Mission & History

Save Our Cemeteries Tombs Logo

Mission Statement:
Save Our Cemeteries is dedicated to the preservation, promotion, and protection of New Orleans’ historic cemeteries through restoration, education, and advocacy.

In 1974, the Archdiocese of New Orleans* announced a plan to destroy the wall vaults surrounding St. Louis Cemetery No. 2 and replace them with a chain-link fence. The preservation community was incensed.

Save Our Cemeteries was created in response to this threat, but the organization quickly realized the problem of cemetery neglect was not limited to just one cemetery.

Key accomplishments of Save Our Cemeteries include:

  • Securing historic designation for St. Louis Cemeteries No. 1 and No. 2, and Odd Fellows Rest, maximizing their potential for future grant funding.
  • Introducing successful legislation for the creation of a statewide trust fund for historic cemetery preservation.
  • Partnering with the Historic New Orleans Collection to collect and record historic tombstones from St. Louis Cemeteries No. 1 and No. 2.
  • Replacement of the broken closure tablet on the Homer Plessy (of Plessy v. Fergusson) Tomb in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1.
  • Complete restoration of the Glapion Family Tomb – also known as the Marie Laveau Tomb in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1.
  • Recording tablet closure information from all of the tombs in the three squares of St. Louis Cemetery No. 2 in partnership with Xavier University, to be for used for future genealogical research.
  • The completion of a conditions survey of all four squares of Lafayette Cemetery No. 1.
  • Introducing thousands of visitors to the local historic cemeteries through our cemetery tour program.
  • Hosting four lectures per year and an annual Cemetery Seminar, focusing on topics such as cemetery history, funeral and burial customs, historical figures, architecture, and cemetery preservation.
  • Assisting tomb owners with information on how to restore tombs using materials suitable for historic tombs.
  • Completing millions of dollars worth of capital improvements in the cemeteries, including:
    • Completion of repairs to the French Society tomb in St. Louis No. 1
    • Completion of repairs to over 80 tombs in Lafayette No. 1, including the Jefferson Fire Company and Chalmette Fire Company society tomb, and the Taylor Family Tomb.
    • Stabilization and repairs to the wall vaults surrounding St. Louis No. 2.
    • Ironwork fence restoration in St. Louis No. 1 and 2 and Lafayette No. 1 and 2.
    • Stabilization and repairs to the wall vaults along the Washington Avenue entrance at Lafayette No. 1.
    • Stabilization and repairs to the wall vaults surrounding Odd Fellows Rest.
    • Dedicating a monument honoring war veterans buried in Holt Cemetery.
    • Creating a conditions survey and GIS map of St. Louis No. 1, and stabilization of 35 tombs in imminent danger of collapse (in partnership with the University of Pennsylvania and Save America’s Treasures)
    • Preserving the unique ironwork gates on the French Butcher’s Society Tomb in Lafayette Cemetery No. 2
    • Closing and repairing approximately 48 vaults in Lafayette Cemeteries No. 1 and 2, and Valence Street Cemetery through the recent “Open Tombs Project”
    • With the help of dedicated volunteers, conducting several clean-up/beautification projects throughout the year in several local cemeteries.

*Today, the Archdiocese is one of the greatest partners of Save Our Cemeteries in our quest to preserve & protect the cemeteries, and the wall vaults surrounding St. Louis No. 2 have been stabilized and repaired.