Louisiana November 01, 2017
The Oldest Building In The Mississippi River Valley Is Right Here In Louisiana
Louisiana has its fair share of historical buildings. If you’re a history buff, or maybe just looking to learn a little about the history of the oldest building in the Mississippi River Valley, then head on down to New Orleans to tour the Old Ursuline Convent.
First, let’s take a step back in history and see how this building came to be.
It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1960.
In 1699, France established its first settlement in the lower Mississippi Valley, after LaSalle’s discovery of the mouth of the Mississippi River.
It was decided that Ursuline nuns would come and minister at the hospital as well as teach the young girls of the colony.
So in 1727, 16 nuns arrived in New Orleans from France, ready to help the colony.
They lived in a different building until plans for the current building were drafted in 1734.
Completed in 1752, The Old Ursuline Convent is the oldest building in the Mississippi River Valley.
It’s also the oldest surviving example of the French Colonial period in the country.
The ground floor was used primarily as the dormitory, classrooms, refectory, and infirmary for the orphanage.
The second floor contained rooms for the nuns, a library, another infirmary, and storage rooms.
The building was even spared in the Good Friday fire that destroyed much of New Orleans in 1788.
As the story goes, the Convent was spared because Sr. Felicite placed a small "sweetheart" statue in the window, which redirected the course of the fire.
The Ursuline nuns occupied the building until 1824, when they moved to a larger convent in the 9th Ward.
From 1824 until 1899, it was the residence of the Bishops and Archbishops of New Orleans. During that time, St. Mary’s Church was built at the bishop’s chapel (1845).
Today, the building serves as a museum with both permanent and rotating exhibits you can explore.
The museum is open for self-guided tours Monday-Friday: 10am-4pm and Saturday 9am-3pm.
Their address is 1100 Chartres St, New Orleans, Louisiana 70116.
Have you ever taken a tour of the Old Ursuline Convent? Let us know!