a new school. Protect New Orleans heritage and culture; demolition is not the answer.

Karen Campbell
It is a shame what has happened to this building over the years. It is now hideous! Who allowed this to happen? But it would be an even greater shame to demolish it. Return it to its former glory so that it can be an asset to the community instead of an eyesore.

Mary Beth Robinson
Dear Mayor Landrieu,
I am an educator with the College of Architecture and Design in Tennessee and ask that you support the heritage of the Black Neighborhoods in New Orleans and not demolish the Phillis Wheatley Elementary School. This structure is not just architecturally significant, but a significant part of your community's heritage that can't be lost. You will benefit your community more to restore this historical landmark than if you destroy it. Support the amazing heritage of your community and save the Phillis Wheatley Elementary School.
Thank you,
Mary Beth Robinson

David Fixler
This is one of the most important modern buildings in the southern US, with an architectural significance that is nationally recognized. It is testimony to fact that a culture of architectural quality continued to have a strong presence in 20th century New Orleans, and its loss would clearly diminish this culture.

Carl Stein
We have an unfortunate record of carelessness regarding the preservation of the touchstone places that would prompt future generations to consider the social and cultural events that shaped their lives. Once an authentic artifact is gone, it can never be replaced. I urge you to consider the historic implications of destroying a landmark of such significance.

Lucretia Giese
Buildings with historic significance are an essential part of United States culture and warrant preservation I urge that this care be given the Phillis Wheatley Elementary School in New Orleans

Donald McLarty
Of all cities in the US that should be sensitive to historic preservation it is New Orleans, a city steeped in history where architecture serves as the basis for tourism and the economy.
Please respect modern historic structures in your city. It is simply another step in the evolution of the architectural history in New Orleans.

Lisa Ryan
I first saw this school on a walk that my husband and I took to Willie Mae's Scotch House. I was stunned by its beauty, unique character and amazing design. I was also stunned that only a few blocks away, a major urban renewal project resulted in the demolition of thousands of historic buildings and realized the immediate threat to this neighborhood, these properties and to the history of this amazing city. Please stop, think and realize that difficult or challenging social issues that impact a neighborhood or community are not equivalent to bad buildings. Beyond being historically significant, this building served as a vital community resource. Stop the destruction of New Orleans modern architecture....please!

Michael Stanton
I am a New Orleans resident, working in Maryland. I am an architect and Professor of Architecture and write on architectural/urban history. I taught at Tulane for many years.
Charles Colbert's buildings are a living heritage in Louisiana and this one, located in Treme, has its African-American history in addition. The school is simply one of the city's most important structures. Its destruction, like that of so many other crucial New Orleans buildings, will contribute again to the diminishment of our city. It is a monument and should be treated that way. Shame on those who will its destruction.

Joseph Masheck
What a beautiful building! Why do all the illiterate yuppie businessmen now hate Modern Architecture? Well, I guess I'm answering my own question.

anthony pleskow
Certain buildings become a critical part of our collective cultural heritage for a number of reasons. The memories of those that have shared experiences within the framework of the structure and the historical value these buildings have as quality representations of a particular artistic canon.This building qualifies on these fronts and more.

Ian MacRae
I love Nola and visit often. I think this building represents an important chapter in the citys history and would be interetes in visiting it one day. Ian

ken hedrick
Please recognize what this building means to those who have used it, seen it on a daily basis thruout their life, and who might grow to understand and appreciate it in the future. Where would we be if all the arts and crafts homes had been torn down when they were no longer in fashion???

Michelle McCarthy
Dear Mayor Landrieu and City Council Members,
There is no reason to demolish a sound building, and fine example of modern architecture. Please maintain this cultural and educational building.
M. McCarthy

martha Kohen
We have lost Riverview High in Sarasota. This cannot continue. We must educate the School Boards!

bonnie slaughter
As an artist and a resident of New Orleans, I feel it would be a travesty to demolish such a fine example of modern architecture. Are all we going to be left is the bad examples?

Alan Higgins
I am signing on behalf of the Recent Past Preservation Network, a national non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the preservation of our modern built environment.
Alan Higgins
Interim President
Recent Past Preservation Network

Lynnette Widder
There must be a better way of accomplishing what is desired besides relegating a part of La.'s cultural heritage to the landfill. Too little remains of the highpoint of American modern architecture.

Dwayne Howard
Dear Mayor Landrieu,
Please do the right thing in preserving an irreplaceable part of New Orlean's built environment and architectural history.
Dwayne Howard

Danilo Macedo
signing on behalf of docomomo brasilia chapter.

