Artitecture: Lafayette Cemetery in New Orleans
While Eclectix was visiting New Orleans recently, we spent a quiet afternoon strolling through Lafayette Cemetery (No.1) in the Garden District. There isn’t a better way to experience the Cities of the Dead and invoke ghostly vampires than enjoying ye olde tombstones and histories. Time to get your Anne Rice on…
New Orleans is famous for its old cemeteries – the dead were kept above ground for “burial” due to the high ground water level in the region. Many of the tombs are in crumbling beautiful decay, while the ever persistent Mother Nature adorns them in lichen, moss and gnarled roots. Classic carved nameplates are etched in Roman typography, sculptures of Saints top some of the tombs, and decorative urns abound in age-old marble. Ornate wrought iron fences and railings in rusted glory guard the more prestigious occupants.
We hope you enjoy our photographs we’ve shared here… even if you aren’t able to visit in person, this virtual tour ought to wet your fancy. We’ve tried to show some details and special elements from the architecture of the tombs. We were even able to peek into one tomb (second photo, below) and spot some actual bones of the old soul interred within!
The History of Lafayette Cemetery No. 1
Lafayette Cemetery was established in 1833, this area was known as the city of Lafayette. It was part of the Livaudais Sugar Plantation.
Many of those buried in Lafayette #1 died in epidemics that swept through New Orleans and its suburbs in the 1800′s. As a result you will see tablets that state the length of life in detail, e.g., “Jacob J. Wagner departed this life January 4th 1848. Age 33 years 6 months and 4 days.” In 1847, approximately 3000 people died of yellow fever, and Lafayette holds about 613 of those. By 1853, the worst outbreak ever caused more than 8000 deaths, and bodies were often left at the gates of Lafayette.
Lafayette Cemetery holds the remains of citizens from twenty five different countries. The cemetery was never segregated by race, ethnicity, or religious denomination.
In addition to the above ground family tombs, Lafayette has a number of large tombs known as “society” tombs. These are group tombs for members of occupational, ethnic, fraternal, or benevolent associations. Benevolent associations were a way to pool resources and provide affordable burial for members and their families.
Movie companies have filmed a number of productions here. Double Jeopardy, Interview with The Vampire, Skeleton Key and Dracula 2000 are a few of the movies set here.
Link to the Cemetery Location and Map
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