Cabin to Church: A look at the 300 year history of St. Charles Borromeo Church in Destrehan

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DESTREHAN, La. -- Tucked away deep in Destrehan, surrounded by oak trees, impressive tombs, and forgotten graves, you’ll find the Saint Charles Borromeo Cemetery.

It’s been around since 1718. The resting place for politicians, plantation owners, veterans has magnificent mausoleums that have stood the test of time, while others now are just rock and rubble.

The church was established a couple years later, but it was not the striking structure you see now.

“Well, it began across the river in a little log cabin," St Charles of Borromeo Administrative Assistant Ronald Rodrigue said.

That cabin was transformed into a house over time, but then it burnt down in 1806.

“Unfortunately a hundred years of records were lost because of the fire," said Rodrigue.

A few years later, they built “The Little Red Church” -- which served the parish for decades throughout the 1800s. A model of it is on display next to the current church.

“Eventually I guess it got to be too small and too old, so they wanted to build this building," said Rodrigue.

The “Little Red Church” was torn down in 1923, replaced with this current Spanish Colonial style church. Most of the parishioners had German roots, but they wanted to honor the Spanish Petroleum company that gave the parish a hundred acres of land.

In the 1970s, the parish made renovations, expanding – paying homage to St Charles Borromeo.

And Ronald also contributed to the new church. When he was just a boy, he says Father O’Reilly asked Robert and his brother to take some lights, stored in the Old Ursuline Convent.

A cherished church, burgeoning with history, that has been a part of the Destrehan community for centuries.


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