Historians work to account for New Orleans jazz artifacts





As the flood waters recede from New Orleans and the city takes up the sad task of counting the dead, historians are trying to account for musical treasures and contemplating whether New Orleans will regain its place as America's pre-eminent city for jazz.

Museum directors are still struggling to calculate the extent of losses. One of the biggest concerns is the state of the collection that was housed at the Old U.S. Mint in the French Quarter. The building's roof was torn off when Hurricane Katrina lashed the city on August 29. The collection includes musical instruments, film, prosters and photographs, news reports said.

But there also was some good news for New Orleans jazz fans when it was announced Sunday that the legendary Preservation Hall in the French Quarter was not affected by the flood. The Association of American Museums said at its website that the 255-year-old building around the corner from Bourbon Street and three blocks from the Mississippi River suffered no serious damage.

Other historic locations that sustained damage in the storm and the ensuing flood that resulted from levee and floodwall breaks include the Louis Armstrong House, the archives of the Jean Lafitte Museum and the National Cemetery, final resting place for soldiers who served in the Civil War.

"History is literally drowning," Chris Lee of the rock band Supagroup told the Dallas Morning News last week. New Orleans has been "a musician's paradise", he said, but he worries that the vibrant scene might be gone if musicians start to leave.


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