NEWORLEANS- The pile of faded red, white and blue material is actually a priceless uniform coat from the War of 1812. Jessica Hack is leading the restoration team.
'Totally terrifying,' said Jessica Hack of Jessica Hack Textile Restoration. 'We are responsible for this priceless, one of a kind, there is no other one like it on the planet anywhere.'
The coat belonged to Lieutenant Colonel William Hamilton, who did not fight in the Battle of New Orleans in 1815, but was here at the time.
'It was deemed to be in such deteriorating condition that people thought it it couldn't be conserved, and indeed it can,' said Hack.
The restorers have been working on the coat since May, carefully sewing new material under the original wool to stabilize it, using incredibly thin thread.
'It is the consistency of a strand of hair, with a tiny, tiny needle,' said Restoration Expert Jean Blais.
It will take 450 hours to prepare the coat for the Battle of New Orleans Bicentennial Exhibit at the Cabildo, five weeks spent so far on the collar alone.
'It started out kinda looking like this, and it's been under-laid, and stitched down to the underlay fabric,' pointed out Blais.
Imagine trying to fix that hole in your socks with thread this thin. So to save this coat is a time consuming and expensive process, $35,000. It's all from donations, so the State Museum needs your help.
'We still need about $10,000, and we would love anybody or everybody who has an interest in helping to contribute in small ways or large ways,' said Louisiana State Museum Curator Wayne Phillips.
Even the restorers are donating, spending hours sewing for free to save the uniform for future generations.
'I wouldn't suggest anyone wear it in a battle anymore, but you can certainly display it,' Hack said, describing how much better the coat will look at the end, and that it should last for decades.
For details, call 568-2475, or visit the Louisiana State Museum Foundation website at www.thelmf.org.