The Inaugural Renaissance Awards and Preservation Resource Center Heritage Club Luncheon was held on Sept. 18 at the Audubon Tea Room. More than 220 guests converged on the elegant locale to celebrate the great historic architecture of New Orleans and also to recognize the importance of preserving it for future generations.

On hand to provide architectural inspiration and personal accounts of restoration was Charleston, S.C., Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr., who has been in that position for 33 years. Over the past three decades he pioneered many projects concerned with restoring historically significant buildings and watched the progress of his beautiful town of Charleston.

Like New Orleans, Charleston is renowned worldwide for its Southern charm and culture, and also like New Orleans, Charleston suffered the devastation of a major hurricane –– Hurricane Hugo in 1989. In his emotional speech to guests at the luncheon, however, Riley stressed that “Hugo is incomparable to Katrina,” saying that the devastation and destruction wrought by the two hurricanes were on two completely different scales. “The citizens of New Orleans are heroes,” he said. “I offer profound congratulations and admiration to the people of New Orleans.”

Riley discussed the importance of not only rebuilding New Orleans but also preserving the architecture of this “great American city during this historic time.”
He said that New Orleans is still a great place to live and people will still keep coming to New Orleans because of its many historic and lush neighborhoods.

Throughout Riley’s career, he was at the helm for hundreds of rebuilding projects. If a building was run-down, he always opted to restore it, making the community more aesthetically appealing. He recalled countless buildings that were either burned out, abandoned or in unlivable condition. Not only did he restore instead of tearing down, but he also made sure all renovations flowed with the historic and characteristic architecture of Charleston.

Near the end of his speech, Riley insisted that no matter what restoration or preservation is being done, the citizens of New Orleans must be the focus and main beneficiary of the renovation.

Following Riley’s speech, Eve Kidd Crawford, editor of New Orleans Homes & Lifestyles, and Kelley Faucheux, executive vice president and director of sales for Renaissance Publishing LLC, presented the inaugural Renaissance Awards, honoring homeowners who didn’t take the cheap or easy way out when renovating but chose to make the extra effort to really respect the original architecture of their homes.

The honorees, whose winning homes were featured in the June issue of New Orleans Homes & Lifestyles, were Rashida Ferdinand, Ninth Ward; Becca and Gregor Fox, Garden District; Matt Rosendahl, Uptown; Annie and Guy Smith, Broadmoor; and Erich and Jennifer Weishaupt, Mid-City.

The event was sponsored by Home Builders Association of Greater New Orleans, Coburn’s Wholesale Distributors, Republic Beverage Co., Korbel Champagne, Fetzer Vineyards and New Orleans Homes & Lifestyles and served as a fundraiser for the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans.