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Blake Pontchartrain: New Orleans and the National Register of Historic Places 

Of Louisiana's 1,425 listings, 177 are in the city

click to enlarge The Old Ursuline Convent was among the first places in New Orleans to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Photo courtesy Louisiana Travel/Creative Commons

The Old Ursuline Convent was among the first places in New Orleans to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Hey Blake,

We always hear about the National Register of Historic Places. As a 300-year-old city, I'm sure New Orleans has many places listed, but how many exactly? What is the process for getting on the list?

Dear reader,

  The National Register of Historic Places is administered by the National Park Service, a federal agency within the Department of the Interior. The list was established by Congress in 1966 and now includes more than 90,000 properties nationwide. Prior to 1966, many sites were declared National Historic Landmarks. New Orleans has several of those as well.

  Of Louisiana's 1,425 listings on the National Register of Historic Places, 177 are in Orleans Parish, according to the state Division of Historic Preservation. Among the first local landmarks to be included were the Cabildo, Old Ursuline Convent and Jackson Square. There are more than two dozen historic districts listed, representing neighborhoods such as Mid-City, Broadmoor, Algiers Point, Central City and Esplanade Ridge. Naturally, many French Quarter spots are listed, as well as landmarks such as Gallier Hall, the Saenger, Orpheum and Carver theaters, the Superdome, several cemeteries and the St. Charles Avenue streetcar line. Even the first Schwegmann's supermarket at 2222 St. Claude Ave. (now a Robert Fresh Market) was added in 2014.

  Anyone can nominate a property for the National Register. The process begins with the state Division of Historic Preservation. It oversees nominations to the National Register, and its review board has the final say. A property isn't just added because of its age; it also must have historical or architectural significance. While it does qualify a property for federal tax incentives, a listing on the register doesn't restrict use of the property or preserve it from demolition. In addition, the city's Historic District Landmarks Commission (HDLC) maintains a list of city historic landmarks. The HDLC also oversees the permitting process for renovation or demolition of historic properties. That's in addition to the Vieux Carre Commission, which has similar power in the French Quarter.

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