Working with the Neighborhood Story Project and Bethany Rogers, Small Center helped produce the book, Cornerstones: Celebrating the Everyday Monuments and Gathering Places of New Orleans Neighborhoods, which pays homage to seven local landmarks. Following the book release. Small Center created a Cornerstones website to record additional ‘community cornerstones’ that were identified by New Orleanians as important spaces.
January 2008–December 2008
The federal levee failure and flood following Hurricane Katrina destroyed tens of thousands of homes and gathering spaces across the city. Beyond just physical damage, 100,000 African-American citizens were displaced from New Orleans, and with them, their stories, social networks, and personal histories. As recovery efforts picked up, there was an additional threat to the people, places, and culture that have defined New Orleans with the rapidly changing demographics across the city.
Small Center Engagement
In partnership with the Neighborhood Story Project, Small Center developed a publication called Cornerstones: Celebrating the Everyday Monuments and Gathering Places of New Orleans Neighborhoods, which features seven local landmarks, from bars and restaurants to backyard museums and barbershops. Through interviews, site mapping, architectural drawings, and photos, the publication illustrates the range of ways these specific sites, and neighborhood places in general, are important to New Orleans. As part of the book release New Orleanians were encouraged to nominate additional cornerstones that tell the story of their community, or serve as neighborhood landmarks. Each month a new Cornerstone was celebrated with a neighborhood party and postcard series, and those nominations populated the Cornerstones website.
The Neighborhood Story Project (NSP) is a collaborative ethnography and publishing organization in partnership with the University of New Orleans. Since 2004, they have worked with public schools, grassroots organizations such as benevolent associations, community museums, Mardi Gras Indians, and other institutions to create books and other printed material that supports their mission: “Our stories told by us.” Their goal is to help people be the authors of their own stories in ways that will create relevant literature, and shares the profit of both social and economic capital that comes from the booksales.
After the publication of Cornerstones, Small Center and Cornerstones were asked by community members of the Candlelight Lounge in the Historic Treme neighborhood to document and position the significance of the barroom within the neighborhood and greater New Orleans, so that efforts to sustain the barroom could be well supported. The Candlelight Lounge is the only longtime barroom and live music venue still open in the Historic Treme, a community celebrated for its jazz and performance culture. Cornerstones had documented other sites in New Orleans with an uncertain future, such as the Mother-In-Law Lounge after Mrs. Antoinette K-Doe passed away and the Deutsches Haus prior to the demolition of Lower Mid-City for the development of the LSU/VA biomedical complex. The Candlelight Lounge, by comparison, faces slower-moving, quieter threats.
The resulting booklet Small Center produced presents a portrait of a place that has served a significant daily role in the lives of Treme residents past and present. In so doing, it has also sustained a festive spirit and a performance culture that have made the barroom a meaningful place to community members from the neighborhood and well beyond.
To buy a copy of Cornerstones, please click here.
Neighborhood Story Project
- Rachel Breunlin
- Abram Himelstein
University of New Orleans
- Bethany Rogers
- Dan Etheridge
- Helen Juergens
- Art Terry
- Emilie Taylor Welty
- Seth Welty
- Scott Bernhard
- Gareth Breunlin (Graphic Design)