The Presbytere is part of the Louisiana State Museum complex. Many of the buildings in this complex date back to the 1700's. The historical buildings that make up this complex are the Cabildo, St. Louis Cathedral, The Presbytere, the 1850's House and the Old US Mint. The Presbytere and the Cabildo were designed to look alike.
The Presbytere was built on a religious site, that of the Capuchin monks. The original name was the Casa Curial or Ecclesiastical House. The money for the Cabildo, St. Louis Cathedral and the Presbytere was given by Don Andres Almonester y Roxas. At the time it was built there was only one story and it wasn't until 1813 that the second story was added. It was at this time that the Wardens of the Cathedral took responsibility for the building.
When it was first constructed the Presbytere was a commercial building. It was in 1834 that the Presbytere was used as a courthouse. While the main architecture is Spanish the roof that was added in 1847 was a French mansard style. The Presbytere along with the Cabildo became a part of the museum complex in 1911. The building was listed a National Historic Landmark in 1970.
There is a permanent exhibit of the New Orleans Mardi Gras event. The story of how Mardi Gras came to Louisiana is told using technology and interactive participation. "Mardi Gras: It's Carnival Time in Louisiana'' takes the visitor through five distinct themes. The History, Masking, Parades, Balls and the Courir du Mardi Gras are the areas that are shown.
Guests of the museum are invited to step on board a float created by Blaine Kern, the famous New Orleans float maker. There are exhibits with the sparkling hand crafted gowns that have been worn by the Kings and Queens of the krewes. Other displays hold the scepters and crowns as well as antique invitations to some of the most resplendent masked balls.
Mardi Gras is not only celebrated in New Orleans, but in many rural cities in the state. Some of the rituals that are used in these areas have been performed since the twelfth century.
The Presbytere is located at 751 Chartres St, French Quarter, New Orleans. The cupola that was at the top of the Presbytere was lost in the Hurricane of 1915 and it wasn't replaced until 2005.
The hours of operation for the Presbytere are Tuesday through Sunday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. The museum is closed on every major holiday. The museum is accessible by wheelchair and other special needs can be arranged through the museum staff. The price is six dollars for adults. Senior citizens, students and active military personnel are five dollars. Children under twelve are free. If there are large groups with reservations there is a twenty percent discount applied. School groups are free, but a reservation is required. If two or more museums are visited there is also a twenty percent discount and AAA members receive a ten percent discount. There is a gift shop on the premises for purchasing souvenirs.