Its presence on St. Charles Avenue is commanding, with a tall bell tower and Spanish Colonial Revival-style ornamentation unlike any other church in New Orleans’ steeple-dotted skyline. St. Charles Avenue Baptist Church’s congregation dates to the 1880s, but its current site at 7100 St. Charles Ave. is the church’s third home. 

The sanctuary is the oldest building at the current campus, and it was designed by local architecture firm Favrot and Livaudais in 1925. Intricate cast concrete bas reliefs adorn the exterior brick walls; the roof is covered in terra cotta tiles; and a monumental bell tower stands tall above St. Charles Avenue.

The sanctuary sits on the second floor above an educational space — similar to the “raised basements” found in New Orleans’ residential architecture — and a pair of tall exterior staircases provides access to the street. The church’s first services were held in the building in 1926.

Many of the building’s original details also remain intact inside the sanctuary, including ornate plaster castings, light fixtures, tile floors and wood pews. A cantilevered balcony wraps around the room, and arched wooden sash windows bring ample light into the space. 

The congregation undertook an extensive restoration of the historic building in 2020, with help from a grant from the National Fund for Sacred Places, a program of Partners for Sacred Places in collaboration with the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The project secured the sanctuary’s exterior, mitigated deterioration and water issues, restored historic wood windows and plaster walls as well as updated the building’s HVAC and electrical systems.

Visit this and several other examples of New Orleans’ vernacular architecture at PRC’s Spring Home Tour presented by Entablature Design + Build on April 20 and 21. Click here for tickets and more tour details.