Push to Save Big Charity



By: Clancy DuBos

Several preservationist groups have joined forces to try to save Big Charity, the historic, art deco-style hospital built by Huey Long to serve the state’s poor.

The hospital shut down soon after Katrina, and efforts to reopen it have been quashed by the state. Meanwhile, preservationists worry about what will happen to the historic building. The National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Louisiana Trust for Historic Preservation, the Preservation Resource Center and the Louisiana Landmarks Society have joined the Foundation for Historical Louisiana (FHL) to save the iconic edifice. In the just-ended legislative session, lawmakers passed a resolution (HCR 89) authorizing the foundation to hire an architectural firm to conduct “an independent assessment of Big Charity to determine if it can be restored,” according to foundation executive vice chair Sandra L. Stokes. In a letter dated June 25, Stokes notes one problem with the legislation: the “authorization” did not come with any “appropriation” — meaning there’s no money in the new state budget to pay the reviewing architectural firm. “Without a professional study this building is in peril,” she writes. “The FHL must have donor support to fund the assessment.” Donations to the foundation’s Charity Hospital Fund can be made via the group’s Web site www.fhl.org.

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