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Music lovers had been hopeful New Orleans would shore up important jazz structures during rebuilding after Katrina hit in 2005. There was talk of building a world-class museum. Similar efforts were pushed in the 1990s when Congress set up a national park in New Orleans to celebrate jazz. The park exists mostly in name.

Instead, the past five years have been hard for jazz enthusiasts to stomach.

Last year, the city tore down the Halfway House, a venue that had been turned into a pesticide business and later damaged by fire. It’s now a parking lot.

Meanwhile, the Gallo and Dixie theaters and the Naval Brigade Hall are gone since Katrina. The homes of several jazz musicians _ including Louis Nelson, Willie Guitar, Ed Garland, Danny Barker and Buddy Bolden _ have been torn down or fallen into disrepair in that time.

“It always seems like we’re losing something; if it’s not a storm taking it or a parking lot, it’s termites,” lamented Bruce Boyd Raeburn, the curator of the Hogan Jazz Archive at Tulane University.

Old jazz haunts just don’t mesh with urban renewal.

That was the case with Storyville, the famous red-light district where Louis Armstrong worked as a boy before it was closed in 1917. Seen as a slum, the district was flattened in 1939 to make way for a public housing project. Armstrong’s childhood home on Jane Alley was obliterated in the 1960s to make way for the city’s prison.

Jazz lovers worry that the zeal to “renew” New Orleans is threatening what’s left.

Since taking office last year, Mayor Mitch Landrieu has said he wants to eliminate 10,000 blighted properties in three years. The Bechet house, which had been occupied until Katrina hit, was one of them.

“This building was in imminent danger of collapse. The roof had caved in,” said Jeff Hebert, the city’s new “blight czar.”

He said the city was unaware of the house’s historic significance, but that he had no regret in tearing it down.

The home’s owner could not reached for comment. She did not show up for an adjudication hearing before the home was torn down, a city spokesman said.

Jack Stewart, a New Orleans jazz historian, said preservationists weren’t given advance notice that the city planned to tear down the house.

“They’re at a hair trigger of tearing stuff down,” he said during a visit to the location. He contends rudimentary repair work could have saved the house.

“All that house needed to have was one corner in one room propped up a little bit,” he said. “A few carpenters could have lifted it up with jacks and had it fixed in no time.”

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