Redemptorist priests staffed the churches in the Irish Channel.
Redemptorist Priests in the 1930s
Fathers Fagan and Grangel, of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (the Redemptorists), at St. Alphonsus Church, 2030 Constance Street, New Orleans, late 1930s/early 1940s. St. Alphonsus Church (named for the founder of the Redemptorists) is one of the three churches in the “Redemptorist Parish” that services the Irish Channel. It’s the church for the Irish community in the neighborhood. The church built by the German community is St. Mary’s Assumption. Francophones attended Mass at Notre Dame de Bon Secours, which burned down. The Redemptorist fathers staffed and administered the parish, until their departure from the neighborhood in the 1990s.
Clerical dress, 1930s
The priests wear black cassocks and their “Redemptorist rosary.” The order wore their own style rosary. It’s a 15-decade (15 sets of ten beads) rosary. Instead of a crucifix on the end, this style has has a medal with St. Alphonsus on one side and Jesus the Redeemer on the other. Alphonsus Liguori founded the Redemptorists in 1732, in Sant’Agata de’ Goti, Italy.
In addition to their cassocks and rosaries, the priests wear the biretta, the classic black hat worn by clergy. The biretta dates back to the 14th Century. Since men’s fashion in the 1930s usually included wearing a hat, it’s no surprise that Fathers Fagan and Grangel wore them. Their birettas are black, with a black “pom” atop the hat. The black biretta indicated their rank as priests. Bishops wore amaranth-colored birettas, and cardinals scarlet. Priests of varying positions and ranks wore birettas with amaranth or scarlet poms. While priests wore the biretta regularly when out, the hat’s use during the liturgy was regulated. Priests wore the biretta as they processed to the altar for Mass or other ceremonies. When they reached the altar, the priest removed the hat, handing it over to an altar server. The priest retrieved the biretta at the end of the service, wearing it out of the church.
Works Progress Administration photos
While this photo is listed as undated, it’s part of the WPA collection at the State Library of Louisiana. Most of the photos in this collection date to 1938-1940, since that’s when most of the artist’s projects were funded.
Greetings from NOLA Mural, uptown.
Image courtesy greetingstour.com
A muralist and a photographer teamed up, traveling around the country to make murals in the style of the old Teich “greetings” postcards from the 1930s. Muralist Victor Ving and Photographer Lisa Beggs stopped in New Orleans. They created a mural on the wall of a building on the corner of Magazine and Joseph Streets in the LGD/Irish Channel.
We presented an old postcard to you in April, part of the “Greetings from…” series from the 1930s. Curt Teich, a German, immigrated to the United States in 1895. He opened a print shop in 1899. Teich produced linen postcards. Beginning in 1931, Teich produced a line of color postcards saying, “Greetings From…” He published postcards featuring hundreds of locations across the United States.
So, it’s no surprise New Orleans stores sold Teich’s postcard for the city. Ving and Beggs shortened the city’s name for their mural. They updated the feel of the city. The pair received permission for the mural from the owner of The Renaissance Shop, 2104 Magazine Street. The Renaissance Shop does furniture restoration. From their website:
When our family founded The Renaissance Shop, LLC in 1973, we had one goal: to provide high quality furniture restoration and design services that were second to none in the New Orleans area. Four generations later, we continue to live up to that goal everyday, both for our local customers and to the customers we ship to across the entire country. If you are interested in hiring us, or have questions about our services, please get in touch with The Renaissance Shop, LLC today at 504-525-8568.
So, muralists and restoration professionals teamed up to put New Orleans on the mural map. While postcards don’t sell as well as they did in the 1930s, Teich’s concept and style live on.
St. Alphonsus Church in the Irish Channel is one of the “Redemptorist” churches.
St. Alphonsus Church
Photo by Franck Studios of St. Alphonsus Church on Constance Street in the Irish Channel. HNOC dates the photo at 1953, but some of their records are off. I’m not good at dating photos based on automobiles, so hopefully some of y’all can confirm this. St. Alphonsus is one of the three churches in the “Redemptorist parish” that contains most of the Irish Channel neighborhood. The Irish community built this church, with the German community building St. Mary’s, across the street.
