I rode my bike down to a new coffee shop in the Marigny this afternoon. On my way I passed this construction site on St. Charles and, I think, Louisiana. This is where the new Borders store will be. It is easy, by the way, to be critical of these sorts of big box stores when you’ve got them in easy reach for those “emergencies,” as in, “I need a Scrabble dictionary and it’s after nine!” In this town, though, a big box store, especially a bookstore, would come in handy on occasion. There is much more to say about this debate (particularly given that the terrible Walmart was the saving grace for tons of folks during Katrina–sometimes Things Are Complicated), but what interests me about this particular building is its construction–which it has been under for at least the year I’ve been here. The building itself is a beautiful old mansion, or courthouse, or similarly regal place. But all that was left of it was the facade. I used to pass the building, confused that it was nothing but a front. They are preserving it, building up around it, though when finished they will certainly try to hide this origin. And why shouldn’t it? Historical preservation, especially of architecture in a place like this, is vital. But it is funny, too, to think about how much of this city might be built around facades like this one, how much this place is hiding. Best to take notes.