A photo of one of the tombs in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, the most famous cemetery in New Orleans, Louisiana

Top 5 Tombs to See in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1.

Strange as it may seem, one of the most common tourist attractions in New Orleans are the city’s cemeteries. Author and steamboat captain Mark Twain once referred to them as the Cities of the Dead, and the nickname has stuck over a hundred years later.

You see, the nickname simply makes sense. The cemeteries of New Orleans are not commonly found elsewhere in the United States. For one, they aren’t dug six feet under the ground’s surface. Thanks to New Orleans’ high water table, below ground graves were quickly discarded by early colonists after they realized that, more often than not, those coffins popped back up after a heavy rain shower.

No doubt that seeing their deceased relatives after the burial caused quite a scandalous shock.

So necessity made it so that the deceased were placed inside aboveground tombs, safe from the treacherous water under the top soil—but, also showcasing Colonial French and Spanish tradition. If you were to find yourself over in Europe, many of the cemeteries would appear just the same as those here in the Crescent City.

There are nearly forty cemeteries in all of the New Orleans Metro Area, but perhaps the most famous is St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. Located on the cusp of the French Quarter on Basin Street, St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. claims famous Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau as one of the most famous people interred within, as well as architect and pirate Barthelemy Lafon, and (supposedly) the remains of Madame Delphine LaLaurie.

Despite these rather famous names, there are a few other top tombs that must be seen when visiting St. Louis Cemetery No. 1.

Here are our Top 5 Tombs to See in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 (in no particular order):

The Tomb of Etienne de Bore (1740-1820):

Although Etienne de Bore is generally a name not bandied about anywhere else than in high school classrooms, his was a name that everyone knew in eighteenth century Louisiana.

Born in the Illinois Territory of Louisiana, Etienne was a descendant of old Norman nobility.  Etienne was treated to the custom of French Creole boys in the French colony and shipped off to France for an education. In fact, his ancestry was so well-off that upon completing schooling Etienne was named one of the King of France’s Mousquetaires (guardsmen).

Since the title of Mousquetaire was off-limits to those not of the nobility, you can imagine the prestige that came with the position. (And probably the wealth, too).

When Etienne returned to Louisiana in 1768 it was only to realize that nothing was as how he’d left it. For one, it was no longer French as the Spanish had purchased the territory.

And secondly, it was no longer French.

As Etienne was a French Creole to his very core, he purchased a ticket and made his way back to Paris where he then became Captain of Cavalry. (Another illustrious title, but would we suspect anything else?) It was only after Etienne’s marriage to Marie Marguerite, who was the daughter of D’Estrehan des Tours and the French Royal Treasurer of New Orleans, that he decided to come back to Louisiana once more.

The de Bore family settled on Marie Marguerite’s inherited plantation six miles upriver from the French Quarter. (Today, Audubon Park comprises the original plantation). Although Etienne attempted to make a go of cultivating Indigo, he realized that it was sugarcane which would make him wealthy.

Which is how Etienne de Bore, once the King’s Mousquetaire and Captain of Cavalry in France, successfully granulated sugarcane in the year 1795 and changed the production of sugar and plantation life forever.

His first batch sold for $12,000, a ridiculous sum of money that solidified Etienne’s station in Louisiana. (And for the reason he is now mentioned in those high school classes). When the Louisiana Purchase was signed in 1803, Etienne was named the first Mayor of New Orleans by the American Governor William C.C. Claiborne.

But once again, Etienne’s distaste of anyone not French (i.e. those uncouth Americans in particular) had him resigning in 1804 after only months in office. He claimed his resignation was due to private affairs, but it was known about town that Etienne had not invested that much effort in building a bridge of tranquility with the newly arrived Americans.

Today, Etienne de Bore’s name is synonymous with the granulation of sugarcane in Louisiana. Upon visiting his tomb, you’ll have the chance to glimpse history in the making—and unfortunately for Etienne, he doesn’t quite have a say as to who is doing the visiting in the afterlife.

The Tomb of William Claiborne (1775-1817):

A native of Virginia, William C.C. Claiborne would ultimately find great success as the first American Governor of Louisiana. In the years leading up to his position as Governor, he had already served on the Tennessee State Supreme Court and as the Governor of the Mississippi Territory. Even prior to Louisiana’s recognized statehood in 1812, Claiborne had stepped into the role of Governor of the Territory of Orleans from 1804 to 1812.

A portrait of Louisiana Governor William C.C. Claiborne
Here is a portrait of Claiborne at the time of his governorship of Louisiana.

Still, throughout all of this time Claiborne was never able to pick up the intricacies of the French language.

(You can imagine that meetings between Etienne de Bore and Claiborne must have been one for the books with translators and miscommunications everywhere . . . enough that Etienne through his hands up in the air and quit, anyway).

Even so, Claiborne is perhaps most well known for his utter hatred and disgust at none other but New Orleans’ beloved privateer Jean Lafitte.

By 1807, Lafitte and his merry band of pirates had been making quite the scene in the French Quarter. So much so that Claiborne was determined to see Lafitte locked up and jailed for not paying his proper taxes, in addition to just doing as he pleased.

Claiborne ordered every citizen of New Orleans to ignore the blasted pirate.

Jean Lafitte was said to have strolled down the streets of the French Quarter with a fashionable walking cane, a hat perched devilishly on his head and a confident swagger.

The ladies all swooned. (From lust, not fear).

Claiborne stewed. (From anger, not resignation).

Claiborne’s next method in taking down the piratical Lafitte came in the form of a Reward.  Listed in newspaper was a notice advertising a reward of $500 for Jean Lafitte’s capture.

Not to be outdone, Lafitte posted his own advertisement claiming $5,000 (some sources argue $2,500) for whomever could capture Governor Claiborne himself.

As one might imagine, Claiborne was not pleased by this change of events.

Unfortunately, it was not Jean Lafitte who was ultimately caught but his brother Pierre. One has to wonder if Claiborne figured any Lafitte brother would do. As it happened, Pierre Lafitte escaped the Old Parish Prison on September 7, 1814, and another newspaper ad was posted, this time offering a $1,000 Reward for the capture of Pierre.

When the Battle of New Orleans broke out in 1815, Jean Lafitte was propositioned by the British to become one of their sea captains. But Lafitte had alliances to Louisiana and so after telling the Redcoats that he needed time to “think,” he traveled from his smuggling operation base in Barataria Bay to New Orleans. He hoped to speak with Claiborne and offer his own services.

Claiborne had had enough and rejected the offer immediately.

As the more popular aspect of the story goes, Lafitte was then approached by General Andrew Jackson and agreed to lend his pirates to the cause. As they say, without the pirates the Battle of New Orleans would not have been won.

And as for Governor Claiborne, he continued to serve out his term of Governor until 1816 when he then was elected to the U.S. Senate. Unfortunately, less than a year later Claiborne passed away from a liver infection and was interred in a tomb in the Protestant Section of St. Louis Cemetery No. 1.

There’s a bit of speculation as to whether his body was later moved to Metairie Cemetery with the rest of his descendants, or whether his remains have stayed in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. Either way, his tomb can still be found in the back of the cemetery and is well worth a stop.

The Tomb of Daniel Clark (1766-1813):

If Etienne de Bore was a born-and-bred French Creole, and Claiborne was an American living in a city that was decidedly French and Spanish, then Daniel Clark was perhaps a blend of the two.

A portrait of Daniel Clark, a statesman of 19th century New Orleans, Louisiana
Said to be a photo of Daniel Clark, there is no evidence of any other portraits of him existing.

Born in Ireland in 1766, Daniel Clark made his first trek to Louisiana at the young age of twenty. Upon his arrival, it soon became apparent that Clark would know much success in the Louisiana Territory. He was fluent in Spanish and French; had connections with the Governor’s office; and, after a few short years in which his merchant business thrived, he became one of the wealthiest men in town.