French, Irish, and Germans
The Archdiocese of New Orleans invited the Redemptorist fathers to staff a new parish, in the city’s Irish Channel neighborhood. While the Irish get top billing in the area’s name, German immigrants lived there in numbers. The archdiocese created an Irish parish, St. Patrick’s on Camp Street, in 1833. The German community received St. Mary’s Assumption Parish in 1843. The Germans built a small wood church on the corner of Constance and Josephine Streets. The Irish desired a separate church for their community. They built St. Alphonsus Church in 1857. Not to be outdone, the Germans replaced the small church with a building rivaling St. Alphonsus.
Even though the two communities operated separate churches, the Redemptorists staffed the parish. They said Mass in both, and ministered to both communities. The parish built a school on the St. Alphonsus Church side of the street. The School Sisters of Notre Dame staffed the school.
There was a third church, Notre Dame de Bon Secours (Our Lady of Prompt Succor), for the Francophone community. That church burned down. The community chose not to re-build it, blending themselves into the other church communities.
By the 1970s, the parish struggled with maintaining two cathedral-size churches in a single parish. The dynamics of the neighborhood changed. The archdiocese closed St. Alphonsus in 1979. The archbishop “deconsecrated” it in the 1980s. They turned ownership of the church to a community group. That group operates the building as a historical site and community center. The school continues as part of St. Mary’s.
Knights Templar train en route to New Orleans.
Knights Templar train
A special train, operated by the Texas and Pacific Railroad (T&P), arrives at New Orleans, 27-April-1924. The Knights Templar held their triennial convention in the city that year. The Texas and Pacific Railroad operated trains from New Orleans to Northwest Louisiana, Dallas, and Ft. Worth. Local railroad historians think it’s either T&P 323 or 353.
Texas and Pacific Railroad
The T&P operated from 1871 to 1976. With its headquarters in Marshall, Texas, T&P operated in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, ad Arkansas. While the railroad included “Pacific” in the name, T&P never made it to California. They connected to Southern Pacific track in 1881. So, T&P’s reach to San Diego came from that link. The Missouri Pacific Railroad (MP) acquired a majority stake in T&P in 1928. MP operated T&P independently until 1976. T&P merged with MP at that time. Union Pacific (UP) acquired MP in 1988. By 1994, UP repainted all MP equipment to their livery.
T&P in New Orleans
Beginning in 1916, the T&P operated passenger service in New Orleans from the Trans-Mississippi Passenger Terminal. The station stood on Annunciation Street, between Melpomene and Thalia Streets. Since T&P trains departed New Orleans for westbound destinations, they needed to cross the Mississippi River. So, the trains left the station, connecting with a ferry. The ferry brought the trains to Gretna, where they stopped initially at the Fourth Street station. From there, T&P traveled Northwest.
While the T&P was best-known for the “Eagle” trains of the 1950s and 1960s, the railroad connected New Orleans to North Texas for passenger and mail service for decades. To get to Dallas, New Orleanians took T&P. For Houston, they took Southern Pacific.
The Knights Templar
The Knights Templar held their 18th Convention in New Orleans in 1924. The event ran for weeks, in downtown New Orleans. The Knights Templar erected a massive arch over Canal Street, with Masonic symbols. The arch was large enough to allow streetcars to cross under it.
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Southern Rebellion Irish – talking about the Irish socially in Antebellum New Orleans
Stained glass window in St. Alphonsus Church, the “Irish church” in the Irish Channel neighborhood of New Orleans
Southern Rebellion Irish
While a number of Irish families in New Orleans rose to the upper levels of society by the Southern Rebellion, those in the city who wanted to maintain an economy based on enslaved African labor did not accept newer Irish immigrants as equals. They didn’t mind the Irish taking jobs they didn’t want to do, in the army, doing labor such as working to build the New Canal, and working on the riverfront. By 1860, the Know-Nothings (yes, that was a real party and political movement) pushed immigrants away to the point where the Irish felt strong Unionist sentiments.
The Rogue’s March by Peter F. Stevens
The Irish immigrants felt the resentment of the WASPs in the United States antebellum most in the Army. WASP officers commanding units during the Mexican War treated immigrants horribly. This led to a large desertion. Hundreds of Irish soldiers crossing the Rio Grande river joining the Mexican Army. The book, The Rogue’s March: John Riley and the St. Patrick’s Battalion, 1846-48, details the history of the “St. Patrick’s Battalion” of the Mexican Army in 1847-48. While life in the Army improved overall by the Southern Rebellion, the rebels still treated the Irish on their side poorly.
