Friday, October 24, 2014

1948 Cornice Collapse

On April 28, 1948 at 12:20 a.m., a series of old brick and concrete cornices attached to shops located at 526-28-30-32 Royal Street collapsed due to heavy traffic vibrations. The cornices were approximately three feet high, one foot deep, and extended some 60 feet from side to side. When they crumbled, they destroyed the iron balconies and some of the plate glass windows below them. Vieux Carre Commission architect-inspector, Walter Cook Keenan, appeared on the scene to take photographs and spoke to Times-Picayune reporters:

'The mortar used in constructing the buildings was of very poor quality and some of the buildings 200 years old have mortar in them which has never dried. You can pick it out with a lead pencil.'(1)

Eye witnesses reported a noise that sounded like an "explosion" prior to the collapse. No injuries were reported.

This week 808-810  Royal Street experienced a more catastrophic collapse and is currently being demolished (above).

(1)"Collapse of Cornices Laid to Vibration, Houses' Age." The Times-Picayune 29 April 1948.

Images above:  Walter Cook Keenan, photographer. 524-530 Royal Street.  30 April 1948.  Walter Cook Keenan New Orleans Architecture Photographs, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries; K. Rylance, photographer. 808-810 Royal Street. 26 October 2014.

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