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shotgun             1906                     Treme                    Louisiana

Fifteen feet wide, sixty seven feet long, four rooms in a row so you can see out the back when standing at the front door. Live oaks, fig and orange trees, sugar cane, 14 wild roosters, hens who lay eggs in the chain link, stinging caterpillars, wasps, termites, locusts, fire ants, leaks, lighting, a car crash, break-ins and

the heat. 

Gloves melt together and elbows drip a constant sweat. Paint gums up on contact and everything sticks to your skin.


But big smiles, cowboys, marching bands and Mr. Okra balance the gumbo and set the stage for a complete renovation off the Broad Street corridor.  


Hurricane Katrina flood waters only lapped at the underside of the house but the entire bath had crumbled through the floor and the plaster had failed necessitating a complete gutting and re-build. 

Due to the humidity the plaster keys had failed and much of it collapsed between the walls forming large bricks behind the base boards. Since the base boards also provide stability to the 10' walls, removing them is not straightforward so the plaster lumps were tricky to remove (and heavy). Years of varnish, paint, general corrosion and studs built over the base boards also inhibited the removal of the base and lumps but perseverance paid off. 

All windows were restored in-situ to original condition.


Gorgeous French doors along the lake side of the house were saved - dipped in an alkaline solution to strip. All glass was removed, re-inserted, replaced and glazed. 

Three generations of wall treatments were uncovered - the original lathe and plaster technique; a rare in - between - stage plaster rock where the bath and kitchen shared a wall; metal lathe for repairs. Walls were covered with 12' x 4' drywall over the lathe since along with the base provides stability (long, narrow, tall houses of this proportion will torque otherwise).

A huge open gas flame cast iron heater was unhooked from the line and pulled out from under the house (by a pick up truck...) 


Until World War II, similar colors, schemes, and placements are discovered in the fanciest and the most humble of houses in New Orleans; colors continue to reflect the traditions established in the 18th and 19th centuries - the French blue, tan and pale ink. Verdigris green and a red on the orange side. Exteriors had a white body with green shutters and doors and red mullions (to hide the pigeon poop) - generally, the most ubiquitous color scheme in America to date. 

Remodels have brought back over 40,000 houses in New Orleans since 2010. Most of the interiors have been stripped of the vestiges of the past and replaced with cheap, modern materials.Sometimes it is necessary however, the painted floor (upper right photo below) was simply cleaned up so the rare painted boards would remain. Future owners likely polished the design away.


Cleaned up and returned to service - white with an ice blue tint was used on the trim to add to the feel of cool in the hot environment while much of the other wood was left raw. All windows and transoms were operable in the end and offered a fantastic cross breeze when opened; an on-demand electric hot water heater was installed; the bathroom was rebuilt complete with a claw foot tub. Antiqued bronze fixtures and dark brown switches and outlets with white covers added an industrial feel to compliment the original hardware that was re-used when possible. 


Daily, for 9 months, someone showed up to chat, help, seek work or sell something. Thank you, one and all. 

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