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Old Ursuline Convent
1100 Chartres St. New Orleans, LA 70116 [Map It] (504) 529-3040
Neighborhood: French Quarter Hours: Monday-Saturday with tours running from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Free Off-Street Parking: No Handicapped Accessible: No/Unknown
Attraction Type/s: Museum, Historic Building Admission Cost: $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, $3 for students with valid ID, and FREE for children under 6. Group discounts also available.
The Old Ursuline Convent is the oldest building in the Mississippi River Valley. Completed in 1752, it is also the oldest surviving example of the French colonial period in the United States. Often referred to as the Archbishop Antoine Blanc Memorial Complex, the Old Ursuline Convent also houses the Archdiocesan archives. The building is known as the "treasure of the archdiocese."
Tours begin at the Chartres Street Gatehouse and continue through the beautifully manicured formal garden. Once inside the main building, the first thing to catch the visitor's eye is the original hand-crafted cypress staircase. The main lodge is filled with dozens of oil paintings of past archbishops, bishops, religious statues and bronze busts. Smaller rooms remind the visitors of the building's many functions over the years: a convent, an orphanage, a makeshift hospital and later a residence hall for local bishops. Most of the structures were restored and repaired in the 1970s during a $3 million restoration.
Behind the main building, there is a peaceful walled courtyard. Here the visitor finds statues that pay homage to founding Ursuline Sisters, Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini and Father Francis Xavier Seelos. This area is ideal for prayer and reflection.
Also worth visiting is the herb garden in the back of the convent previously featured on "Victory Garden" on PBS.