The E-Sylum:  Volume 8, Number 38, September 4, 2005, Article 2


The old U.S. Mint building in New Orleans suffered damage
from Hurricane Katrina this week, but news accounts were very
sketchy and it may be some time before the outside world learns
what has happened. If any of our readers learn some news,
please let us know. The city is inundated with flooding,
electricity may be out for months, and all residents have been
ordered to evacuate. Our thoughts are with the victims and
their families.

An August 29th Associated Press story reported that "In New
Orleans' historic French Quarter of Napoleonic-era buildings
with wrought-iron balconies, water pooled in the streets from
the driving rain, but the area appeared to have escaped the
catastrophic flooding that forecasters had predicted.

On Jackson Square, two massive oak trees outside the 278-
year-old St. Louis Cathedral came out by the roots, ripping
out a 30-foot section of ornamental iron fence and straddling
a marble statue of Jesus Christ, snapping off only the thumb
and forefinger of his outstretched hand."

The old New Orleans Mint building is near Jackson Square.
A National Historic Landmark, the building has served since
1981 as part of the the Louisiana State Museum system.
Since Monday, when Katrina touched land, web sites for the
Museum have been offline.

The Newhouse News Service reported:
"Remarkably, the French Quarter seemed largely untouched.

The neighborhood was among the last to lose power as the
storm strengthened shortly after dawn. After its passage,
pedestrians bought beer through walk-up windows and guests
loitered on second-floor balconies.

Among the only obvious signs of damage: a portion of a wall
collapsed exposing part of the third floor interior of Antoine's
Restaurant, and the U.S. Mint appeared to suffer heavy roof

To read the full story: Full Story

Damage to the Mint building was reported in different ways
by the various new agencies. Here are a couple reports:

"Winds wrested the cooper roof from the Old U.S. Mint on
the eastern edge of the French Quarter and tossed the twisted
metal across several nearby streets." Full Story

"The stately U.S. Mint in the French Quarter, once seized by
the Confederate army, is missing part of its roof. No one knows
what has become of the artifacts inside." Full Story

By Tuesday evening, however, the situation in New Orleans
had worsened considerably. The following quotes are from
Associated Press accounts:

"A full day after the Big Easy thought it had escaped Katrina's
full fury, two levees broke and spilled water into the streets
Tuesday, swamping an estimated 80 percent of the bowl-shaped,
below-sea-level city, inundating miles and miles of homes and
rendering much of New Orleans uninhabitable for weeks or

"On New Orleans' Canal Street, the main thoroughfare in the
central business district, looters sloshed through hip-deep water
and ripped open the steel gates on the front of several clothing
and jewelry stores.

"The looting is out of control. The French Quarter has been
attacked," said Jackie Clarkson, a New Orleans councilwoman.
"We're using exhausted, scarce police to control looting when they
should be used for search and rescue."

To read the full story, see: Full Story

The American Association of Museums web site is a resource
for information about damage to museums in the areas affected
by Katrina:

"(as of 9-2). Kacey Hill, Public Information Director, states that
early reports indicate that the Louisiana State Museum's 9 historic
French Quarter properties have sustained varying degrees of
modest to severe damage as a result of Hurricane Katrina.
Curatorial staff has conducted a preliminary survey of both
facilities and collections for immediate stabilization purposes.
Continuing assessment of conditions is underway, but it is too
soon to fully realize the extent of the site repairs and collection
treatment needed. Museum officials have received numerous
calls from other institutions offering assistance, and look forward
to accepting these generous offers in the weeks and months ahead. "

To read all museum reports, see: Full Story

The above report is vague enough to drive a truck through, but
it's the only official communication I've seen so far about the state
of the old Mint building. Again, if any of you have additional
information, please share it with us. Also, please share with us
any recollections you have of visits to the building. -Editor

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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