Much thanks to our friend and colleague Patty Gay, who has served as the Executive Director of the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans since 1980. After four decades of tireless efforts promoting the preservation, restoration and revitalization of New Orleans’ historic architecture, Ms Gay has decided to retire. Her passion, dedication and commitment to preservation efforts in our city have helped ensured that our city’s heritage will be treasured for generations to come.
One recent EDR experience with Patty and the PRC exemplified the pragmatic yet principled approach she used to accomplish historic objectives. At the old U.S. Marine Hospital adjacent to Children’s Hospital on Tchoupitoulas Street, EDR was asked by Children’s to develop a master plan for expanding the hospital onto the historic site. After much programming and planning with the client, it was determined that in order to expand the hospital, the historic structures immediately adjacent to the hospital would need to be demolished. If that were allowed to happen, Children’s would be able to repurpose the majority of the historic buildings on the property, thus ensuring the long term preservation of the campus.
There was much debate about this issue, centered around the question, “what constitutes the greater good for the campus?”. Some in the historic preservation community held fast to an “all-or-nothing” proposition that all buildings as well as the complete site must be maintained in total, even if it meant losing the opportunity for an institution such as Children’s to restore the buildings and put them back into service. Ms Gay and the PRC advocated a more pragmatic approach, a middle-ground in which the values of both the historic community and the private sector could be mediated. In the PRC’s February 2015 Preservation in Print cover-page article about the campus, Ms Gay personally endorsed the proposed renovations, saying “It is exciting to think of the possibilities that lie ahead: an expanded Children’s Hospital, restoration and preservation of many historic buildings and the landscape, and new construction that complements the whole.” The PRC’s endorsement of the proposed master plan galvanized community support for the project, ultimately leading to its approval. Two years later, the historic buildings on the Marine Hospital are undergoing the promised restorations, and the campus is once again a vibrant element of the health care community.
Much thanks, Patty, for your many years of dedicated service. We wish you the best!