During the mid-1790s he was bestowed the title of Vice-Consul for the United States. Not only was he personably responsible for convincing Spain to lessen their grip on trade in the port of New Orleans, but he also had a hand in (or so they say) convincing Thomas Jefferson that it was a brilliant idea to purchase the Louisiana Territory.

The Louisiana Purchase was signed at the governing seat, the Cabildo, in 1803. As for Clark, his work within the political and economic field was not over in New Orleans.

But when William Claiborne was elected governor in 1804, Clark was furious. He felt as though the position belonged to him, that he should have been elected in Claiborne’s stead. His anger was demonstrated by the fact that he “left” the Americans to side with the French Creoles as they fought for political control of Louisiana.

Then, matters became only more convoluted when rumors spread that Daniel Clark had involved himself in the conspiracy to separate the southwest from the United States with Aaron Burr. It’s not known how involved Clark was with Aaron Burr’s traitorous plans, but his political career was effectively over due to the rumormongering all over the city.

Allegedly Governor Claiborne verbally accused Clark of this involvement, and the hot-tempered Clark took great offense. What ensued was a very public duel in June 1807 with Clark shooting his biggest foe. The Louisiana Gazette wrote of the event: “A duel was fought on Monday last, near Manchac Fort, between his Excellency Governor Claiborne and Daniel Clark, Esq. The first fire the Governor received Mr. Clark’s bell through his right. His Excellency has reached town, and is out of danger.”

It’s safe to assume that one’s career does not make it past shooting a man referred to as “His Excellency.”

By 1810, Daniel Clark had completely retired from the political sphere in New Orleans and passed away in 1813.

Ironically enough, Daniel Clark’s tomb in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. can be found just a few paces away from the Claiborne family tomb.

As they say: Enemies in life, neighbors in death.

(They don’t say this, but they ought to for these two men).

The Tomb of Homer Plessy (1862-1925):

Plessy vs. Ferguson is a US Supreme Court case generally known throughout the United States. It was referenced in 1954 when the US Supreme Court passed the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education.

Here is an early photo of the civil activist Homer Plessy.
Here is an early photo of the civil activist Homer Plessy.

But who was Homer Plessy?

A New Orleans native, Plessy was born in 1862 to two “white” parents. In the Crescent City he would have then been called a gen de couleur libre, or a free person of color. His great-grandmother had been brought to Louisiana from Africa, making him 1/8th African. And, more importantly, 1/8th that was not white.

Like many other gens de couleur libres in New Orleans, Homer Plessy’s family passed as white but Homer refused. By trade he was a shoemaker, but he was more than just that. From a young age, Plessy involved himself in social activism groups. In 1887, he served as the Vice President of the Justice, Protective, Educational and Social Club, whose mission it was to reform the city’s public education system.

However, it was in 1896 that Plessy’s determination to create a wholly equal environment attracted national awareness.

Just a few years earlier in 1890, the Louisiana government had given the green-light for the Separate Car Act. The Act relegated separate cars for those who were white and those who were black. Plessy, on behalf of the Citizens’ Committee, purchased a first-class ticket on the East Louisiana Railroad in 1892 and sat down in the “whites only” section of the car.

The conductor began checking tickets and apparently thought nothing of Homer Plessy seated there. Based on appearances alone, Homer looked just like the fellow seated beside him or the woman two rows up. It was then that Plessy announced that he was indeed 1/8th black.

The conductor demanded that Plessy move to the “appropriate” car. Homer adamantly refused.

Homer Plessy was thrown out of the train and was subsequently imprisoned for the remainder of the night. The next day he was released on a $500 bond.

Plessy protested the violation of his 13th and 14 Amendment Rights and promptly found himself in court against Judge John Howard Ferguson. Ironically, it is said that Judge Ferguson agreed with Plessy’s arguments but caved under the pressure of his peers. Plessy was deemed guilty, and the case rose all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1896.

There the infamous Separate But Equal Law was pushed and instated by Justice William Billings Brown. It argued the legality of segregation, as well as the Jim Crow laws, as long as each race’s public facilities were made equal.

Following the national case, Plessy returned to New Orleans wherein he worked as an insurance salesman. He passed away in 1925, but it was his determination and steadfast courage that inspired the formation of the NAACP, the Civil Rights Movement, and the later turning of the case during Brown vs. Board of Education in 1954.

His tomb can be found in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1., and shouldn’t be missed.

The Tomb of Paul Morphy (1837-1884):

Better known as the unofficial World Champion of Chess, Paul Morphy literally changed the game of chess during the nineteenth century, and he did so before the age of twenty.

An early photo of Paul Morphy, International Chess Player, dated to 1859.
International Chess Champion Paul Morphy around the year 1859.

At just nine years old, Paul Morphy sat with his father and uncle in their home in New Orleans (the current location of Brennan’s Restaurant) as the two older gentlemen played chess. After a few hours, the elder Morphy’s declared it a day and went to put the chess pieces away. Paul, however, reached out a hand and began to explain how and all the ways his uncle could have won had he played differently.

Paul Morphy had never once played chess before but his natural talent for the game was unheard of.

When Major General Winfield Scott came to stay in the Crescent City before continuing on to the Mexican War, he demanded to play against the city’s best chess player. He was brought Paul Morphy—who, as it happened, was wearing a lace shirt and velvet knickerbockers. Murphy ended the game in just ten moves.

Paul Morphy’s aptitude for the game of chess swept the country and he was deemed a prodigy. Hungarian political refugee Johann J. Lowenthal arrived in New Orleans to play Morphy, as well. Lowenthal was well known in Europe as being a fantastic chess player, but like everyone before him, was no match for the unbeatable Morphy.

After attending school at Spring Hill College in Alabama, Paul returned to New Orleans with the hopes of attending the University of Louisiana for law. As he wasn’t even twenty-one, the university did not allow him to enroll yet.

Naturally, Paul Morphy returned to the game of chess. Not, however, because he had any particular liking for it but because he hoped to continue trouncing his opponents. He did so with Louis Paulsen, who frustrated Morphy by taking nearly 75 minutes on just a single move, and then hoped to tackle the legendary Howard Staunton next.

An Englishman, Staunton refused to travel to New Orleans for the match as it was too far—even with the lucrative deal of an all-expense paid trip and a thousand dollar bonus should he lose to Paul. The rejection annoyed Morphy, but no matter, he would simply travel to England.

Staunton continued to ignore Morphy’s invitations. One month turned into two, and two turned into three. Completely exasperated, Morphy traveled to Paris to continue with his European Chess Tour. He even competed in a blind tournament, in which Morphy sat in a room facing the wall, and his eight opponents all sat together in a different room. In order to make a play, he would call out his moves. He did so in French, to boot.

The tournament lasted ten long hours, and Morphy did not eat or drink the entire time. Still, he was declared the winner against all eight other men.

The name “Paul Morphy” became internationally synonymous with the game of chess.

When he returned to New Orleans, it was only to find that the Civil War had broken out. He traveled to Richmond, Virginia to speak with his family friend, General P.G.T. Beauregard about contributing to the cause. But Morphy was slim in frame and only 5’4”. With little evidence, it’s been assumed that Beauregard turned Morphy away.

Morphy never quite recovered. While he traveled Europe and continued to play chess, his heart was not in it and he felt extreme anxiety. He’d since attempted to open a law office but potential clients were always more interested in playing a game of chess. His offices were then shut down.

Soon, he began to fear being poisoned; being watched. Sometimes, if he caught sight of a woman he particularly fancied, he would follow her for hours . . . though always at a distance. He would not eat food unless it had been prepared by his mother or sister.

And then, in the late 1870s, Paul Morphy allegedly ran through the streets of the French Quarter with an axe clutched in one hand. He threatened to kill the first person who crossed him, and he did so all without wearing a single stitch of clothing.

The chess prodigy had succumbed to madness, and it was while taking a bath in 1884 that Paul Morphy suffered a stroke and passed away.

