BR Real Estate Battle In Mid City: Should You Develop? Or Preserve?

(NBC Local 33 and Fox 44) “To lose this house in Baton Rouge after losing the Pennington House is criminal,” says former homeowner Ann Singleton. Now the mid-century style home on Country Club Drive in Mid-City could possibly be destroyed. Singleton and her husband owned the home for 20 years and sold it last month to Jason Laubscher, who lives nearby. He then transferred ownership over by his development company.

“The house is architecturally significant because in that it is the only house outside of South Florida and the Caribbean ever designed by Wahl Synder,” Singleton says.The home was built in 1957 by architect Hamilton Crawford. Singleton is now packing up her home and has to be out by Sunday. Now comes the regret. “We still would not have sold to someone was going to destroy this house.”

Retired economist Tom Bartkiewicz says over the years he’s seen many houses with unique designs torn down.“I’ve been fearful of this for a long time, because I knew this house is just an attraction for the developers,” he explains.Now, Bartkiewicz says he working to have homes built by Crawford in the same neighborhood and hopes to have it listed as an historic district.

Maybe I'm the wrong person to express an opinion here. I recall a similar situation with a historical radio station building location in downtown BR, where WFMF and WJBO were housed in the 70's and 80's. The downstairs was modernized to a more modern office space, but upstairs? Pure gold. Art deco style with old square shaped frosted glass with the curved walls from the 40's. There was even a "QUIET" sign inlaid into a classic marble floor in front of the old reception area. It was so a truly showcase, and I thoroughly enjoyed working there. A few years after the Manship family sold their radio properties to another local owner, he sold the property. The building was eventually leveled, and the space now serves as a parking lot.

DJ EDITORIAL: Progress is one thing; BUT I do not personally believe it should come at the expense of destroying history. So I asked my brother–Guy Carwile –who is an author and Professor of Architecture at Louisiana Tech. He says, “Sadly, even if a building is on the National Register and has been designated as a National Historic Landmark, that does not protect it from being modified or torn down.” Sad indeed.

Scotty Mac

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