Old Arabi Jail’s Katrina repairs completedDec 28th, 2012 | By Jessica Gonzalez | Category: Top Story
After being damaged by Hurricane Katrina seven years ago, the completion of the Old Arabi Jail renovations
was celebrated on December 20 via a ribbon cutting ceremony.
The Old Arabi Jail, originally named The First Ward Justice Courthouse and Jail, is believed to have been
built in 1911. The building was used as a courthouse until 1923 and simultaneously as a jail until 1939.
A renovation to the building took place in 1985, which likely produced the low-slung addition at the rear. During Hurricane Katrina, the building was submerged in more than three feet of water, according to FEMA field reports. The roof sustained significant wind damage (leading to leaks and damage throughout the building), while plumbing fixtures, mechanical systems, and electrical systems were damaged by flood waters.
“Prior to Hurricane Katrina the building was used as a meeting place for the Lions Club and leased to Parish Government,” explained Tourism Director Gidget McDougall.
The repairs to the historic building included a new roof structure, new electrical system, new HVAC system, structural crack repairs, plaster wall repair, new ceiling and millwork finishes, and interior paint. The existing rear annex was completely demolished and replaced with a new addition updated to meet current codes. The rear addition contains a handicap accessible entry foyer, handicap accessible restrooms, and kitchenette space.
The project was designed by Waggoner & Ball Architects and constructed by Boasso Construction, LLC. The total project cost of $460,000.00 was funded by FEMA.
McDougall explained that there are no definite plans for the building yet, but there are tentative plans to use it as a sugar museum.
“To encourage visitation, we’re going to need volunteers, and our senior citizens in the community
would be perfect for that,” said Chairman of St. Bernard Parish tourism Claire Henderson.