The Ursulines were the first of many orders of religious women who came to New Orleans and founded schools, orphanages, and asylums and ministered to the needs of the poor. The current structure, a replacement for the original convent, was completed in 1752 and is now the oldest French-colonial building in the Mississippi Valley, having survived the disastrous 18th-century fires that destroyed the rest of the Quarter. St. Mary's Church, adjoining the convent, was
added in 1845. The original tract of land for a convent, school, and gardens covered several French Quarter blocks. Now an archive for the archdiocese, the convent was used by the Ursulines for 90 years. The Ursuline Academy, the convent's girls' school founded in 1727, is now Uptown on State Street, where the newer convent and chapel were built. The academy is the oldest girls' school in the country. The Old Ursuline Convent is open to the public for self-guided tours Monday through Saturday.