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The B.W. Cooper Oral History Project is a Successful Mitigation Outcome In Louisiana

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Prior to Y2K, the Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO) in Louisiana had been exploring ways to revitalize the housing projects under their control. After Hurricane Katrina’s devastating effects on the city, the Housing Authority decided the time was right to address the revitalization of four housing projects, B.W. Cooper (Calliope), Lafitte, C.J. Peete (Magnolia) and St. Bernard (all originally completed in the early 1940s) with separate Memoranda of Agreements (MOA) for each undertaking. These housing projects were considered eligible for the National Register of Historic Places as they were among the first housing projects built in New Orleans through use of funding from the Wagner legislation in 1938. New Orleans was the first American city to receive funding under the Wagner Act for slum clearance and the construction of low-income housing.

In 2007, the LA SHPO worked with the Department of HUD and the ACHP to finalize a MOA to address the redevelopment of the B.W. Cooper Public Housing Complex, originally named the Calliope Housing Development. One of the mitigation strategies that all MOAs shared was the development of an oral history project to celebrate the residents and their cultural experiences at each housing development. This richly documented oral history project was led by Denise L. Johnson Consulting, who worked with members of the current Resident Council of B.W. Cooper, the LA SHPO, students from Dillard University, HANO and many others to produce an excellent recounting of life at the Calliope. The 30-minute documentary film is titled <style=”font-style: italic”=””>To Me It Will Always Be the Calliope and the exhibit is titled <style=”font-style: italic”=””>Beyond these Bricks: A History of the Calliope Housing Development. A link to the exhibit can be found here:http://www.historicpreservationmatters.com/beyondbricks/. A link to the film can be found here:http://www.historicpreservationmatters.com/calliope/