New Orleans – Old Ursuline Convent

While we were in the French Quarter of New Orleans we stopped by and toured the Old Ursuline Convent on Chartres Street. Mark is on a board with an Ursuline sister who told him he shouldn’t miss it. The structure and it’s contents are of historical significance and I think would be of interest to most tourists.

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The front portico and formal gardens of the Old Ursuline Convent

“The Old Ursuline Convent is the oldest building in the Mississippi Valley.

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Rear entrance to the building.

“The main entrance originally faced the river. The present portico facing Chartres Street was added in the 1890s,” (Building signage).

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The stained glass window above the front door was added when the entrance was changed to Chartres Street in the 1890s. Beside the door, a regal grandfather clock marks the hours. If memory serves, this clock was brought over by the original group of nuns when they came in 1727.

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“This staircase was originally part of the 1743 convent that stood closer the river. It was reinstalled here when the present convent was built. It is the only open, winding staircase remaining in an American colonial building.

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“The hand-forged railing is the only original ironwork left from French Colonial Louisiana.  The convent was designed in 1745 and completed in 1752 – 1753. The building was constructed by French Colonial Army Engineers under the auspices of the crown,” (Building signage).

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“The Statue of Our Lady of Victories” came to New Orleans in 1727 with the original group of nuns,” (Signage).

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St. Mary’s Church was the third chapel built on the Ursuline property. It was built as a bishop’s chapel in 1845.

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The sanctuary was added in the early 1920s.

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A bell tower here was destroyed in the 1914 New Orleans hurricane.

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A small room that was originally an orphan’s infirmary was bricked over in the 1890s to serve as the archdiocesan archives.

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Artifacts on display include the 1766 Crozier used by Luis Penalver y Cardinez who was the first bishop of Louisiana and the Floridas from  1793 – 1803.

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1766 Crozier

A bible of St. Louis King of France given to King Alfonso of Spain in 1236 is also on display there.

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If you find yourself in New Orleans, and are interested in history and historical buildings, the Old Ursuline Convent is definitely worth a stop-by.

You can see more photos and posts about our trip to New Orleans here.

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14 thoughts on “New Orleans – Old Ursuline Convent”

  1. Hi Christine .. interesting to read about the Convent and to see the photos – they’re amazing. I love how buildings adapted over the years, moved, changed frontages from water entrance, to horse and cart or car entrance .. very historical … and how lovely to have a Bible going back to the 1200s – certainly somewhere to enjoy should I ever see New Orleans ..

    Cheers Hilary

  2. Interesting, I’ve never heard of this. Love that original staircase. I’m glad I don’t have to tend those gardens, can’t imagine keeping everything so perfectly even.

    1. That’s funny about the gardens. I know what you mean. We have a few rounded boxwoods and they drive me crazy getting them trimmed up. I can’t imagine keeping the straight lines straight. 🙂

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