New Orleans Closing Cemetery In Garden District For Repairs

Sep 9, 2019

The city of New Orleans is closing a historic cemetery in the Garden District for maintenance and repairs.

Tours and public visits won't be allowed until the work is complete at Lafayette Cemetery No. 1. Appointments will be needed for funerals or visits to family tombs.

The work starts Monday in the cemetery, which takes up the city block across from the famous Commander's Palace restaurant.

Tomb owners can call the property management department for appointments, according to a news release sent Friday.

Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 is the oldest city-owned cemetery in New Orleans, though it was in a separate city, Lafayette, when it opened in 1833.

These days, its most famous tomb is fictional. Novelist Anne Rice chose the cemetery as the site for her Mayfair witches' family tomb. And in "Interview with the Vampire," Lestat de Lioncourt hides valuables in the cemetery. (Another book in the series locates his empty tomb in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, which is owned by the Archdiocese of New Orleans and is the city's oldest cemetery.)

The real graves in Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 include those of a Union general, a Confederate general and a state judge involved in Plessy v. Ferguson, a case in which the U.S. Supreme Court eventually upheld a Louisiana segregation law, according to findagrave.com.

Planned work includes fixing a water line, improving drainage, removing and repaving paths, fixing a brick wall and abandoned tombs, removing magnolia trees and thoroughly cleaning up debris. Spokeswoman LaTonya Norton says officials don't know how long the work will take but will announce when it's done.