A 170-year-old French Quarter church and a 190-year-old historic residence were among several properties vandalized along Chartres Street two days before Mardi Gras.
One victim said police suspect an “anarchist parade” was responsible.
Vandals spray-painted St. Mary’s Catholic Church and the neighboring Beauregard-Keyes House and Garden Museum, both in the 1100 block of Chartres Street, sometime Sunday night, the director of the house and museum said.
The chapel’s door was splattered with red paint, and the words “Kill God” were written on the sanctuary’s wall a few feet away. Across the street, someone scrawled “Gram hates yuppie scum” in black spray paint on the outer wall surrounding the Beauregard-Keyes House.
A New Orleans Police Department spokesman said detectives believe people participating in an “impromptu march” in the area are responsible for the damage, but no suspects have been identified.
“Whenever anything like this happens, it’s sad,” said Sarah McDonald, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of New Orleans, which operates the church. “We would hope that people would respect the church and all people’s properties.”
Ella Camburnbeck, house director for the Beauregard-Keyes property, said she was alerted by New Orleans police on Monday that a member or members of an “anarchist parade” moving through the French Quarter shortly after 10 p.m. Sunday had defaced several buildings along Chartres.
She said officers also said the group started some small street fires that neighbors were able to put out with garden hoses.
“We were lucky because our (damage) is on our stucco,” Camburnbeck said. “Some people were tagged on brick or granite, which is harder to clean.”
She said the landscape and architecture firm NOLA + Design Inc. has volunteered to clean the wall.
McDonald said the paint has been cleaned from the church wall. But the doors will require special treatment and restoration because the oil-based paint seeped into the wood and can’t be easily removed.
“Right now, we’re just going to get everything cleaned up and back to normal,” McDonald said.
Built in 1845, St. Mary’s Church, also known as St. Mary’s Italian Church, is attached to the old Ursulines Convent, a 262-year-old structure where New Orleanians gathered to pray during the Battle of New Orleans in 1815. The convent was not damaged in the attacks.
The Beauregard-Keyes House was built in 1826. It is operated primarily as a museum, telling the story of past residents of the house, including Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard and author Frances Parkinson Keyes.
Crimestoppers is offering a reward of up to $2,500 for information leading to the arrest and indictment of those responsible for the vandalism.