Photos and article by Charlie London
Chandra and Kenny Tassin celebrate the removal of blight at 1551 Mystery. The Tassins paid for the removal of the blight and the sign. The sign was requested by the Faubourg St. John Neighborhood Association.
Kenny Tassin bought 1551 Mystery on March 18, 2011. On May 3, 2011, the blight at 1551 Mystery was removed.
This property was seriously neglected by the previous owner. The previous owner simply refused to do anything for over 10 years (according to neighbors). After a blight judgement, fines, and finally an article in City Business, the owner decided to sell the property. You can read the City Business article in the link below:
You can read more about the previous blight at 1551 Mystery in the link below:
http://business.fsjna.org/2010/11/keeping-our-eyes-on-the-prize/ Scroll to the bottom of the link to see the 2009 certified blight judgment from the City of New Orleans.
Ms. Fowler, former President of the Faubourg St. John Neighborhood Association, gives a brief statement below about this once beautiful showplace left to rot for over a decade by previous owners who decided that dual homestead exemptions, running off with any insurance money received from the storm, then getting the tax assessment reduced after getting caught with dual homestead exemptions were all more important than doing the right thing by the neighbors and the neighborhood. As she states in her first sentence, “The structure and property were in deplorable condition.” It is sad that this onetime showplace could not be enjoyed by future generations because neglect and greed took precedence over people.
Thanks to new owners Kenny and Chandra Tassin, this property has been cleared of blight and neglect and has the potential to once again be a wonderful place.
Although the structure and property were in deplorable condition, I remember when the building and property were a triumph deluxe for the architect Bob Biery and his wife Ruth Biery when it was built in the early 1980’s. Bob designed and built a thoroughly modern and green (back then called eco-friendly) residence for his family. The house was simple and spare, and the foot print of the building was economic and elegant. He used natural wood and a color palette of silver and greyed purples and blues throughout.To enter the house there was a path with a footbridge over a lovely pond with fish and lilies. The yard was beautifully planted with innovative style. I will never forget the effect on me as a young designer of sitting under a quartet of willow trees planted in a large square that created an outdoors dining space. I have repeated that planting motif in my own garden post Katrina with sweet olive trees. Bob used extremely affordable and every day kind of construction materials. I will always remember how influenced I was and continue to be by Bob Biery’s style, grace and talent as an architect and designer. And by the style, grace, intelligence and beauty of his wife, Ruth.
The property also has an historic component for Faubourg St. John and the neighborhood association. Bob Biery was part of what we called the “Gang of Five”, including Ron Ellington, Ed Young, Al Bordelon, and I, who met many times in that marvelous house to craft and build the FSJNA. Over many bottles of wine, we argued and discussed and strategized and organized and dreamt of what this incredible neighborhood could be one day. What came out of our meetings was the idea that we had enormous and valid rights as homeowners and renters in the neighborhood, and by banding together with fortitude, acceptance, and good humor, (not to mention excellent political savvy and might) we could slay any dragon that came our way that wanted to do damage or affect our quality of life without our consent. Our goal and rule was to honor and assist those neighbors who would be most affected by any change or development or issue. I can’t help but be amused and sometimes saddened by the comments made on our listserve that are often cruel and mean and pigheaded about what this neighborhood is or isn’t.
I shed a tear, because I have none too many left, for the loss of this onetime innovative compound. Bob and Ruth lost their house in the late 1980’s oil bust when the oil boom went south. Bob still lives in the ‘hood at the American Can Company. Say hello and thanks when you see him walking along the bayou.