Rebuilding a Lighthouse with Booze and Bricks_lowres


Two very different restaurants along Exchange Alley in the French Quarter join forces tonight for a common cause: rebuilding the New Canal Lighthouse on Lake Pontchartrain.

The Green Goddess and the Pelican Club together will host the party in the picturesque alley they share as a fundraiser to help rebuild the historic lighthouse, which was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina (pictured in 2005).

The party is scheduled from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., tonight, Oct. 7. Cocktails and dishes from both restaurants will be available for purchase, and the restaurants will raffle off gift certificates, liquor, and other prizes.

The Green Goddess will keep a fundraiser for the lighthouse going through the rest of October as well. The restaurant has pledged to donate $1 to the cause for every cocktail it sells this month made using vodka or gin from the California distillery Tru Organic Spirits. The liquor maker has also pledged to donate a portion of proceeds from retail sales in the New Orleans market to the lighthouse project.

The landmark lighthouse is being rebuilt by the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, an advocacy agency for the 10,000-square-mile watershed that comprises the Lake Pontchartrain Basin. The plan is to open the building as a tourist attraction and headquarters for the foundation's environmental outreach programs.

The first lighthouse on the site was built in 1839 to mark the entrance of the New Basin Canal, the massive shipping channel dug at the cost of thousands of laborers' lives. It was later filled in and West End Boulevard in Lakeview covers part of the original channel's path. New and updated lighthouses were built at its channel's mouth over the years, though the one Katrina destroyed dated back to the 1890s. It served as a Coast Guard station until 2000, when it was decommissioned.

But the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation still must lease the lighthouse land from the Coast Guard, and that federal ownership makes the property ineligible for FEMA reimbursement for storm damages. Instead, the foundation has turned to private fundraising, of which tonight's benefit is a part.

The foundation's broader efforts have gathered about $300,000 from contributors toward a funding goal of approximately $500,000 to complete the project. To help close the gap, foundation also has begun a campaign selling personalized bricks to be placed at the lighthouse's entrance. The group hopes to sell 2,000 bricks for $200 each, with engraved names and messages from donors.