The Center for the Future of Museums Blog from the American Alliance of Museums has recently published a post authored by Jenny Lyons, Historic House Manager and Preservation Administrator for the Louisiana Landmarks Society and Pitot House Museum, on adaptive strategies for historic homes facing extreme weather events due to the climate crisis.

The post provides a case study on mitigating the effects of water damage, hurricane-force winds, extreme heat, and other weather patterns that have been increasing in severity in New Orleans and the surrounding areas in Louisiana. Lyons recaps recommendations that were made from a recent environmental assessment that was conducted on the Pitot House and how museum staff implemented those recommendations while putting together a long-term Strategic Plan. An excerpt from the post is below, which can be read at the following link: Historic Houses in the Shifting Landscape of Climate Change.

“Most historic houses in the Southeastern United States were built with flooding and extreme heat in mind, because the southern coastal region is hot, humid, and prone to flooding. They were built two to three centuries ago with many tall windows with transoms, lofty ceilings, raised foundations, and expansive galleries, all of which kept the heat at bay and the water out of the living space. The houses are uniquely built for a harsh sub-tropic environment, down to the frames themselves, which are usually made from local cypress to combat rot from rainwater and insects such as termites.

An excellent case study is the Pitot House on Bayou St. John in New Orleans’ Mid-City neighborhood. Constructed in 1799, it is the quintessential Creole country home. Comparable homes were a regular feature of the built environment along the southern bayous for centuries. Early residents were aware of the harsh environment they were living in and constructed the house on pillars out of cypress and stucco with a deep, wide gallery and strategically placed window and doors that ventilate the living space. These houses have served their purpose well for the last two centuries. However, their builders could not have foreseen the even worse severity of those harsh conditions that climate change now threatens.”