Photography by John DeMajo and Kathleen DeMajo Adams

1802 Tulane Ave. New Orleans, LA.


Church prior to steeple being destroyed

Church prior to demolition. Steeple absent after damage from Hurricane Betsy

Saint Joseph's Catholic Church was built between the years of 1869-1892 and is reputed to be the largest church in New Orleans.

Prior to its present location at 1802 Tulane Avenue, it was located in a long since demolished building that stood across from Charity Hospital on the site of the present Tulane LaSalle Parking Garage. That building, constructed in 1846, was built to serve the expanding Irish polulation, and was outgrown in only 30 years. After the new church construction was completed in 1895 at Tulane and Derbigny streets, the original church was re-dedicated as St. Katherine's Church with a mission to serve the Black and Multi-Racial of the area. In 1966, having reached the age of 120 years, the building was demolished due to damage sustained in Hurricane Betsy the previous year. The 1895 dedication made it the first Roman Catholic church in New Orleans dedicated to serve the Black and Multi-Racial communities of New Orleans. (Thanks to Sister Betty Doskey OP and Mr. Glenn Gaudet for information.)

Information provided through the local archives indicates the designer was Carl Kaiser, a Viennese architect. The architectural style is Romanesque .Information recently received, however, indicated that the building was actually the work of John Keely, a New York architect who designed many churches. Similarities can be seen in St. Margaret's Church in Dorchester, MA and St. Michael's Church in Lowell MA. Both brick Romanesque churches have the similar overall looks as St. Joseph's.The trifoil with the dart design seen on the facade of St. Joseph's in New Orleans is also seen on Keely's Holy Innocents Church in New York City. More information on John Keely is available at Keely visited New Orleans just after the Civil War and it is during this visit that he was said to have overseen the construction of St. Joseph's,

Although this church is using an electronic organ, it contains an historic pipe organ built by the Jardine and Son firm in the year 1875. Through the efforts of the Organ Historical Society's New Orleans Chapter, the instrument was kept in playable condition until recent years. The society remains with the intent of preserving and eventually restoring this instrument, and presently they are awaiting permission from the church to proceed with further repairs that are hoped to make the organ playable again. The following is the original specification of this instrument

SWELL (enc)
Open Diapason 8 Bourdon 16 (TC) Contra Bass 16
Gamba 8 (TC) Violin Diapason 8 (TC)  
Melodia 8 (TC) Clariana 8 (TC) COUPLERS
St. Diap. Bass 8 Dulcimer [sic] 8 (TC) Swell to Pedal Drawknob
Principal 4 Clarinet Flute 8 (TC) Great to Pedal Drawknob
Flute Harmonic 4 St. Diap Bass 8 Swell to Great
On / Off Thumb Piston
Fifteenth 2 Violano [sic] 4  
  Tremulant Swell Expres-sion (bal.)

Return to New Orleans Churches Index