St. Mary’s Academy, New Orleans, LA

St. Mary's 1

History of St. Mary’s Academy



History of St. Mary’s Academy


721 0rleans St.

                This convent is located in the French Quarter and is seven blocks from Canal Street. It can be reached by the Desire and Gentilly Street cars.

                St. Mary’s Academy is under the auspices of the order of the Holy Family, a society of Negro nuns. The order was founded in New Orleans in 1842.

This school is for girls only. It is state accredited and complies with all the regulations of the State Board of Education. The State free books are used. No summer school is conducted. A uniform consisting of navy-blue skirt and white waist is compulsory. Grade school enrollment (1935-36) 95 high school, 92.

                The Sisters of the Holy Family was founded in New Orleans in 1842 by Juliette Gaudin. The order began with three young colored women, descendants of the oldest free colored families of the city. The eldest of this little band of religious was Juliette Gaudin, the first superior, later known as Mother Juliette, who died on January 1, 1888.

                This order was founded primarily for the care of the aged and to teach religion to the Negroes. As the colored population grew, a convent became necessary, so in 1867 a school was opened and from then on they became known as a teaching order. Today these nuns teach in several parochial schools and have charge of two orphanages; St. John Berchman, (girls) on Gentilly Avenue, the Lafon Home for Boys, Gentilly Road, Seven Mile Post.

                The Sisters of the Holy Family were first located on Bayou Road. In 1867 they moved to their present abide. It is one of the interesting spots of the French Quarter, as what is now the convent, was a formerly the ballroom of the old Orleans Theatre. Nothing has been done to the exterior of this building, and some of the rooms remain the same: others have had to be made smaller to meet the demands of the community life of the nuns.

                These nuns rely for their maintenance mainly on the collection which is taken up once yearly in all churches of the city for the support of the Indian and Negro Missions. They also supply the Catholic churches of the parish of Orleans with the bread for Communion. Besides their numerous duties, they mend and care for the vestments of the priests, make for care for the altar linens for all the churches who desire their services.

State Library of Louisiana (