“Law of Place” goes viral!

Well…as viral as a 2,500 word introductory article in an uber niche area of regional law can go…in print. Nevertheless, I’m proud that my silly phrase made it to the cover of the Louisiana Bar Journal. Check it out here.

Just as exciting and relevant was the super cool article, The Curious Case of the Axis in the Privy, by Ryan Seidemann, Christine Halling, and D. Ryan Gray. What’s an axis? A human vertebrae. What’s a privy? A toilet/trash repository. What was the curious case?! In 2017 an axis was found in a sample of 19th and 20th century trash thrown into a privy during renovations of a historic Bourbon Street building. Oh my!

The article features several photographs taken during the archeological excavation of the privy at 626 Bourbon. As fascinating as the facts are the legal discussions raised by the finding [did someone say “The Finding?”] of human remains. La. R.S. 8:304-307, referred to as “the dedication provisions,” potentially protects sites of unmarked human burials. What would become of 626 Bourbon if its lone axis necessitated that it be recognized as a cemetery?

Fortunately, the law exempts places whose human remains are seemingly random. The authors (anthropologists, archaeologists, and a lawyer) explain that the most likely explanation for the errant axis is the bone’s long-ago dislodgement from a nearby cemetery and some unknowing pedestrian who picked it up and tossed it in the privy down the street. Because the privy was not “a place used or intended to be used for the interment of the human dead,” as Louisiana law defines a cemetery, 626 Bourbon was off the hook.

Even though Seidemann, Halling, and Gray’s article is essentially about an old house, it proves that the Law of Place encompasses more than just historic preservation law. Even their footnotes had me salivating. Just look at all that place-material! I have a lot of reading to do, and you have a lot to anticipate as we take the Law of Place mainstream.

Hallie ♥ historic houses and all things old. Earth + Ether Press is a passion project merging her love for old places and the books (and laws!) that will save them. She believes all problems can be solved with a long run and a cold beer (not necessarily in that order).

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