In this series, which we will return to every other month throughout 2019, we are going to watch a piece of New Orleans architectural history become restored through the eyes of not only Mike and I, but also through our design and construction team. The home was built between 1955 and 1957 by Albert C. Ledner, as his personal residence for he and his family - where he raised three children and lived until he passed away in 2017. We never once looked at this as "renovate to flip" project, but immediately felt a connection to and personal passion for this project that is as much a collaboration between Wayne Troyer and his team at StudioWTA as it is my husband, Mike Hollis, and I. This is a project that definitely requires vision, the ability to see what is possible and the desire to be as authentic to the original design and Mr. Ledner's philosophy as possible.
In 2001, I moved to New Orleans and spent almost a decade overseeing housing facilities, including renovation, restoration and construction projects - many of whom Wayne and his team served as the lead local firm for during the process. After transitioning to a career in Real Estate, while I have kept in touch and remained friends with many of my day to day work friends, people like Wayne and his interior designer, Nancy Stewart, were people that had profound impacts on me and I never really saw the potential to work together again. On rare days, I would see Nancy in the grocery store in Lakeview perhaps, but from the first time I met them in 2001 (ish), I knew they had an incredible team dynamic, understood how to implement a vision and oversee the process thoroughly, and I feel as though I learned so much from them that I use almost daily - from understanding and appreciating space planning to how rooms work optimally to creating a comprehensive vision.
When Mike brought the Ledner home to my attention, I was shocked. I had seen it when Warren Backer, a Real Estate Advisor in our office, listed it and saw so much fun potential but never thought Mike would consider such a wholesale change from our 7 year old home filled with 20 years of furnishings and collections from our lives together to what is one of the most unique mid-century modern spaces I have ever seen - but he not only considered it, he was waiting at our office for me one morning and said, "Hey I stopped by the house on Bellaire and I think we should consider it. I think you could make it really cool."
As I began to realize Mike was being serious, and started looking through all the materials the family had provided Warren, and the materials that were available through the Southeastern Architectural Archives housed at Tulane University, I began seeing the potential. While perusing the materials online at SEAA, I noticed that StudioWTA had curated the work - and, I believe nominated Mr. Ledner for an AIA award he won.
There are no coincidences. I immediately called the studio and left a rambling message for Wayne - assuming he wouldn't remember me - and maybe not even this home. I was wrong on both. He similarly enjoyed our time spent at Tulane, particularly on Wall Residential College - the first to be built on Tulane's campus. And, to my surprise, his team had participated in curating Mr. Ledner's work, but when I asked Wayne would he and Nancy consider consulting on such a project he very humbly asked to be considered to take on a much larger role as our architect, design team and so much more.
We have wrapped up conceptual drawings at this point and can say that I believe Albert would be proud and knew Wayne was the right person even before knowing how well he knew Albert. It was such an easy, collaborative process and I know that will continue as we move forward.
Fun Fact: For all his professional accomplishments, Ledner -- who is also a World War II veteran -- is forever linked to a New Orleans institution that held sway for more than half a century: His mother was Beulah Ledner, the "Doberge Queen of New Orleans." For a little more fun about one of our favorite icings, check out this article!
A brief collage of "before pictures" as taken by Catherine Ledner.
Until our next update (some conceptual renderings, perhaps!),
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