New Orleans preservationists protect damaged homes

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The often-contentious relationship between historic preservationists and private homeowners has flared up here in recent weeks, as activists determined to save the city's distinct architecture face off against Hurricane Katrina victims who can't afford to repair architecturally significant homes — and need a place to live.

On one side are Laureen Lentz and Karen Gadbois, who say it is their "duty" to safeguard the architecture that distinguishes New Orleans: The eclectic mix of ground-hugging Creole cottages with steeply pitched roofs; low-slung, horizontal Arts and Crafts bungalows; ornately trimmed narrow, rectangular "shotgun" houses.

On the other side are homeowners like Rosilyn Anderson and Linda Ireland, who want to demolish their Katrina-ravaged homes and replace them with new modular structures.

In the middle is the city government, which decides what is saved and what can go. The decisions could lead to a lingering landscape of blight.

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