The looting continues in New Orleans, only this time thieves aren’t after sneakers and flatscreen tv’s. Their new prize? Cornices, window shutters, and other architectural ornaments.
On some blocks, the human buzzards have hit nearly every house, picking them clean of the authentic details that make New Orleans homes known the world over: doors, cornices, brackets, shutters, wrought iron fencing, decorative gingerbread work on porches — anything that will fetch a few bucks on a black market that police and even preservationists don’t fully understand. In many cases the thieves, sometimes posing as contractors, have invaded the homes to lift the interior fixtures as well, including the giant pocket doors that bisect shotgun parlors.
Typically, the shops that buy and sell these artifacts copy the drivers license of everyone who they buy from, as a way to track that person down if the item sold is found to be stolen. Sadly, detail theft isn’t new in New Orleans, and I know people who have benefitted from this safety measure. Unfortunately, it seems that now these resell shops have potentially so much to gain, post-hurricane, that some of them are suspected of breaking their own rules.
It’s these details that give New Orleans’ houses much of their charm and character. Unfortunately, in neighbhorhoods like the lower 9th ward, many residents just can’t afford to restore their lost details.