Mission & History
Save Our Cemeteries is dedicated to the preservation, promotion, and protection of New Orleans’ historic cemeteries through restoration, education, and advocacy.
In 1974, a plan was proposed to demolish the wall vaults surrounding St. Louis Cemetery No. 2 and replace them with chain-link fencing. The preservation community was incensed.
Local preservationist Mary Louise Christovich and a group of dedicated citizens formed Save Our Cemeteries as an advocacy organization in response to the proposal. Eventually, Save Our Cemeteries partnered with the Archdiocese by assisting with fundraising, creating awareness, and recruiting professional masons to assist. Demolition was halted, and the walls were not only saved but stabilized and repaired.
Save Our Cemeteries quickly realized the problem of cemetery neglect was not limited to just one cemetery and began working towards restoring tombs and vaults throughout the city.
Key accomplishments of Save Our Cemeteries include:
- Securing historic designation for St. Louis Cemeteries No. 1 and No. 2, and Odd Fellows Rest on The National Register of Historic Places
- Introducing successful legislation for the creation of a statewide trust fund for historic cemetery preservation
- Partnering with the Historic New Orleans Collection to survey 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
- Restoration of the Glapion Family Tomb – also known as the Marie Laveau Tomb in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1
- Restoration of the Alaux tomb in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1
- Restoration of the cast iron Karstendiek tomb in Lafayette Cemetery No. 1
- Restoration of the Taylor tomb in Lafayette 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 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 lectures throughout the year, 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 maintain and restore tombs using materials suitable for historic structures
- Completing millions of dollars worth of capital improvements in the cemeteries, including:
- Repairs to the French Society tomb in St. Louis No. 1
- Repairs to over 80 tombs in Lafayette No. 1, including the Jefferson Fire Company and Chalmette Fire Company society tombs.
- 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 and installing signs in Holt Cemetery in partnership with the University of New Orleans Department of Anthropology and Sociology
- 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 98 vaults in Lafayette Cemeteries No. 1 and 2, and Valence Street Cemetery through the “Open Tombs Project”
- Brick repair on dozens of tombs and copings in Carrollton Cemeteries 1 and 2
- With the help of dedicated volunteers, conducted several cleanup/beautification projects throughout the year in many local cemeteries
Save Our Cemeteries: Bringing New Orleans' Cities of the Dead Back to Life