St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is the oldest and most famous of of three Roman Catholic cemeteries in New Orleans, Louisiana. Most of the graves are above-ground vaults constructed in the 18th and 19th centuries.
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.
Burial plots are shallow in New Orleans because the water table is very high. Dig a few feet down and the grave becomes soggy…filling with water. The casket will literally float! Eventually New Orleans’ graves were kept above ground, following the Spanish custom of using vaults.
The cemetery spans just one square block but is the resting place of many thousands. Cities Of The Dead. A Protestant section (generally not vaulted) lies in the northwest section.
During a visit to New Orleans me and my friend ,Rhonda, explored the cemetery with Haunted History Tours. Our guide was Ernie,he’s the absolute best! We had him for two tours this trip,both excellent! The tours generally meet up at Pat O’s. We sat around,acting goofy and eating pralines until it started 🙂 People watching is awesome here.
For the tour they give you skull fans. These were well needed,it felt like 1000 degrees out and we were going to be doing a lot of walking. They also make great props for photos,hehe.
The tour started with some history about the area,the land. I didn’t realize we’d be getting all that as well. I just thought we’d be hitting the cemetery. I love history! As you learn you’re getting closer and closer to St.Louis No.1
Walking through the gates here,it’s almost like the air changes. Even in a group of people,everything felt still.
Movies like,Easy Rider,were filmed in this cemetery. It seems after that though,they no longer allowed it. The actors got a little too friendly with the vaults,we were told. This one mainly…
Walking freely you can discover many things in this City Of The Dead… see how the dead are honored here.
A main draw for many is the tomb of Marie Laveau, a Creole practitioner of Voodoo who is renowned in New Orleans.
Tourists continue to visit and some draw “X” marks in accordance with a decades-old rumor that if people wanted Laveau to grant them a wish, they had to draw an “X” on the tomb, turn around three times, knock on the tomb, yell out their wish, and if it was granted, come back, circle their “X,” and leave Laveau an offering.
As of March 1, 2015 there is no longer public access to St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. Entry with a tour guide is required. This change was made by the Archdiocese of New Orleans to protect the tombs of the Laveau family as well as those of the many other dead interred there. Continued vandalism and destruction of tombs forced them to do so.
St. Louis No 1 is truly a beautiful place. If you are in New Orleans,it’s well worth a visit. You can’t beat the history and architecture!
Until the next adventure….