Andres Almonaster y Rojas
Don Andrés Almonaster y Rojas (sometimes also Almonester and Roxas) (June 19, 1724 in Mairena del Alcor, Spain – April 26, 1798 in New Orleans, Luisiana) 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, being the son of Don Miguel José Almonester and Maria Joanna de Estrada y Rojas, he came to Louisiana in 1769, during 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 city councilman, and afterwards bought the office of alferez real or royal standard bearer. He was an old man when he married Louise de la Ronde, a young white French Creole girl, in the parish church, Iglesia San Luis, 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. The Church of Saint Louis was dedicated in 1794, becoming a cathedral the following year, and was never pulled down as some sources may say. In 1849 the cathedral 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' remains still lie in the cathedral, entombed in the floor with one of his two daughters, four-year-old Andrea.
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-considerable cost of $114,000. He rebuilt 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 Avenue is named in his honor.
- His daughter Micaela Almonester, Baroness de Pontalba
- Octavio Gil Munilla - Participación de España en la génesis histórica de los Estados Unidos - 1963 - Page 33 "Un ilustre andaluz, don Andrés Almonaster y Rojas, fundó el Hospital Real, una iglesia, una escuela,"
- The Hispanic World, 1492-1898: A Guide - Estela Guadalupe Jiménez Codinach, Library of Congress - 1994 - Page 347 "Andrés Almonaster y Rojas"
- Biographical sketch on a website in Mairena del Alcor, Spain, in Spanish