St. Augustine Catholic Church, New Orleans

St. Augustine Catholic Church, New Orleans

Saint Augustine, the oldest African-American Catholic parish in the United States, stands on Saint Claude Avenue near the French Quarter, occupying the former Claude Tremé plantation site. Established in 1841, its history is closely intertwined with the community, including immigrants, slaves, and free people of color who played a pivotal role in its construction.

The church's architectural significance includes its design by J. N. B. de Pouilly, the same French architect renowned for his work on the nearby Saint Louis Cathedral. Notably, the pew arrangements reveal a fascinating history. In the past, pew fees were charged to parishioners seeking designated seating privileges, generating income for church operations. Free people of color purchased pews for their families and extended their generosity to less fortunate faithful, including slaves who couldn't afford seating. This led to the "War of the Pews", ultimately won by free people of color, resulting in the most integrated congregational church seating in the country.

Renowned for its inspirational music, Saint Augustine welcomes visitors of all faiths to its services, and also hosts the annual Jazz Mass as part of the Satchmo Summer Jazz Festival, paying tribute to Louis Armstrong. Exploring independently or joining a guided tour allows you to delve into its history, including the Tomb of the Unknown Slave, a poignant shrine honoring all enslaved individuals buried in Tremé.

Despite the threat of closure post-Hurricane Katrina, the determination of Saint Augustine Church's parishioners, along with grants and community support, ensured the preservation of this invaluable piece of living history.

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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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