St Augustine Catholic Church, New Orleans

St Augustine Catholic Church, New Orleans

St. Augustine Catholic Church is the oldest African-American Catholic parish in the nation. It is located on Saint Claude Avenue near the French Quarter on the site of the old Claude Tremé plantation. The church is the location of the annual Jazz Mass that is held in conjunction with the Satchmo Festival, which pays homage to Louis Armstrong.

The place of worship was founded in 1841 and dedicated in 1842. Architect J.N.B. de Pauilly designed the church. The property was donated by Ursuline Sisters on the condition that the church be named after Saint Augustine of Hippo.

What makes the church special is that it was built by Free Persons of Color. Famous parishioners include Homer Plessy, Sidney Bechet, A.P. Tureaud, and Allison ‘Tootie’ Montana. One interesting note is that a war of the pews began when white people heard about the free people of color buying pews for slaves. The free people of color eventually won by buying three pews to every one pew a white person bought.

St. Augustine’s almost faced closure after Hurricane Katrina due to extensive property losses in the city. This was a shock to the parishioners since the church escaped major damage. In addition, the parish was also providing support to those affected by the hurricane. The locals rallied and barricaded themselves in the building. This response caused the archdiocese to reverse its decision.

In 2008, the church received a $75,000 grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and American Express to do much needed renovations. Mass is at 10 am on Sunday.

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St Augustine Catholic Church on Map

Sight Name: St Augustine Catholic Church
Sight Location: New Orleans, USA (See walking tours in New Orleans)
Sight Type: Religious
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

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