Photography by John and Kathleen DeMajo

Saint Bernard Ave. near North Claiborne, New Orleans, LA.


The parishes of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, originally located at Claiborne and Annette Streets, and Saint Boniface, a church serving the area near Claiborne Avenue and Saint Bernard, both began in 1871. In 1917, Saint Boniface was combined with Our Lady of the Sacred Heart to form a single parish. The original O.L.S.H. Church was destroyed by the 1915 Hurricane and it was never rebuilt. The original St. Boniface church stood near the present site until a tragic fire, on August 18, 1945, reduced the wooden structure to ashes. Father Lawrence Bonin, O.S.B., who was pastor at the time of the fire, rescued pews and statues and set up a temporary church in the school auditorium. It was not until 1955 that a new church was completed. Dedicated in an era when "white flight" was just beginning to take its toll on New Orleans churches, the predominantly German parish found itself in competition with the parishes of Corpus Christi and Saint Augustin, both of which had well established and loyal African-American congregations. Attendance dwindled and, only a few short years after completion, the church was closed. Today, the1955 building still stands and was last used to warehouse supplies for the Catholic Food for Families program. We have no post-Katrina info on this church.

Only remaining exterior identifying marker remaining on the 1955 building.
The building shown in the photograph above is the original church of Our Lady Of The Sacred Heart. It was located on the corner of North Claiborne and Annette Street, and it was destroyed in the 1915 hurricane that struck New Orleans. After the loss of that building, the parishes of St. Boniface, which was a few blocks away on St. Bernard Avenue and N. Derbigny, and Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, were merged. The new parish retained the name Our Lady Of the Sacred Heart.
Shown above is a photograph taken during the August, 1945 fire which destroyed the original St. Boniface Church. St. Boniface was located near to the present location of the 1955 Our Lady Of The Sacred Heart building shown above. Following the fire, the church was housed in the school auditorium on St. Bernard Avenue until the new building was completed in 1955. Thanks to heroic efforts of the church's pastor, many of the religious artifacts were rescued from the burning building. (Historic photos are from original church publications by Roger Baudier, KSG).
Organ Information

According to records available to the Organ Historical Society, the 1955 church building housed a Wicks organ bearing Opus # 2804, which was built in 1947. It is assumed that the instrument was used first in the school auditorium temporary church, and was then relocated to the new church when it was completed.

Prior to the 1945 fire, records indicate that the original St. Boniface Church held an 1890's Wm. Schulke organ, Opus 149, which was listed as a 2 manual, 3 division instrument. Other Schulke organs were installed in New Orleans during that same period, and one example still remains, although altered, at St. Mary's Assumption Church on Constance Street.

Two instruments are listed as having been installed in Our Lady Of The Sacred Heart Church in addition to the 1947 Wicks. An instrument by M.P. Moller, bearing Opus 2042, was installed in 1910, and is believed to have been the organ that was in the church which was destroyed by the 1915 hurricane. There is also mention of a George Kilgen instrument, #5203, listed in conjunction with that church. If this information is correct, Kilgen Opus #5203 would have been constructed in approximately 1930, several years after the parishes had been merged. It is possible that the Kilgen instrument may have replaced the Schulke organ, that would have been the existing instrument in the St. Boniface building at the time the churches were merged. If that is the case, then the Kilgen instrument would have been the organ that was in the building at the time of the 1945 fire.

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