NewOrleansChurches.Com®
Photography by John and Kathleen DeMajo

THE ORIGINAL NATIONAL SHRINE OF ST. ANN
2125 Ursuline Ave, New Orleans, LA.

The original church and school building of the National Shrine of Saint Ann.

The school was located on the second and third floors of this building, while a temporary church was established in the multi-purpose auditorium on the first floor. In 1924, the parish relocated to this facility after moving from the original site, which now houses Saint Peter Claver Parish. Plans called for construction of a grand permanent church and shrine building, however, those plans never materialized. A rendering of the proposed church can be seen below in a post card that was sold through the Confraternity of St. Ann. St. Ann Parish saw it's most prosperous days at the Ursuline Street location in the late 1940s. With changes in demographics that occurred in the 1960s and 70s, , the church was closed in the 1970's and the new Shrine of of St.Ann relocated to Metairie. Father J.Marion Jorda, who served as pastor through the 1950's and 60's until his retirement, attributed the problems of the parish on the demise of many older parishioners who supported the church, and on "white flight", which removed many of the long time parishioners and their families. After the church closed,the building remained unoccupied until it was turned over to St. Peter Claver Parish and a recent conversion repurposed it as a senior housing center.

 

An interior view of St. Ann Church. (Our thanks to Donna Howard for providing this rare photo)

 
An early 1930s post card rendering of what was to be the permanent National Shrine of St. Ann, to be located on the Ursuline Street property
Photo courtesy of Mrs. Janet Stern
 
ORGAN INFORMATION
At the time of its opening in the Ursuline Street location, St. Ann's Church had a Pilcher pipe organ that was built in or before 1923. According to church records, the 1923 inventory of the church property, which is believed to have been assembled just prior to the move to the 1924 building on Ursuline Avenue, listed the Pilcher organ valued at $1000. A 1954 report still listed the Pilcher. According to a 1957 Annual Report of Church Improvements, a Baldwin electronic organ had been purchased at a cost of $4899.51. The Pilcher had been removed from the main floor at that time and the Baldwin, along with two tone cabinets, was installed in the upper gallery which had originally been used for seating of "colored parishioners."
PLEASE NOTE: We are attempting to locate additional photos off St. Ann Church and school. If you or anyone you know has photos of 
church or school functions that depict the buildings and grounds, we would be happy to display these on the web site with appropriate
credit to the owner of the photos. Please contact John DeMajo at jdemajo(at)demajo.net (replace "at" with @ ) if you can help.

 

The historic Saint Ann Grotto

The grotto and shrine, which was operated by the Confraternity of St. Ann, encompassed the entire city block bounded by North Galvez, Ursuline, Governor Nichols, and North Johnson Streets. The complex included several classic New Orleans "shotgun" cottages which had been converted to classrooms, and an auditorium and a cafeteria for the school. The rectory, Grotto, church building, and the Confraternity's office and gift shop, were located along the Ursuline Avenue side of the property. This view was taken shortly before Hurricane Katrina.

 
A view of the grotto "Stations of the Cross" stairway. Pilgrims would kneel and crawl up these stairs, as they prayed the prayers associated with Jesus' crucifixion, in hopes of having miracles bestowed.
 
The crucifix at the top of the grotto. This work of art was a donation to the parish by my late grandparents, Lawrence A. and Marcellita Nicolini Bogan of New Orleans. St. Ann was their parish church. This photo is from the LOUIS Digital Library of the State of Louisiana.
 
Another photograph of the grotto from the Louisiana State Digital Library. By comparison to my 2004 photo above, this photo dates to the late 1930's.
 
This is a 2013 view of the top of the grotto, as taken by New Orleans Churches.com personnel on a visit to New Orleans.
 
And this view of the entire property, was taken on that same 2013 visit. The photo reflects the improvements made to the grotto as well as to the former church and school building, which is now a residence for the elderly.

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