Metairie Cemetery, New Orleans

One of the popular things to do in New Orleans is to visit one of the “cities of dead,” aka unique cemeteries. Due to the low sea level and flooding, most graves in the area are above ground in order to prevent people popping up during a good rainstorm. Being a bit of a taphophile myself, I was super excited to check one of these out during our stay in New Orleans. Arguably the most popular cemetery, St. Louis Cemetery #1, is now open to visitation only by tour groups. The reasoning quoted for this is preservation; if they can make a bit of money in the process, well… So unable to find a suitable tour for my needs, I looked for another cemetery instead – and ended up at the beautiful Metairie Cemetery.

As it turns out, Metairie Cemetery offers plenty of educational beauty. If you stop by the funeral home visitor’s center (small front office on the side of the building facing the road), the nice people will loan you a CD and a map for a self-guided audio tour. It’s also a good place to pick up a bit of the history.

Metairie Cemetery New Orleans Louisiana

Metairie was originally a horse racing track. The story goes that the Metairie Jockey Club refused membership to one Charles T. Howard, a local resident who gained his wealth by starting the first Louisiana State Lottery. After being refused membership, Howard vowed that he would some day buy the track and turn it into a cemetery. True to his curse promise, that’s precisely what happened. You can even still see the oval layout of the track today.

Metairie Cemetery New Orleans Louisiana

From what I understand, Metairie has the largest collection of marble tombs and funeral statuary in New Orleans. I was hooked when I read a TripAdvisor review admiring all the angels – and my oh my are there angels! Maybe one day I’ll be brave enough to expound upon my actual beliefs, but suffice it to say I do believe in angels and love seeing all the different manifestations. The angels in Metairie are no disappointment! They’re standing guard wherever you look – some with books, some with instruments, some peaceful, some sad…all so very elegant. (smile) I could’ve easily spent most of my day just on these beauties, but my dad had other ideas (and when it’s not your car, you learn to compromise!).

There are many other notable tombs in the cemetery including the monument to the Army of Tennessee, Louisiana Division and the former burial site of Jefferson Davis. Metairie is the final resting place of former governors, gamblers, soldiers, politicians, and movie starts – in short, it has a little something someone for everyone. It even has it’s own pyramid!

I’ve always known these types of cemeteries existed in Louisiana, and especially New Orleans, but being able to go and see them for myself was probably the highlight of my trip (I know – as my dad told me without the least hesitancy, I’m weird). We went early in the morning and pretty much had the place to ourselves. You can drive around aimlessly, but I recommend checking in with the staff to learn more about the grounds first. I found everyone to be super helpful and very pleasant. Even if you aren’t all that interested in cemeteries themselves, this one – or any of the others in New Orleans – are still worth a visit. These silent “cities” are very much a part of the local culture and, depending on where you go, you may even run into a Voodoo Queen. (*wink*)

Metairie Cemetery New Orleans Louisiana

 

17 thoughts on “Metairie Cemetery, New Orleans

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  4. I love NOLA. I have always wanted to check out a cemetery there, but never have been able to fit it into my schedule. I’m usually there for work purposes. Love seeing your photos and learning a bit more about this particular one.

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    • If you ever do get a chance, I definitely say go for it! From what I could tell, they all seem equally amazing in terms of the amount of time and effort put into the details. I would love to go back and see more sometime 🙂

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    • No, I imagine collecting skeletons would be a creepy job! I always wonder how long it took them to figure out the best system (so morbid, I know)! I was really glad to see all of the tombs looking so good, nice to think they’re a priority too 🙂

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  5. Great post! I love cemeteries too! The cool ones that have character. There’s so much love put in the architecture of the headstones or in this case the above ground graves (the term is escaping me right now). Nice pics of the angels….my mom loved angels so they were all over the house.

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    • Thank you! It’s comforting to know I’m not alone (and to have a comeback w/my dad – lol) 🙂 I was really taken by surprise just how much thought and detail go into each and every one of these mausoleums/tombs. They definitely give the impression that it’s a family tradition re upkeep and decoration.

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    • Thank you! 🙂 Yes, if you enjoyed Savannah then you’ll definitely enjoy the cemeteries in New Orleans. Those two cities are similar in a lot of ways, but different enough to make both worthwhile destinations.

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  6. Definitely not weird. Or if you are then I am too. 🙂 The tour my friend and I took in one of the cemeteries in New Orleans was hands down my favourite part of that trip. New Orleans wasn’t really my cup of tea overall but I really enjoyed that part. Oh and the food. So delicious!

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    • Lol – good to know that I’m not alone! And oh yes the food! That was probably my second favorite part of the trip! I liked NOLA much better back in college – or at least what I can’t remember of it 🙂 These days I’d rather go to Savannah if given the chance/choice.

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