Paul Adamson, FAIA
I am a Board member of docomomo_northern california and a former National Board Member of Docomomo_us, branches of the international organization devoted to the documentation and conservation of buildings, sites and neighborhoods of the modern movement. The period between 1920 ad 1970 was witness to the extraordinary advances in Science, Culture and Art that have dome to define our contemporary society. The PHILLIS WHEATLEY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL IN NEW ORLEANS is one of this region's most notable architectural achievements from this particulary creative times in American history. Many significant works of the high modern period are threatened around the world, and it is the obligation of those who value our cultural legacies to look after these still vital elements of our built environment.

John Dixon
In additiion to its significance to the African-American community, this building is an outstanding example of Modern Architecture in America. It was completed in 1954 to an innovative design by the internationally known New Orleans architect Charles Colbert, and it remains a fine work of architecture.

howard mock
be sustainable, be green, be prudent, be wise. there is nothing more wasteful than destroying perfectly useful structures; especially those that have withstood the test and rigors of time and natural disasters.

Abby Inpanbutr
Please reconsider, this is a singular and beautiful building!

John klingman
This is a tragedy that does not need to occur. Has anyone ever heard of adaptive reuse?
This is an internationally recognized historic structure. When will we stop destroying our heritage?
Where are our public officials?

Julian Mutter
We have already lost so much. Let's not add to the disaster!

Roxanne Oliver
The primary school building did not flood after Hurricane Katrina, but remains closed ... so, why tear it down?

John Burgess
Nuff' Respect For African-American Cultural & Heritage Landmarks!!!!

Stevan Caronia, AIA
Please SAVE this rare example of Mid-Century Modern Architecture in the city so rich with a diversity of architecture.

Nancyann Toth
There isn't any reason an institution of learning should be destroyed, especially our young children.

Edward Brown
This building is a true realization of the gumbo that is New Orleans!
If the RSD would prefer not to use this building as a school / amidst a changing demographic, surely an appropriate and beneficial use could be determined. Look at what has been done at Mahalia Jackson Elementry:

Cassandra Howard
Save Phillis Wheatley!

Andrew Sternad
Diverse buildings from all eras make New Orleans great! Our history is our legacy!

Sarah Adkins
Please preserve New Orleans architectural and cultural heritage. The arguments for demolition do not begin outweigh the arguments for preservation.

Edward Hall
This isn't a only a demolition New Orleans will regret 50 years from now, but one New Orleans will regret tomorrow. Save Wheatley!

Steven Montgomery
During our recent visit to New Orleans at Mardi Gras, our group of five architects took time out of the revelry to visit the Wheatley school (our second such visit) and a number of other examples of modern architecture, and would strongly encourage its restoration and reuse (which also happens to be a more sustainable strategy). We first became aware of the school at an exhibit at the Ogden museum on the work of Arthur Davis, and subsequently at a student exhibition at the School of Architecture at Tulane. New Orleans has a strong history of preservation; and its prime examples of regional modernism should fall under that same umbrella of protection. As the new mayor, the city looks to you for enlightened leadership. Please consider saving this structure for future generations. Thank you.

John Klingman
This petition reflects the heartfelt sentiments of a broad range of New Orleanians.
The RSD and FEMA have cynically pitted "progress' against the adaptive reuse of this important historic building.
I could not say it more eloquently than Ms. Montana-LeBlanc.
Let's stop demolishing our history!

Don Gatzke
Cultural preservation requires that the physical record of all ages is preserved and used by successive generations and inhabitants. The genius of New Orleans is the great gumbo of really old, old, sorta old, and new--which will very quickly become the old. Save all of it.
Don Gatzke, former New Orleanian, former dean of Architecture, Tulane University.

Janice Liddell
Good schools that provide nurturing teaching/learning environments for our children are at a premium. They are needed in all areas and fortunately, Phillis Wheatley Elementary School has been able to provide this for our youth for many years. It is an abomination to demolish such a school that has had so many successes, has contributed to the culture and history of our youth and of our community. Indeed such a decision must be rescinded.

Sarah Cloonan
The Phillis Wheatley Elementary School is extremely near and dear to my heart. Designed by legendary New Orleans Architect Charles Colbert its functional and beautiful structure was incredibly forward thinking - allowing a protected shaded space for play while raising the classrooms of the ground plane. Preserving New Orleans' history isn't just about the French Quarter, it encompasses the entire environment that makes this city such an amazing place to live, work and learn.

Lynn Josse
I wish we had Modern structures like this in St. Louis. It would be a shame to demolish something so historically important.

Ellen Weiss
New Orleans has some of the finest, most inventive modern schools in the nation. We must not allow the richness of our nineteenth century heritage, with its unique shotgun-formed city texture, blind us to our splendid twentieth century heritage.

DoCoMoMo Venezuela

Josh Mings
It is time to stop the destruction of mid-century modern architecture in New Orleans. We have already lost several gems, we don't need to lose any more.

Craig Hunt
Building re-use is true sustainability. We can stop the landfill contribution that is building demolition. Let us also reduce our contribution to greenhouse gases and toxins produced by construction processes by making use of what is already there.

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