As huge crowds descend on the French Quarter this week for the free music festival that bears the area's name, we remember Jacob and Mary Morrison, the husband-and-wife team who dedicated much of their lives to preserving the area for future generations. They moved to the Quarter in 1939, a time when the neighborhood was almost a slum, according to many accounts.
Just two years earlier, the Louisiana Legislature created the Vieux Carre Commission, and in 1941 the state Supreme Court granted the agency the authority to enforce building rules in the French Quarter. That set the stage for the efforts of the Morrisons and other citizen activists, who battled to preserve the delicate balance of life and business in the Quarter.
Jacob Morrison, a lawyer who provided legal counsel during many neighborhood battles, was a co-founder of the Vieux Carre Property Owners, Residents & Associates group, which remains an important voice. He literally wrote the book on preservation legislation, publishing the first national book on the subject in 1957. A half-brother of Mayor Chep Morrison, Jacob died in 1974. Mary remained active in French Quarter causes until her death in 1999.