For all chess fans out there, you may fight Paul Morphy’s tomb in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1., in which you can pay your respects.

Did you enjoy hearing about some of the interesting people who are buried in New Orleans’ oldest cemetery? If so, we highly suggest taking a cemetery tour! Due to laws instated by the Archdiocese of New Orleans, St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. has been closed off to the general public since 2014. Should you choose to venture inside, it must be done with a tour guide—don’t let this deter you in visiting New Orleans’ most famous City of the Dead!

Making the Case for Homer Plessy

This past May I decided to take a historic walking tour with a local company, not Explore Historic New Orleans,  that had access to enter St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. The cemetery, located along the edge of the French Quarter on Basin Street, features graves from as early as the 18th century with iconic above ground vaults. Effective March 1, the Archdiocese of New Orleans closed the cemetery to the general public and limited admission to the families of the interred and tourists accompanied by a licensed tour guide. Before this mandate, I would frequent the cemetery whenever I wanted, but this time I had to go with a guide.

I had heard and read that Homer Plessy was buried at this cemetery.  Earlier attempts to find the grave were interrupted by tourist watching at the tomb of Marie Laveau, better known as New Orleans’ Voodoo Queen, or general dawdling through rows of vaults. I never could find Plessy’s tomb on my own, so when I booked my tour I was sure I could rely on the eyes of a professional to point it out to me. May 16th came sooner than I expected and I entered St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 like I had so many times before, except this time with a certified professional.

“Now ladies,” with a nasally inflection, “as we approach the back of the cemetery we will enter the Protestant section.” I followed the group, staying a little behind as a habit.  But as I followed, I happened to casually looked to my right and see Homer Adolph Plessy’s nameplate.

“Holy shit, it’s Homer Plessy!” flew out my mouth like a word vomit.  The two other women on our tour looked back at me, only to continue to hurry towards our guide in the Protestant section. While I followed my group for the rest of the tour, I remained distracted by our tour guide’s complete dismissal of Homer Plessy. Now, I am a history student, so I’m the first to admit I can get pretentious on a snap when it comes to history, but when it came to the story of Plessy and the doctrine of “separate but equal,” I was astonished when it went overlooked. 

Homer Adolph Plessy is known for his role in the 1896 Supreme Court Case Plessy v Ferguson. The ruling established the doctrine of “separate but equal” that legitimized Jim Crow era segregation until its reversal with Brown v Board of Education, in 1954. Born in 1862, Plessy witnessed a number of changes in Louisiana’s race relations throughout his lifetime. But, his decision to challenge segregation on a train in June of 1892 is a mere thread in the intricate history of both African Americans and civil disobedience in New Orleans after the Civil War.

In many ways, Plessy’s decision to sit in a whites-only railroad car did not aim to pressure Louisiana law into new and unchartered civil rights territory.  Homer Plessy sat to defend the rights he had before the passage of the Separate Car Act of 1890.  The decades between 1865 and 1890 granted the black population of New Orleans many freedoms not previously allotted.  This is not to say that segregation and discrimination did not exist in this brief era—African Americans were plagued by the reality of racial inequality—but before the advent of Jim Crow legislation, the lines were a bit unclear. 

During Reconstruction, Radical Republicans in Louisiana pushed for the passage of civil rights legislation that provided additional legal freedoms to Free Persons of Color and freed slaves.  Four months before the 14th amendment became federal law, in 1868, Louisiana had rewritten their state constitution to guarantee the black population’s equal political and civil rights and to desegregate publically funded schools.  Members of the black population now served on juries, in the state legislature, and in the Governor’s office.

But in 1871, when black students began to enter formerly all-white schools, the Metairie Racecourse sanctioned segregated seating on its grounds. And although Governor P B S Pitchback served from December 1872 to January 1873, five violent massacres and riots in 1873-1874 made it clear that Louisiana was in no way a safe haven for Southern blacks.  Louisiana’s history between 1865 and 1877 features a complicated mix of civil rights and unequal social norms.  When the Compromise of 1877 ended Reconstruction and removed Radical Republicans from positions of power in Southern state governments, racial lines in Louisiana, and specifically New Orleans got a bit more puzzling.

