New Orleans a Natural for Traditional Building Show

Few cities appeal to traditional builders like New Orleans. There's nothing quite like an intricate piece of gingerbread to set a carpenter's heart to racing or a lacy bit of ironwork to excite a welder.

The opportunity to feast on our historic architecture explains, in part, why 5,000 architects, designers, contractors, developers, planners, building owners and the like will land in the city next week for The Traditional Building Exhibition and Conference.

But the group also is pulled by the possibilities of rebuilding. Where else are so many houses of so many sorts going up these days? The theme of the meeting, which is the only national trade show and conference of its kind, is "Restore, Rebuild and Revitalize."

To that end, the conference will open its doors not only to the experts, but also to the residents of New Orleans. Old-House Journal magazine and Old-House Journal's New Old House magazine are sponsoring a two-day series of seminars for those who own historic homes, are building "new" old homes or just like old houses. Topics range from sash repair and flood rehabilitation to plastering and paint selection. A one- or two-day residential pass also includes admission to the exhibit hall, where 200-plus booths will showcase home products as well as host live demonstrations of building products and techniques.

In addition, conference planners teamed up with the Preservation Resource Center's Operation Comeback rebuilding program and Louisiana architect David Dillard to show how historic restoration is done. They've renovated an 1870s double shotgun house on Dauphine Street in Holy Cross that was split almost in half when a pecan tree toppled on it during Hurricane Katrina.

The home, which had been carved up over the years, is being returned to use as a single-family residence. Renovators have restored its historic look while also using cutting-edge products to make it wind-resistant and climate-appropriate. Shuttles will ferry registrants between the conference at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and the Operation Comeback house.



"Operation Comeback" Demonstration House Tour,

8-11:15 a.m.

Buses take registrants to a newly renovated 1870s shotgun double in Holy Cross.

The Pennywise New Old House,

8:30-9:30 a.m.

Architect Russell Versaci talks about economical new construction that captures historic character, including details on plan book designs, prefab construction and lower-cost, high-performance building materials.

Designing New Old Houses for the Gulf Coast,

10-11:30 a.m.

Christine G.H. Franck, a New York-based designer and educator specializing in contemporary classicism, talks about how to design a traditional house for contemporary lifestyles and climate.

Historic Windows: Repair and Care,

2:30-4 p.m.

Pennsylvania window expert Duffy Hoffman teaches how to restore wooden window frames.

Land Surveys and Clear Titles,

4:15-5:15 p.m.

A panel of experts will share insights about some of the unique survey circumstances found in the French Quarter and clear titles, a problem for some post-Katrina properties.

Architectural Review Process in Historic Districts,

4:15-5:15 p.m.

North Carolina architectural historian Diana Jarvis Godwin talks about the architectural review process in historic neighborhoods.

The Architectural Geography of the French Quarter,

5:30-6:30 p.m.

Richard Campanelle, from the Center for Bioenvironmental Research at Tulane and Xavier universities, gives a keynote address on the importance of geological New Orleans and the special architectural geography of the French Quarter.

OCT. 20

"Operation Comeback" Demonstration House Tour,

8-11:15 a.m.

Buses take registrants to a newly renovated 1870s shotgun double in Holy Cross.

Designing the New Old House in Historic Neighborhoods,

8:30-9:30 a.m.

Residential designer Lynn Taylor and Historic Zoning Administrator Tim Walker, both of Nashville, teach residents how to analyze house styles, work with design review boards and understand historic exteriors.

Advice for Dealing with Flooded Structures,

8:30-9:30 a.m.

A panel of experts talks about post-flood steps for the home, how structures ventilate and how to bring flooded houses back to live-in conditions.

The Painter and Plasterer,

11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.

Veteran painters and plasterers offer straight talk about painting and plaster, from tools to timing, in this live demonstration on the exhibit hall floor.

Interior Design Solutions for Victorian Era Buildings,

2:30-3:30 p.m.

Wisconsin designer Merri Cvetan talks about the six-year process of returning an 1890s Victorian home in her state to its original grandeur.



WHAT: Seminars on traditional home-building and an exhibition showcasing products and techniques

WHERE: Ernest N. Morial Convention Center

WHEN: Exhibit-hall hours are Thursday and Friday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; and Oct. 20, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

ADMISSION: The Residential Series includes admission to the exhibit hall, a special series of seminars, the keynote address and a tour of a restored Operation Comeback house in Holy Cross. A one-day pass is $109; a two-day pass is $149, available at the Convention Center. Children under 12 are not allowed. Other packages and seminars are offered for contractors and other experts, as are continuing education credits.