Not just the Irish
As the Irish community in New Orleans grew from downtown, along the riverfront to further uptown, German immigrants settled in the same area. What we call the “Irish Channel” was home to a large German community. These Germans were mostly Rheinlanders and Bavarians, who were Catholic, like the Irish. They formed the core of the “Redemptorist” parish, worshipping at St. Mary’s Assumption Church on Constance and Josephine Streets. So, by the time of the Southern Rebellion, both the Irish and German communities were more supportive of the Union than the Confederacy.
Defending the City
Mutiny at Fort Jackson by Michael D. Pierson
So, these immigrants lost their jobs with the closure of the Port of New Orleans in 1861. To provide their families, they joined the rebel army. While many were sent off to fight in Tennessee and Virginia, others stayed behind, to defend Forts Jackson and St. Phillip, down the river from the city. At the time of Farragut’s capture of New Orleans in April, 1862, Fort Jackson’s defenders included three battalions: one Irish, one German, and one made up largely of men from the white planter class. It should come as no surprise that two of those three units mutinied and walked out of the fort, making it easier for Farragut to come up the river and Butler to bring his occupying army behind the ships. For more reading on this, check out Mutiny at Fort Jackson: The Untold Story of the Fall of New Orleans, by Michael D. Pierson.
Reading on the Irish.
The Irish in New Orleans by Laura D. Kelly.
If this topic interests you, you definitely want to get Dr. Laura Kelly’s book, The Irish In New Orleans.
Single-truck Streetcars were the first electrics in New Orleans
Single-truck streetcars on Canal Street. Teunisson photo, ~1905
Streetcar operating companies phased out mule power in the mid-1890s. So, the single-truck streetcars replaced the “bobtails”, as the first electric cars in the city. “Single-truck” means one set of four wheels. The cars were relatively small. Companies like NO&CRR and NOCRR initially purchased Brill streetcars. They switched to Ford, Bacon, and Davis single-trucks in 1894. The car on the left, running on Prytania, is a Brill. The car running on Annunciation is a FB&D. .
The Prytania Line
The New Orleans City Railroad Company opened the Prytania line on June 8, 1861. The line started at the Clay Monument, Canal Street and St. Charles Avenue. Cars ran initially from Canal, up Camp, to Prytania, to Toledano. NOCRR expanded the line in 1883. Prytania ran up to Exposition Boulevard at Audubon Park. Therefore, it dropped off riders at the Cotton Exposition. So, mule-drawn streetcars operated on Prytania at this time.
While the New Orleans and Carrollton RR operated on St. Charles Line, Prytania became popular, because of Touro Infirmary and the Garden District. The streetcars dropped folks off right at the hospital. Many people living in the Garden District took Prytania in for Canal Street shopping. They avoided the crowds on St. Charles. People called Prytania the “Silk Stocking Line” because of the privileged riders.
Prytania’s first electrics were Brills. until the 1920s. The line switched to Jackson and Sharp single-truck streetcars. In 1915, New Orleans Railway and Light ran double-truck “Palace” cars on Prytania. The arch roofs eventually replaced those streetcars in the 1920s. NOPSI discontinued the Prytania line in 1932.
Annunciation serviced the uptown riverfront area and the Irish Channel. The Crescent City Railroad Company opened the line in 1863. New Orleans Traction Company electrified Annunciation in 1895. The line started at Canal and Camp, then up Tchoupitoulas, then Annunciation. At Louisiana, the line turned back towards the river and terminated at Tchoupitoulas. The return was different, because of one-way streets. From Louisiana, it ran down Chippewa, then Race, then Annunciation, Erato, Race, Camp, Calliope, then St. Charles to Canal.
The first electrics on Annunciation were Brills painted yellow with brown trim. FB&Ds replaced the brills in the late 1890s. Palace double-trucks operated on Annunciation around 1910. The line merged with Laurel in 1917.
The Mercier Building
The coupla visible in the top right of the photograph is the top of the Mercier Building. Simon J. Shwartz operated his Maison Blanche Department Store in that building. He tore down the building in 1908. The building we know as the Maison Blanche Building (Now the Ritz-Carlton Hotel New Orleans) dates from that time.