By 1879, two years after the end of Reconstruction, the state legislature ratified a new constitution that returned Louisiana to home rule and called for restricted rights for black voters.  But these legal terms had little effect in certain social spheres—most notably on trains. George Washing Cable wrote, in The Negro Question, “In Louisiana, certain railway trains and steamboats run side by side, within a mile of one another, where in the trains a Negro or mulatto may sit where he will, and on the boats he must confine himself to a separate quarter called the ‘Fredman’s bureau.’”

In 1882 when the Louisiana and Nashville Railroad added a separate black waiting room in its New Orleans depot, communities demanded the company end this policy.  The Weekly Louisianian reported that within the year the railroad company complied.  By 1887, our main character, Homer Plessy had become vice president of the Justice, Protective, Educational and Social Club in New Orleans—an organization dedicated to educational reform.  At the age of 25, Plessy was well aware of the blurred racial order in New Orleans that pinned blacks to second class citizenry while achieving mild integration. 

With the passage of the Separate Car Act of 1890, the unclear lines of segregation came into a stark focus. The Comite des Citoyans, or Citizens’ Committee, formed the following year to challenge the growing influence of racial segregation, and more specifically, the Separate Car Act.  But, by time that the Comite des Citoyans asked Plessy to board a whites-only train car, they had experienced their first blow.  Before Homer Plessy, the committee asked Daniel Desdunes to challenge the Separate Car Act. On February 24, 1892, Desdune boarded a white car on the Lousiana and Nashville railroad after purchasing a first class ticket.  The committee believed Desdunes would cause a legal stir because his trip attempted to cross state lines, ending in Montgomery, AL.  Daniel Desdunes was arrested and later released on a $500 bond.  All charges against Daniel Desdunes were dropped before the Comite des Citoyans’ legal team could attempt to challenge the constitutionality of the law.  It was decided the Separate Car Act held no legitimacy when crossing state lines. Judge John Ferguson of the Criminal District Court of Orleans Parish called for Desdunes’ release.

On June 7 of the same year, the Comite des Citoyans attempted again to challenge the law, this time with Homer Plessy.  He purchased a ticket on the East Louisiana Railroad from New Orleans to Covington, purposefully remaining within the state, and sat in a whites-only car. When the conductor reached for Plessy’s ticket, Plessy notified him that despite his light complexion, he was only 7/8 white. When asked to move to the blacks-only car, Homer Plessy refused.  Judge Ferguson, who ordered the release of Desdunes, convicted Plessy of breaking the law. The Louisiana Supreme Court refused to grant a rehearing.  A potential writ of error allowed the case to move up to the Supreme Court of the United States in April 1896, four years later. On May 18, 1896, Justice Henry Billings Brown delivered the majority opinion that “separate but equal” was constitutional. By 1898, Louisiana redrafted their constitution to segregate the public schools and disenfranchise black voters. Within two years, Jim Crow laws made it clear that the races would be separated.

On my walk back to the car from Basin Street, I couldn’t help but think of the guide’s missed opportunity to discuss a complex portion of New Orleans’ history. Tour guides may not have time to go into too much depth in 90 minute tours, but a disregard to certain aspects of African American history might be why so many believe the Civil Rights Movement began when Rosa Parks refused to move from her seat on a bus 63 years later. It was a similar message, but with a different carrier—or in this case, mode of transportation.  When the Archdioceses of New Orleans required licensed guides to interpret the historic St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, it raised the question of what histories would be told and which we would walk swiftly past.    

