The Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO) joined developer KBK Enterprises, as well as residents of the former Calliope Housing Development and community leaders to preview an oral history project exhibition and documentary high-lighting the past, present and future of what was once called the Calliope Housing Development.
In 2007, HANO and the U.S. Department of Housing and Development (HUD) made the decision to demolish the historic “Big Four” public housing developments in New Orleans, one of which was the Calliope Housing Development. As a result of negotiations with HANO, HUD, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, the State Historic Preservation Office, and local stakeholders, each housing development was required to conduct an oral history project.
The Calliope Housing Development’s rich and deep history was reflected in the exhibit, “Beyond the Bricks: A History of the Calliope Housing Development”, which details the history of the housing development from its inception in 1939 to its renaming to B.W. Cooper in 1981 and its transformation post-Katrina to the new Marrero Commons. Subjects covered included the history of public housing and its architecture, life and culture in the early years of the Calliope, notable residents, and the challenges associated with demolition and re-building. The accompanying film, “To Me It Will Always Be the Calliope”, similarly documented the history and significance of the Calliope using the oral history interviews to weave the story together.