Lafayette Cemetery- A New Orleans' Garden District Destination
Hours and Info
Location: 1400 Washington Ave
Hours: M-F 8:00am - 2:30pm
Saturday: 8:00am - noon
Sunday & Holidays: closed
*All photos were taken by and are the property of the author*
From humble beginnings...
The cemetery, and indeed the entire Garden District, were originally part of the Livaudais Plantation. Like several other plantations in the area, it had been sold to developers and cut into small parcels to accommodate the rapid growth of New Orleans.
The Garden District and Uptown areas were settled by incoming Americans who did not get along with their Creole neighbors in the French Quarter but still required access to the Mississippi River for trade. The most affluent settled around the previous plantation and decided they wanted their own township, founding both the city of Lafayette and its cemetery in 1833.
It was a short lived experiment, however-- New Orleans growth absorbed the new city only 19 years later.
A few luminaries of Lafayette No. 1
Several prominent Confederates are buried here, Captain Charles W. McLellan being the best known. Strangely, he was a native of Maine who fought for the South, yet wanted to be buried in his native Maine soil. Legend says that's why the grave is raised as it is.
The broken column reads:
IN MEMORY OF
CAPT. CHAS. W. McLELLAN
CO. F 15TH REGMT. LA. VOL. INFTY.
W.H. & LEONORA McLELLAN
BORN MAY 8, 1842
KILLED IN DEFENCE OF RICHMOND, VA.
JUNE 1ST, 1864
AGED 22 YEARS & 22 DAYS
HE FELL WITHOUT FEAR
AS MANY LOVED ONES FELL
IN DEFENCE OF OUR RIGHTS
Jefferson Fire Company Number 22
One of the few society tombs in Lafayette No.1, this tomb was opened in 1852 for the local fire company and features an amazing pumper car in relief.
Society tombs served a unique function in New Orleans. For many organizations in the city, part of what your dues covered was maintenance and availability of a group tomb. If you didn't have a family tomb to be buried in (or maybe if you just didn't like your family!) you could be buried in the "society's" tomb, be it a club, a fraternal organization, a church or other affiliation.
Society for the Relief of Destitute Orphan Boys
Anne Rice & Lafayette No. 1
It's quite possible that Anne Rice is the cemetery's most famous patron these days- she doesn't have a family tomb there, but the cemetery came up again and again in her books. Best known for her vampire series, main character Lestat hides property here in the cemetery, and one of the tombs was used in the movie "Interview With the Vampire" as where Lestat recovers after being gravely (ha!) injured.
Less widely known, but beloved by fans, her Mayfair Witches series was based on her own Garden District house, just down the street. Not surprisingly, she put their family tomb inside this cemetery.
Her connection to the graveyard is even more personal than that, however- in 1995 she held her own funeral here! For the release of one of her books, she dressed herself in a century old lace wedding gown and lay down inside a casket, which was closed, placed in a horse-drawn hearse and brought from the cemetery to the Garden District Bookstore, where she had a book signing and was greeted by thousands of fans as she rose from her coffin like one of her vampires.