To raise money for a good cause, the Historic Faubourg Tremé Neighborhood Association will throw a three-day festival next weekend that includes a patron event, a block party with music, food and crafts, and a gospel Mass.
Slated for Friday, Oct. 2, through Sunday, Oct. 4, the first ever Tremé Festival will initiate the campaign to raise funds for essential repairs to St. Augustine Catholic Church at Gov. Nicholls and Henriette Delille streets. The church, preparing for its 175th anniversary, needs repainting and repairs to its roof and windows.
Dedicated in October 1842, the church was designed by well-known French architect J.N.B. de Pouilly, who a few years later devised plans for the renovation of St. Louis Cathedral.
According to HFTA, when the church was under construction, “Free people of color bought more pews for their families than any other contributors” and “the side-aisle pews were given to slaves, who were welcomed to worship there, a first in the history of slavery in America.”
Bells for St. Augustine’s bell tower were purchased in 1883 at the New Orleans Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition by Father Joseph Subileau, according to the Friends of the Cabildo book on Tremé. When the front wall of the church burned in 1920, Italian immigrants removed the debris, and then built the existing sanctuary out of marble imported from Italy.
Later, in 1925 to 1926, the church was renovated according to plans by the architecture firm of Weil and Bendernagel. From inception and throughout its history, the church has served as an anchor in Tremé and a place where worshipers of all races and ethnic origins could come together.
Prominent members of the church include Henriette Delille, the prospective saint who took her formal vows there in 1852 and who co-founded the Sisters of the Holy Family; Homer Plessy, the New Orleanian who instigated the U.S. Supreme Court case Plessy vs. Ferguson; jazz pioneer Sidney Bechet; A.P. Tureaud Sr., the civil rights attorney; and Allison “Tootie” Montana, who worked in the building trades as a lather before becoming “Chief of Chiefs” of the Mardi Gras Indians.
The weekend of events begins Friday, Oct. 2, with a patron party from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the recently renovated George and Joyce Wein Jazz and Heritage Center at 1225 N. Rampart St.
The finale is a gospel extravaganza beginning at noon on Sunday, Oct. 4, following the gospel Mass at 10 a.m. The extravaganza features St. Anna’s Gospel Choir, St. Augustine’s Choir, and the Zion Harmonizers.
In between, on Saturday, Oct. 3, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., the neighborhood association hosts a street party in the blocks surrounding the church. Musicians scheduled include John Boutte, Kermit Ruffins & the BBQ Swingers, James Andrews and the Crescent City Allstars, Shannon Powell, Leroy Jones Quintet, New Breed Brass Band, Lil’ Glenn and the Backatown Band, and the Tremé Brass Band.
A second-line procession — led by Roots of Music, Zulu Connection, and the Stilt Walkers and Drummers — will lead crowds through neighborhood streets.
For those whose tastes trend toward the visual rather than musical arts, Terrance Osborne has created a poster depicting a Tremé streetscape filled with Creole cottages and shotgun houses, the bell tower of St. Augustine’s at the end of the block. Proceeds from the sale of the poster, whose design was donated by Osborne, also go to the church’s renovation fund.