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The Lower Garden District

Cheryl Gerber

The Lower Garden District Historic District is characterized by sidewalks bordered with leafy trees shading Greek Revival and Italianate mansions set back from the sidewalk behind ornamental fences of wood or cast iron. There are also plenty of singles, doubles and cottages, many of them along Constance and Annunciation streets, which are excellent examples of late-19th-century shotgun houses. This neighborhood was first laid out in 1809 by the surveyor Barthelemy Lafon and is bounded roughly by Jackson Avenue and Prytania, Erato and Chippewa streets.

Initial development of the Lower Garden District was spurred by the construction of the New Orleans and Carrollton railroads in 1833, when many substantial plantation-style houses –– most of which were two stories –– were constructed by such noted local architects as Henry Howard, Lewis Reynolds, James and William Freret and James Gallier Sr. and Jr.

The most significant house type in this neighborhood is the side-hall double-galleried residence, such as the Wilson House at 1741 Coliseum St., built in 1847, with both Doric and Ionic columns. Along Magazine Street, in the 1400 block, are other examples of identical double-galleried houses.

The Lower Garden District was planned as a residential development facing a large park, Coliseum Square. The streets leading into the square were named for the nine Greek muses, and a classical school was planned for the neighborhood but was never constructed.

The neighborhood further developed during the 1840s, ‘50s and ‘60s, and this later development saw Greek Revival and Italianate villas under construction beside the large plantation homes that were still standing from an earlier era.

Commercial uses were interspersed with residential, as was the custom of the Creoles, and many retail shops still exist side-by-side with the homes today. Along Magazine Street, especially in the 1800 through the 2000 blocks, there is a fine collection of masonry commercial buildings built in rows, one adjacent to another. A number have deep galleries supported by iron columns.

The 20th century saw the introduction of a new building type to the district, the apartment house. An example of this is the Ysabel at 1215 St. Andrew St.

The Lower Garden District was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972, and its association was the first to host an annual Christmas thank you party for the policemen and firemen who serve the neighborhood.
 

The Terraces on Tulane

The Terraces on Tulane, 3615 Tulane Ave., is a 200-unit affordable housing community for seniors that opened in Mid-City in January 2010. Built by the Volunteers of America, or VOA, the community replaces Forest Towers East, a former VOA community badly damaged by Katrina. More than 60 former residents of Forest Towers East returned to live in The Terraces on Tulane, and for many of its residents, this was a joyous homecoming and a chance to reconnect with old neighbors and friends.

The $41 million project was funded with about $31 million in tax credit equity from JPMorgan Capital Corp. and the National Affordable Housing Trust. JPMorgan also provided a permanent loan, and the Major League Baseball Players Trust contributed $250,000. The complex was also funded by Gulf Opportunity, or GO, Zone housing tax credits and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. As a result, residents pay no more than 30 percent of their income toward rent.

The one-bedroom, one-bath apartments have fully equipped kitchens, laundry facilities on each floor and on-site Meals on Wheels, and pets are allowed. This gated community includes a computer lab and other amenities for residents such as health and medical services and planned social, educational and recreational activities. There is an on-site beauty shop, a fitness center, a business center with computer training and a garage and covered parking, plus there is easy access to public transportation. Residents must be 62 or older, and Section 8 is accepted. For more information, Terraces on Tulane may be reached at 888/784-1532.

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