Constructed during the mid-18th century, the Old Ursuline Convent was created to house Ursuline nuns who travelled all the way from France to give medical assistance and educational help to the first settlers of the then young French colony in New Orleans. It took five years to build the convent from 1745 to 1750 on a land situated on one of French Quarter?s borders.
The Old Ursuline Convent is considered as the most antiquated structure in New Orleans and arguably in the entire Mississippi Valley. The convent took the place of a structure built earlier in 1732 on the same location, quickly following the coming of the nuns in the city. Luckily, the Old Ursuline Convent did not perish in 1788 when the great conflagration swept New Orleans. The said blaze devastated eighty percent of all the structures found in the French Quarter.
The Old Ursuline Convent was established by the Roman Catholic order of the same name. Alluding to the twelve apostles, in 1727, the initial twelve Ursuline nuns migrated to New Orleans from France. The twelve Ursuline nuns created an orphanage, a hospital and a school. The Ursuline transferred to a new place in 1824 and gave their original land to New Orleans? archbishop. For a brief period of time, the convent served as the official address of the Bishops. After which, it was converted to a parish multi-purpose facility. Then, it became a school and eventually became the center of Louisiana?s legislature.
The Old Ursuline Convent was fashioned in ubiquitous French colonial aesthetics and is regarded as one of the most magnificent illustrations of the basic French colonial architecture school of thought. Guests will be greeted by a beautiful porch followed by a fenced garden which sports an authentic French design and adorned with busts of saints. The convent features exhibits detailing its rich heritage and history plus other religious relics. Aside from these, there?s also the adjacent St. Mary?s Chapel which is officially named Our Lady of Victory. The chapel was constructed in 1846 several years after the nuns deserted the convent. Inside, the chapel is embellished with a beautiful Baroque altar, masterfully crafted stained glass windows and wonderful mural art pieces.