Louisiana Division/City Archives
New Orleans Public Library

Sources for Researching the History of Your House (Or Other Building) in New Orleans


The City Archives holds architectural plans from the Department of Safety and Permits, which periodically deposits plans originally submitted to the Department as part of the building permitting process . The collection is made up primarily of non-residential plans, although some residential plans are included for houses built or remodeled in the last 30 years.

There was no legal requirement that property owners or builders file plans with city officials until 1884 when ordinance #733, Council Series, required that such plans, along with specifications, be submitted to the Surveyor if they were used. Thus, the City Archives collection has no plans from before this date. Actually, only the largest and most expensive projects would have even used individual plans drawn especially for the purpose. Smaller projects during the nineteenth century more often relied on pattern books prepared by architects to illustrate popular styles and common building techniques. These patterns would either be copied or adapted by the individual builders to meet the needs of the owner.

An Index to building plans held in the City Archives is available online HERE. Researchers should check not only the main file, arranged alphabetically by street address, but also the Addendum, which lists plans acquired in more recent years.

A separate index to plans sent to the City Archives by the Vieux Carre Commission is also included on the page. Additional plans submitted for approval by the Vieux Carre Commission (AS620 ca. 1955-1976 mf) are also available on microfilm. These plans are not indexed, nor are they arranged in any logical order.

New Orleans (La.) Dept. of Safety and Permits. Index to building records, ca. 1900-1989
In the early 1990s, the Department of Safety and Permits transferred the Plan Processing Section's building plan index to the City Archives. The Historic New Orleans Collection arranged for the index to be microfilmed and for copies of the film to be available in the Louisiana Division. Many of the plans listed in this index have not survived in the City Archives, but the data provided may be useful in tracking down building permits and/or copies of the plans in other locations.
(KJG100 1900-1989 mf)


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