NEW ORLEANS—Stella Reese began her teaching career at Phillis Wheately Elementary school 30 years ago. It's in shambles since Katrina, but she says it had its share of issues back then. "I was limited to the amount of information I could post throughout the classroom because the side of the classroom was all glass. I was limited to the amount of technology I could use because of that."
Stella says she and other Treme residents are ready for something brand new. "It is a hazard because the children here, they don't have many places to play. They will go in the school yard and use the playground equipment," she says.
Tulane Architecture Professor John Klingman says the community deserves something new, but he and other preservationists are hoping to renovate the building instead. "These schools were designed to be sustainable. They were naturally ventilated. They were elevated for flood protection," he says.
Wheatley is among a handful of Modernist schools slated to be demolished. Preservationists are also trying to save Thomy Lafon and Carver Elementary Schools. "We have little doubt that this building is a great candidate for renovation." Plus, he says it would be cheaper and faster to renovate the school, but Stella is skeptical. "Many people in this neighborhood have fond memories of Phillis Wheatley, it is time for change." She says it's time to create new memories.
If you want to give your input, you can attend a FEMA Historic Preservation Public Meeting, Tuesday, September 22, 6:30 pm 9:00 pm at Sojourner Truth Neighborhood Center, 2200 Lafitte Street.