CV NEWS FEED // A historic African American Catholic church in New Orleans is set to receive a sizable portion of a $4 million preservation grant project.
According to a report from the Black Catholic Messenger, one of the oldest black parishes in the US, St. Augustine Catholic Church is set to receive up to $200,000 in grant disbursement from the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP), according to an announcement made by the group on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
The grant comes from NTHP’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, which is dedicated to preserving historic black institutions in the US. St. Augustine will receive between $50,000 and $200,000 from the Fund.
“We couldn’t be more excited to honor our second round of grantees and ensure that African Americans—and our entire nation—can enjoy an empowered future built on the inspiring foundations of our past,” Executive Director of the Action Fund Brent Leggs said.
According to the report, St. Augustine was founded in 1841 by “free people of color” who petitioned the then Bishop Antoine Blanc of New Orleans to build the parish in what is considered the first black neighborhood in the US.
The 177 year-old parish’s preservation efforts have faced various financial problems in recent years due to damage caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Ida, with damage from the latter resulting in the parish being forced to hold Mass in its parish hall for the past two and a half years.
Apart from the grant, which will go towards repairing the building’s exterior masonry and interior plaster, St. Augustine is currently carrying out its own campaign, in which the first phase “focuses on the restoration of the Church and rectory at a cost of $2.5 million.”
“The structure is so compromised that it leaves her vulnerable to storms, decay, and other conditions that may result in the closing of her doors forever and is in dire need of major renovations,” the campaign brochure reads:
Once renovated St. Augustine will once again become the center of the community; it will invite the community old and new to experience its ministries, to establish everyone’s living relationship with God.
We believe that losing Saint Augustine Church would prove more damaging than just losing a historic or sacred place. It would be losing a testament to unity, love, inclusion, and brotherhood.
St. Augustine is the home parish of many prominent African American figures, including Homer Plessy, Venerable Henriette DeLille, and civil rights attorney A.P. Tureaud Sr.