Three Historic Churches
In New Orleans' Bywater neighborhood, three churches situated
within a few blocks of each other tell the story of the history of
the community and the immigrants who settled there:
Holy Trinity Church, founded in 1847 for German Catholics.
Sts. Peter and Paul Church, founded in 1848 for Irish Catholics.
St. Vincent de Paul Church, founded in 1838 for French Catholics.
St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church
When the congregations of St. Vincent de Paul, Holy Trinity, Sts. Peter and Paul, St.
Cecilia and Annunciation were all combined in 2001, the name of this church was
changed to Blessed Francis Seelos Church.  The other churches were closed and
Blessed Seelos is the only surviving Catholic parish in the neighborhood.  Out of
long habit, many New Orleanians still refer to this church as St. Vincent de Paul.
By the early 1800's, many French Creoles had moved downriver from the French
Quarter into what was known as the Third District of the city.  A church was needed
for the growing population and, in 1838, a frame building was constructed  In 1866,
a larger bulding was required and construction on the present church was begun.
(Blessed Francis Seelos Church)
Holy Trinity Catholic Church
3000 Block of Dauphine Street
The church was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.  In 2003, a fire
did catastrophic damage to the interior of the church.  Thanks to the heroic efforts of the
New Orleans Fire Department, the church's beautiful stained glass windows were spared.
The building had not been renovated by 2005, when the levee failures did additional
damage.  But, shortly after that, work began and the church was beautifully restored.
700 Block of St. Ferdinand Street
Holy Trinity Church was founded in 1847 for the German-speaking population of the Third
District.  The first building burned a few years later and the present church was
constructed in 1853.  The towers were damaged by fire in the late 1800's, but restored.
After the Yellow Fever epidemic of 1867, one of Holy Trinity's pastors, the Rev. Peter
Thevis, established St. Roch Cemetery and helped design its well-known gothic chapel.
The historic church closed its doors in 1997.  It was purchased shortly after being
deconsecrated, but stood, bereft and abandoned, for several years.  The current owners
planned to restore the building and turn it into a spiritual and artistic haven for the
community.  I don't know if these plans have come to fruition, but I hope they have.
It's hard to think of the historic old church sitting empty and decaying.
The photo above and the one directly below were taken within
the last two years; I took the second photo below in 2006.
Left:  photo of the interior of Holy Trinity Church in the 1940's.
Right:  interior of the church in 2010, thirteen years after it was deconsecrated.
Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church
2300 Block of Burgundy Street
Irish immigrants moved to the Third District in great numbers between 1830-1850.  They
sought a church of their own and, in 1860, a building was constructed on Mandeville Street.
The congregation soon outgrew that church and property was purchased on what is now
Burgundy Street in 1860.  Construction of the present building was completed the next year.
The church was closed in 2001; as far as I know, it has not been sold.  I don't know if there
are plans for the building, but there were some particularly beautiful stained glass windows in
the church.  I hope that the time will come when they're able to be seen by the public again.
Photo Credits:
2010 interior photo of Holy Trinity is thanks to
1940's interior photo of Holy Trinity is thanks to

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