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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Louisiana Coastal Vernacular: Grand Isle, 1780-1931
by McKinney, Karen J.S., M.A., University of Louisiana at Lafayette, 2018, 211; 10814689
Abstract (Summary)

Varying in age from ninety-nine to two-hundred-twenty years old, the surviving historic buildings on Grand Isle reflect the patterns of lifestyle and ethnic heritage on the state’s only continuously occupied barrier island and define Louisiana Coastal Vernacular. These structures, and the stories of the people who continue to occupy them, provided the primary resources for this thesis. The proposed National Register Multiple Property Listing (MPL) comprises the only documented study in the United States of historic coastal vernacular structures endangered by climate change and wetland loss. The structures also potentially hold the keys to future coastal construction methods. Research for the MPL revealed techniques developed through trial and error that allowed buildings to survive category four hurricane winds and storm surges up to sixteen feet for over a hundred years. Once formally identified as Louisiana Coastal Vernacular, these structures may hold the keys to future coastal construction methods. Potential global applications in the face of rising seas and increasingly severe annual tropical events require further investigation of surviving historic structures and their environments. Future investigation and documentation may reveal substantial applications to new construction that reduce loss of life and property during coastal storm events. Over the past thirteen years, state and federal authorities, citizens, and industries have struggled with numerous issues related to life in Louisiana’s unique coastal environment. What, how, and where to build has constituted a major theme of these discussions and yet, no comprehensive documentation of structures that have survived centuries of this environment has been conducted to ascertain how they survived and whether that information may be applied to future coastal communities. The historic buildings on Grand Isle represent a unique facet of life in Louisiana as well as containing the potential groundwork for a better way of living with coastal areas around the world.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Martin, Michael
Commitee: Parker, Chad, Saft, Corey, Skilton, Elizabeth
School: University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Department: History
School Location: United States -- Louisiana
Source: MAI 58/05M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: American history, Cultural Resources Management, Architecture
Keywords: Architecture, Coastal, Grand Isle, Louisiana, Preservation, Vernacular
Publication Number: 10814689
ISBN: 978-1-392-04136-9
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