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Historic Vieux Carré Commission in New Orleans Celebrates 75th Anniversary

Media Contact:

Terri Kaupp
Peter A. Mayer Public Relations
504.450.5848 mobile

Rachel Robinson
Friends of the Vieux Carré Commission

Historic Vieux Carré Commission in New Orleans Celebrates 75th Anniversary
Preservation organization has kept French Quarter’s character and charm intact for the world to enjoy

NEW ORLEANS (August 22, 2011) – In 1936, the country was in the midst of the Great Depression, and very much like today, the economy was the nation’s primary focus. But in New Orleans, a group of people recognized the importance of the city’s historic architectural center and formed the Vieux Carré Commission (VCC) to protect the district known universally today as the French Quarter.

The French Quarter had decayed into tenement status, and over time public officials had seriously debated tearing down some of the historic structures that define Jackson Square, including the Upper Pontalba building and the Cabildo, where the Louisiana Purchase was signed in 1803. The rescue of the Quarter from obliteration is a testament to the vision and dedication of the professional body charged with safeguarding its unique architectural character – the VCC.

Now, 75 years later, with the French Quarter preserved as a vital, living neighborhood and reborn as a National Historic Landmark, the VCC will celebrate its diamond anniversary in November as it continues to serve as the primary entity that protects and preserves the Vieux Carré’s invaluable and historic architectural heritage. The Vieux Carré is the second oldest historic preservation district in America after the Preservation Society of Charleston which formed in 1931, and both predate the National Trust for Historic Preservation founded in 1949.

“The French Quarter and New Orleans are synonymous, and it’s impossible to think of one without the other,” says Vieux Carré Commission Director Lary Hesdorffer. “When people around the world talk about New Orleans, the Vieux Carré is what they know best. Without the French Quarter, New Orleans ceases to be the unique American city it is.”

The historic district largely remains intact because of the VCC’s oversight, and examples of historic architecture grace the streets because of the important design guidelines and City codes the agency enforces. Unfortunately, some historic buildings were lost forever when parts of the French Quarter were temporarily and permanently removed from the commission’s jurisdiction. Those losses only reinforce the VCC’s importance to New Orleans, but there are challenges.

“As a small, city-operated organization there is only funding to run normal day-to-day operations,” says Darryl Berger, Founding President of the Friends of the Vieux Carré Commission (FVCC), the VCC’s non-profit volunteer support organization. “The importance and scope of the VCC’s mission is massive, and funding plays a key role in our ability to take on special projects and studies that will help further the VCC mission.”

To that end, the FVCC was formed to support and assist the VCC in its charge to preserve and protect the quaint and distinctive character of the French Quarter.

That is especially important, Berger says, considering that the French Quarter is the lifeblood of the city’s $5 billion tourism industry, which employs 70,000 people and generates $225 million in direct tax revenues for the city – more than any other industry.

To commemorate this special anniversary, the FVCC in partnership with the Louisiana State Museum will host a public event at the Cabildo to recognize those who have been committed to the preservation of the French Quarter and who have supported the VCC and its mission. To help generate much needed support for the organization, the FVCC will host a patron party and gala at Antoine’s, a culinary landmark that has served its legendary French Creole cuisine since 1840, making it New Orleans’ oldest restaurant. Both events will be held on Wednesday, November 2, 2011, and IberiaBank is the presenting sponsor.

“Like New Orleans, the French Quarter has an amazing survival story, having been victim to fires, neglect and hurricanes,” Hesdorffer says. “But it’s been rebuilt and preserved as a treasure that New Orleans shares with visitors every day without compromising its remarkable history. We’re determined to keep this legacy alive and vibrant.”

The Friends of the Vieux Carré Commission is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation that supports and fosters the charge of the Vieux Carré Commission in order to protect and preserve the French Quarter’s invaluable architectural heritage and distinctive environment. For more information, visit us at or call us at 504-342-4760. Become a fan on Facebook by clicking here.