Travel Tuesday: St Louis Cemetery 1

St.-Louis-Cemetery-No.-1_Overhead-1024x683

This is on my hotspot to visit, again. I went with Hannu over 10 years ago, so I think I am due for another visit to St Louis Cemetery #1.

St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is the oldest and most famous. It was opened in 1789, replacing the city’s older St. Peter Cemetery (no longer in existence) as the main burial ground when the city was redesigned after a fire in 1788.

It is 8 blocks from the Mississippi River, on the north side of Basin Street, one block beyond the inland border of the French Quarter. It borders the Iberville housing project. It has been in continuous use since its foundation. The nonprofit group Save Our Cemeteries and commercial businesses offer tours for a fee.

Famous New Orleanians buried in St. Louis No. 1 include Etienne de Boré, wealthy pioneer of the sugar industry and the first mayor of New Orleans; Homer Plessy, the plaintiff from the landmark 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court decision on civil rights; and Ernest N. “Dutch” Morial, the first African-American mayor of New Orleans.

The renowned Voodoo priestess Marie Laveau is believed to be interred in the Glapion family crypt. Other notable New Orleanians here include Bernard de Marigny, the French-Creole aristocrat and politician who founded both the Faubourg Marigny and Mandeville, Louisiana; Barthelemy Lafon, the architect and surveyor who allegedly became one of Jean Lafitte’s pirates; and Paul Morphy, one of the earliest world champions of chess. Delphine LaLaurie, the notoriously cruel slave owner, is also believed to lie in rest here. Architect and engineer Benjamin Latrobe was buried at St. Louis No. 1 after dying from yellow fever in 1820, while doing engineering for the New Orleans water works. In 2010, actor Nicolas Cage purchased a pyramid-shaped tomb to be his future final resting place.

The cemetery spans just one square block but is the resting place of many thousands. A Protestant section (generally not vaulted) lies in the northwest section.

Effective March 1, 2015, the Roman Catholic Diocese of New Orleans, which owns and manages this cemetery, has closed it to the general public, ostensibly because of the rise in vandalism there. However, in a controversial move, the diocese is now charging tour companies for access ($4,500 per year, or lesser amounts for short periods). Families who own tombs can apply for a pass to visit.

F. M. Laster

“I only like two kinds of men, domestic and imported.” -Mae West

This entry was posted in Travel Tuesday and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s