Since 1727, locals have worshiped on the site of the St. Louis Cathedral. French engineer Adrien De Pauger and engineer-in-chief Leblond de la Tour designated the area, and it was the first building in New Orleans constructed in the briquete entre poteaux system (brick between posts). It is even rumored that De Pauger was buried within the walls. In 1788, a fire in the home of the military treasurer carried over to the Cathedral and it burnt down. The church we know of today was completed in 1794, and was the funded by a wealthy patron, Don Andres Almonester y Roxas.
Recognized the world over as a symbol of the city, time, however, has taken a toll on the building. “It’s an ongoing battle trying to upkeep a church dating back to the 18th century. It is in constant need of repairs,” says Armand Bertin, director of development for the Cathedral. St. Anthony’s Garden located in the back of the church costs as much as $7,000 to maintain. “On the positive side, people have been very generous and stepped forward [to help].”
Just recently, patron Elise Cambon made the generous donation to restore the organ she has played many times for churchgoers. “The organ is newly renovated. And the [organ concert] series that the church has is a way to show it off,” says Bertin.
St. Louis Cathedral and Ursuline Convent have recently joined forces. “They’ve taken the St. Louis Cathedral and put it together with the Ursuline Convent, and it’s now part of what is called the Catholic Heritage Cultural Museum,” says Bertin. The CHCC had its grand opening on Oct. 1. “We really just expanded the concept that if you are a friend of the St. Louis Cathedral, then you are also a friend of Ursuline Convent.”
“Monsignor Crosby Kern is trying to make the Cathedral and Ursuline Convent an active part of not only the French Quarter, but the entire New Orleans community,” says Bertin.