At a historic restoration project site, you usually don’t expect to hear words like “pultruded fiberglass,” “high density PVC” and “permacast polymer.” That’s your first clue that the Comeback House in Holy Cross is not the usual historic restoration.
Restoration of the heavily damaged house provides an emblem of the possible in the Preservation Resource Center’s efforts in the neighborhood. But it will also provide a showcase for products featured at the Traditional Building Exhibition and Conference in New Orleans this October.

Product PlacementLouvered colonial shutters. Photo courtesy of Atlantic Premium Shutters.

Among the items exhibitors have donated for the project are the latest in imitation architectural features. These include louvered shutters made entirely of synthetic materials from Atlantic Shutters, as well as synthetic columns and railings from HB&G Building Products. The project will employ another PVC-type product for porch decking.

It shouldn’t look like a plastic house, though, says Aimee Charbonneau, historic building specialist for the PRC and project manager for 4804 Dauphine St. “The PVC products look more realistic now, at least the higher end stuff,” she says.
For most historic restoration projects, Charbonneau say, “We want to retain whatever fabric is there.” But in this case, much of the house’s architectural integrity had already been compromised by bad renovations. That made it a good candidate for new materials.
 
Product Placement
Hamlin (Colonial Revival) light. Photo courtesy of Rejuvenation.

“We view this as a laboratory where we can figure out where we can use the products,” Charbonneau says.

Terracotta roof tiles made to look like slate are among the products that Charbonneau finds most striking. Called Celadon Ceramic Slate, the tiles carry a 75-year warranty. They’re being donated by an Ohio company called Ludowici Roof Tile. Getting the roof right will be critical at 4804 Dauphine St., Charbonneau says. “It’s a corner lot, so the roof is very prominent.”

One product will help to minimize the intrusion of an absolute necessity in modern New Orleans: air conditioning. A special “small duct high velocity” HVAC system will run air conditioning through flexible ducts that are just a couple of inches wide. Unico System is the provider.

Product PlacementPlumstone celadon ceramic slate. Photo courtsey of Ludowici Roof Tiles.

But not all of the products are cutting edge or new to New Orleans. For example, Sinker Logs of Louisiana will provide heart of pine flooring from sunken logs. Rejuvenation will provide period lighting fixtures and door hardware.

Tile Source will provide floor tiles in Victorian-era style.
And a local standby, Bevolo Gas and Electric Lights will provide gas lanterns.  
 
When all of the products are employed together the result will be “an authentic restoration,” says Eric Peterson, director of the Traditional Building show.

Product PlacementPutman exterior door hardware. Photo courtesy of Rejuvenation.

As for energy efficiency, the barge-board house will take insulation in the attic and the appliances will carry a high energy rating. However, Charbonneau says the greenest aspect of the project will be the restoration itself. “We feel the best thing environmentally is keeping the existing house, and using the existing materials, as
opposed to demolishing the house and putting those materials in a landfill.”

Product PlacementGovenor Gas Light. Photo courtesy of Bevelo Gas and Electric Lights.

The “Comeback House” at 4804 Dauphine St. is located in the historic Holy Cross neighborhood—the riverside section of the Lower 9th Ward. Hurricane Katrina toppled a pecan tree into its roof, and the levee break at the Industrial Canal flooded it.

The driving forces behind the project are the Preservation Resource Center, through its Operation Comeback renovation program, and the Traditional Building Exhibition and Conference, which will be in New Orleans, October 17 to 20 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. The house will be used for educational tours during the event and showcase products on display at the exhibition.

Restore Media LLC produces the Traditional Building show, which will feature seminars, workshops and a trade show for historic building product vendors. The event typically draws architects, designers, builders, craftsmen, preservationists, historic homeowners and developers. Restore Media publishes the magazines Old House Journal, New Old House, Traditional Building and Period Homes.

For more information, go to:www.traditionalbuildingshow.com,www.prcno.org or call 581-7032

The Material World
Listed are some of the products used in the
Comeback House:
Shutters (Louvered Colonial shutters-pultruded fiberglass and/or high-density PVC): Atlantic Premium Shutters,www.atlanticpremiumshutters.com

Kitchen sink/bathtub: Copperhead Sinks,www.copperheadsinks.com

Columns and railings (Permacast wood and fiber reinforced polymer products): HB&G Building Products,www.hbgcolumns.com

Roof tiles (Celadon ceramic slate): Ludowici Roof Tile,www.ludowici.com

Lighting fixtures and door hardware: Rejuvenation,www.rejuvenation.com

Bath tiles (Victorian ceramic floor tiles): Tile Source,www.tile-source.com

HVAC system (small duct, high-velocity system): Unico System,www.unicosystem.com

Kitchen/laundry appliances (Energy Star rated): Whirlpool,www.whirlpool.com

Interior/exterior trim (exterior fascia, porch ceilings, interior moldings): WindsorOne,www.windsorone.com

Electrical: Bradley Electrical

Insulation: Johns Manville,www.jm.com

Gas lights: Bevelo Gas and Electric Lights,www.bevolo.com

Wood floor: (Heart of pine salvaged from sunken logs): Sinker Logs of La.,www.sinker-logs.com