Rule Changes for St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 in New Orleans

St. Louis Cemetery Changes Rules for Visitors

Yesterday, the Archdiocese of New Orleans announced new rules regarding visiting St. Louis Cemetery #1 which are sure to make a lot of people unhappy. Starting March 1st, visitors to New Orleans will no longer be allowed to visit St. Louis Cemetery #1 without a tour guide. This means that you’ll no longer be able to simply walk into St. Louis Cemetery #1 to explore it on your own. You’ll have to join a New Orleans Cemetery Tour to see St. Louis Cemetery #1. While we understand why the Archdiocese has been forced to make some changes to the way St. Louis Cemetery #1 works, we don’t agree with the way they have chosen to do so.

Vandalism in St. Louis Cemetery #1

The main reason that the Archdiocese has been forced to rewrite the rules for visiting St. Louis Cemetery #1 is vandalism. Nobody would even try to argue this point. There is a lot of vandalism inside of St. Louis Cemetery #1, much of it pretty unbelievable. Tombs and graves have been taken apart in an effort to show tourists the bodies that are inside, they have been marked and written on. There have even been instances of people removing parts of the tombs, such as bricks and markers, to take home as souvenirs. This behavior is absolutely unacceptable, and it is time for something to be done to stop it.

The Archdiocese of New Orleans is pledging to revamp the security efforts at St. Louis Cemetery #1 to eliminate vandalism within this historic cemetery. Tour Companies who take their guests into St. Louis Cemetery will now undergo a screening process. Each tour guide will need to be registered with the office at the Archdiocese. Every Tour company will also need to show proof of liability insurance. The new security efforts at St. Louis Cemetery #1 will include round the clock security and a guard at the gate to ensure that only registered tour companies can enter the Cemetery. At a meeting with representatives of the Archdiocese yesterday, we were also told that they plan on installing security cameras to help prevent trespassers at night, which is a big problem. However, all of these new security solutions come with a price, a price they are passing on to the tour companies who bring their guests into St. Louis Cemetery #1. Tour companies will be required to pay $4500 per year to bring our tour groups inside of the Cemetery. This is also the most controversial part of the new plan, aside from eliminating access to the Cemetery for people who are not on tours. It will essentially put a lot of smaller companies out of business, who cannot afford this new fee.

You Can’t Just Walk in Anymore

The most controversial aspect of the Archdiocese’s new plan is to not allow anyone to enter St. Louis Cemetery #1 without being accompanied by a tour guide. This essentially eliminates the opportunity to simply enter the Cemetery on your own and explore at your own leisure. And this is a shame. Myself, personally, I love going over to the Cemetery and taking my time to explore this historic Cemetery. Even I will no longer be allowed to do this. The backlash from the public has been pretty severe. At a meeting yesterday we were told by the Archdiocese representative that arrangements will be made to allow family members of those buried inside of St. Louis Cemetery #1 to visit their relatives, calming some of the backlash. However, no exceptions will be made for any tourist, which means that starting in March, if you want to see the sights of St. Louis Cemetery #1, you’ll need to join a tour group.

Here at Discover Historic America, we are exploring some options when it comes to our Cemetery Tours. We understand why the Archdiocese is doing what they’re doing, but we wish they would have asked for input from the tour companies and the public before making their decision. There are numerous other options for provided security for the Cemetery while maintaining flexibility. We know there are a lot of tourists who want to visit St. Louis Cemetery #1. So, in the next 30 days we will be looking at new ways to add tours at St. Louis Cemetery #1. We believe that you’ll appreciate the new options for touring St. Louis Cemetery #1 that we will announce once we have figured out all of the details.

In Conclusion

The bottom line is, St. Louis Cemetery does deserve protection. The vandalism that takes place there is unacceptable and needs to be stopped in order to protect this historic landmark. Explore Historic New Orleans is happy to support the Archdiocese when it comes to protecting this historic landmark. It is unfortunate that you will not be allowed to enter St. Louis Cemetery #1 on your own anymore. While this may see us getting an increase in business, we would prefer that this didn’t happen.

We remain committed to showing you the real historic New Orleans on our tours. We will be exploring a few different options that will allow you to visit St. Louis Cemetery #1 in the most convenient manner possible. Added tour times, different tour options..we remain committed to working with you to show you the historical landmark which is St. Louis Cemetery #1.