The Alexandria Historic Preservation Commission is very proud to present our March 2013 Preservation in Progress award not to a single homeowner, but to an entire neighborhood! The area encompassing the proposed Alexandria Post-War Suburbs Historic District is roughly bounded by Hynson Bayou, Elliott Street, Texas Avenue, and Darby Street. Noted for its concentration of Ranch, Contemporary, and Wrightian residential architecture, a National Register nomination for the district will be presented to the State Review Committee on March 21st in Baton Rouge.
Developed after World War II, with most homes constructed from 1945 to 1963, the Alexandria Post-War District consists of 149 structures, 135 of which maintain their original architectural character and “contribute” to the district. Many of the homes were speculatively built, while others, such as the Freedman-Roach house on Kimball, represent the high-style design of an architect.
The predominant architectural type in the district is the Ranch house, which is typically a one-story dwelling with a low-hung hip or gable roof and wide overhanging eaves, creating a horizontal emphasis. Other common elements include planter boxes and aluminum ribbon windows and/or picture windows. The carport becomes an integral feature of home design, finding its place under the main roof of the home rather than in a rear, separate structure. There is also a large concentration of Contemporary houses that stand out as individual works of art. Contemporary homes feature an absence of architectural ornamentation, a strong rectangular and horizontal feel, ribbon windows, a preference for flat surfaces, the use of slender posts and beams, and a strong connection to the outdoors. Both Ranch and Contemporary houses can contain a strong Frank Lloyd Wright influence in their natural approach to design and use of materials and horizontal nature. Many homes in the district feature design elements in keeping with the great architect’s influence and are thus considered “Wrightian”. All of these styles together can be classified as Mid-Century Modern architecture and represent the architecture of our nation’s recent past.
The proposed Alexandria Post-War Suburbs Historic District will be presented before the State National Register Review Committee on March 21st in Baton Rouge. The district is highly expected to pass State review and move on to a final review by the Secretary of the Interior in Washington, D.C. Follow AHCP on Facebook for updates on the proposed district nomination. Within a few weeks, the Alexandria Post-War Suburbs Historic District may very well be the first Mid-Century Modern National Register Historic District in the State of Louisiana!
Supportive residents are excited about the nomination and have formed a neighborhood group, which plans to attend the state review meeting, host neighborhood gatherings, and plan events to encourage community. Yet again, preservation becomes a powerful tool that fosters community and develops a sense of place. The architecture of the Alexandria Post-War Suburbs Historic District clearly reflects the mid-century American hope of future progress, a relevant reminder for the present-day.