Monday, March 8, 2010

Old Ursuline Convent New Orleans French Quarter

The Old Ursuline Convent
1100 Chartres
New Orleans French Quarter
Monday-Saturday: 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.
Admission - about $5

By Jane Feehan

There are a few reasons to visit the Old Ursuline Convent, which is located about two blocks from St. Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square.

One is that it’s the oldest building in the Mississippi Valley. The convent was designed in 1745 and built 1752-53 to house the Ursuline Nuns who, in 1727, came with the first wave of French settlers. Since then it has served as a convent, school, an archbishop’s residence and a meeting place for the Louisiana legislature. It’s steeped in Catholic heritage and local history and holds a few historic and religious items of interest.

Another other reason to visit this beautiful setting is to view a scale (1:87) model of the French Quarter as it was around 1915. Placed in what was once an orphans’ dormitory, the model was built in France beginning in 1956 as a tribute to the cradle of jazz. It provides a great bird’s eye view of the layout of the French Quarter. Not much has changed over the years; it’s a wonderful aid in learning one’s way about the Quarter.

A visit here is a bargain at $5. It’s low key, peaceful and interesting – quietly juxtaposed to the flamboyance of New Orleans. Self-guided tours. © 2010 Jane Feehan. All rights reserved.

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