Andres Almonaster y Rojas

Andres Almonaster y Rojas

Don Andres Almonaster y Rojas (sometimes also Almonester and Roxas) (born Mairena del Alcor, June 19, 1728; died New Orleans, April 25, 1798) was a Spanish civil servant of New Orleans, today chiefly remembered for his numerous charitable benefactions to the city.

Born of a noble Andalusian family, he came to Louisiana in the early days of the Spanish rule there, and was appointed escribano publico or notary public. As Grace King puts it, it was "an office rich in salary, perquisites, and business opportunities. He soon acquired wealth in it, or through it." Among his investments was a large tract of land downtown, purchased from Governor O'Reilly on perpetual lease.

He became an alcalde or municipal counsellor, and afterwards bought the office of alferez real or royal standard bearer. He was an old man when he married Louise de Laronde, a young Creole girl, in the parish church of New Orleans, in 1787, the year before it was destroyed by fire.

He provided the funds for building New Orleans new parish Church, in which he is buried. This Cathedral was dedicated in 1794 and not pulled down as some sources might say. In 1849 the Church was badly damaged due to the removal of supports which led to the collapse of the center tower. This led to the 1850s remodeled structure as we know it today. Don Andres' still lies in the Cathedral, entombed in the floor with one of his daughters. After the fire of 1788, he built at his own expense a public school for the city, as well as the house for the use of the clergy and the charity hospital at the then very considerable cost of $114,000. He rebuilt the town hall and the Cabildo, the buildings on either side of the cathedral, the hospital, the boys' school, a chapel for the Ursulines, and he founded the Leper Hospital.

New Orleans' Almonaster Road is named in his honor.

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