Annette Sisco column for March 14, 2013

Historic homes in spotlight

By Annette Sisco

Community News Editor

The New York Times ran a “Frugal Traveler” column recently that offered visitors a luscious list of New Orleans museums, clubs and other attractions to enjoy without spending a lot of money.

The challenge, sighed author Seth Kugel, is fitting it all in.

But we knew that.

In our city, beauty is always nearby. In fact, as Kugel observed, sometimes it is literally down the street.

He writes: “The historic houses that pepper the city are (a) type of free art — from the brightly colored, largely fixed-up, gorgeously detailed shotgun-style homes in the Bywater to Creole houses in the Treme to the elegant balconies of the French Quarter.”

You don’t need to go to a museum to be surrounded by art here. And it doesn’t cost a dime to admire, or even covet, New Orleans’ bungalows, shotguns, camelbacks and Victorian mansions.

But fixing up those old houses is another matter.

The Preservation Resource Center exists to save that amazing architectural heritage and make sure we don’t take it for granted.

Since it was founded in 1974, the PRC has restored 1,400 properties.

Its mission of education and advocacy has saved many more by helping homeowners appreciate the “built environment,” as it’s called.

The nonprofit offers classes to encourage home ownership and historically authentic renovations.

It reaches out with programs for students and its magazine, Preservation in Print, to help citizens appreciate the local architecture.

And, the PRC’s African American Heritage Preservation Program has saved three houses of early jazz legends and placed markers at 48.

This Friday evening, the PRC celebrates its work and generates support from the community with a favorite local benefit, the Julia Jump.

The Jump will be held at 6:30 p.m. at Mardi Gras World’s River City Ballroom, 1380 Port of New Orleans Place.

“It was originally held on Julia Street, when it started back in 1974, right there on the street,” said Lynn Long with the PRC. “Of course it has grown and grown. It helps to support all their programs.”

The Jump features live music by the Big Easy Jazz Band and Louisiana Spice, food from our best restaurants, and a silent auction.

Chevron, Bisso Towboat Co., Inc. and Fidelis Continental LLC are supporting the PRC event.

For tickets or more information, call (504) 581-7032 or go to http://www.prcno.org.

Tickets start at $75.

Because New Orleans’ streetscape is more than houses.

It’s our heritage.

Annette Sisco is community news editor. She can be reached at asisco@theadvocate.com.