Standing in the shadow of St. Louis Cathedral in the heart of the Vieux Carré, St. Anthony’s Garden is one of the city’s oldest garden spaces. Its history dates back to the early seventeenth century, serving a range of public and private uses, including a potager for Capuchin monks, a dueling site, and a shelter for fire victims. In 1831, the city bought the narrow strips of land on each side of Orleans Street behind the Cathedral and closed off that section of the street, creating a public square. The space functioned as such until 1848, when it was deeded to the Cathedral trustees, who erected an iron fence around the square and managed it as a private garden. In 1941, architect Richard Koch, in collaboration with landscape architect William Wiedorn, designed boxwood-lined pathways for the garden. In 2002, Alvarez + Basik Design Group added a brick patio area and renovated the garden, replacing damaged magnolia trees and introducing camellias, azaleas, and antique rose varieties.
Following damage from Hurricane Katrina, a site excavation was completed, and French landscape designer Louis Benech was hired to renew the garden in 2008. His design employs a geometric arrangement of clipped hedges that mimic the gridded plan of the Vieux Carré. A red brick pathway lines the garden’s perimeter, with a cross-shaped, mowed area in the center and four squares of ornamental grass arranged in a geometric pattern. Botanical choices are informed by records of plant exchanges between Louisiana and France during the eighteenth century. Other notable features include a stone obelisk and a marble statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.