Historically Speaking: St. Ann’s Catholic Church

By Jessica Gorman

This week I’m going to be correcting myself. About a month ago, I posted this photograph of St. Ann’s Catholic Church on the museum Facebook page. I believed this to be the original church building. However, a 1907 newspaper article tells a different story.

The 1907 article relates the story of the origins of the Catholic church in Claiborne Parish, and then Webster Parish, as told by Mr. Mat Murphy who came to North Louisiana in the late 1840s with his brother, Charles. The Murphys first attended a church built around 1855 that was located ten miles east of Minden. 

Murphy reports that the first mass held in Minden was in 1866 in the home of P.W. Paul. For the next few years, Father Jean Pierre would come from Shreveport to hold mass in the home of Mr. Krapp. By 1872, the congregation had grown large enough to require a church building. Father Pierre secured the funds necessary for the purchase of a lot on Broadway where Seeds Women’s Center is currently located. This lot included a structure identified by Mr. Murphy as having previously been the home and business of Mr. P.W. Paul. This building seems to have had an interesting history of its own.

According to Mat Murphy, the building had been purchased by P.W. Paul from Mr. Drake, which Mr. Drake is not specified. It is said that the building was originally located on the site of the Bank of Minden, now Under Dawgs, and that Mr. Drake had used it as a store or a home. As it has yet to be determined where the Drakes originally lived, this information could provide a clue. Or, this building could have been the original Drake store as it was said to have been sold to make way for a larger store. 

What is certain is that this building, purchased with funds raised by Father Pierre, served as St. Ann’s Catholic Church for thirty-two years. In 1904, due to its deteriorating condition it was torn down and replaced with the structure in the photograph. Twenty-nine years later this building was destroyed by the tornado of 1933 at which time the brick building still standing at the corner of Broadway and Lee Street was built and the name of the church was changed to St. Paul’s.

(Jessica Gorman is the Executive Director for the Dorcheat Historical Association Museum, Webster Parish Historian, and an avid genealogist.)