Constructed in 1897 in the Treme historic district, George O. Mondy Elementary had remained vacant since 2005. Neville Development purchased the abandoned school in 2015 with plans to rehabilitate the building into thirty-five affordable apartments for seniors. Palmisano worked with Neville Development, HCI Architecture, and Roderick A. Fifield Architect, LLC in a Design-Build agreement to deliver the project.
The team converted the original school building into 19 units, restored the dilapidated care taker’s cottage into a single unit shotgun, and constructed a new building with 15 units. The building was carefully reconstructed with significant portions of the original interiors such as trim from the windows and chalkboards, classroom doors, wood flooring, wainscoting, and classroom cabinets restored and damaged elements appropriately replaced.
The property continues to honor the legacy of its namesake, George O. Mondy, the first African-American to serve in the New Orleans Fire Department. It is a revitalized anchor point for the Seventh Ward community.
The building had been renovated multiple times over the years and many historical elements were covered with newer material. The team engaged Roderick A. Fifield Architect, LLC early and often to review and comment on the accuracy of the restored historic elements.
Financing required any new materials utilized be available within a 500-mile radius of the project, and that existing material be reused where possible. Salvaging the the existing material resulted in a nearly 30% savings on the original estimated cost for construction materials. Such materials included a significant amount of window and chalkboard trim for all units, doors and wood flooring, all wainscoting on the first floor. Twelve original cabinets from the classrooms were salvaged and dispersed throughout all floors. Other components were historically replicated, including the stairs, molding, and wood flooring damaged from water and termites.
New construction included an additional building with 15 units. The new building was designed to complement the historic building rather than replicate the original school building. The roof pitch is historically accurate, and the brick, siding and stucco facades are similar to others in the neighborhood. Additionally, the caretaker’s cottage was carefully dismantled, stabilized, and rebuilt into a single unit shotgun.
Louisiana Landmarks Society