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St. John the Baptist Church

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1869–1872, Albert Diettel. 1139 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd.
  • (Photograph by Karen Kingsley)

This handsome brick church, with a golden onion-shaped spire (gilded in 1963) that is an area landmark, was built for the Irish immigrants who settled in this area. The church, replacing a smaller, wooden structure of 1851, was built by Irish contractor Thomas Mulligan to designs of Diettel, who took his inspiration from the onion-domed Hofkirche in Dresden, Germany. Diettel used paired pilasters on the facade to indicate internal space divisions and repeated the paired motif in Corinthian columns on the middle level of the tall, three-stage tower. A heavily molded and bracketed entablature wraps around the building, gently curving over the small rose window in the center of the facade. This entablature is repeated at each of the tower’s setbacks in order to unify the design. The brickwork on this church is particularly fine. The cost of the building exceeded the congregation’s resources, so it was not until the 1880s, after the Reverend Thomas Kenny purchased the building, that the interior was completed and the enormous stained glass windows, made in the Munich studios of Franz Mayer and F. X. Zettler, were installed. The church was struck by lightning in 1909 and repaired with a steel and concrete roof. An adjoining school, built in the 1850s, was demolished in the 1950s for the raised expressway now next door. The adjacent rectory of 1895 at the corner of Clio Street was renovated in 2016 for office space and an apartment. The two-story wooden house has been painted a bright cranberry color and its Gothic trim is painted white.

Writing Credits

Karen Kingsley and Lake Douglas


What's Nearby


Karen Kingsley and Lake Douglas, "St. John the Baptist Church", [New Orleans, Louisiana], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

buildings of new orleans book

Buildings of New Orleans, Karen Kingsley and Lake Douglas. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2018, 183-184.

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