Action Report: Concern over city cemetery conditions


Posted on October 28, 2013 at 7:05 PM

Updated Monday, Oct 28 at 7:20 PM

Bill Capo / Eyewitness News
Email: | Twitter: @billcapo

NEW ORLEANS - Historic Lafayette Cemetery Number One is popular with tourists and movie crews.

Michael Burke finds conditions in the 180-year-old city-owned cemetery distressing, starting with overflowing garbage cans.

"I'm standing next to my great, great grandfather's crypt," said tomb owner Michael Burke. "He died around 1858.

"It's just a shame that nobody is dealing with the vegetation that's causing these crypts to split," said Burke. "The deterioration of these tombs, and there are big pieces just lying all over the place that are just an accident waiting to be stolen."

Burke and the head of Save Our Cemeteries were thrilled to see a city grass cutting crew here, and want more city support.

"I was very surprised," said Burke.

"They come out generally once a year at least, although before today it had probably been the spring," said Save Our Cemeteries Executive Director Angie Green.

I contacted Save Our Cemeteries because the agency has been here for decades, raising $3 million to restore tombs in St. Louis Number One in an ongoing project.

"In the 40 years of SOC's history in the cemetery, we've restored over 100 tombs," said Green.

A key fundraising event is the All Saints Soiree on Nov. 9, taking place in a cemetery.

"They'll get to walk through with lanterns at night, as well as we'll have live music and food and an auction," said Gala Organizer Kelley Mitchell.

"The funds raised from the gala go back to our 42 cemeteries in the city, including Lafayette Number One," said Gala Organizer Sarah Martzolf.

"We're going to continue working on restoring 85 tombs in this cemetery," explained Angie Green about the current restoration project at Lafayette #1. The November 9th All Saints Soiree takes place at St. Louis Cemetery #3 on Esplanade Avenue.

Tickets start at $65. Call Save Our Cemeteries at 525-3377, or visit their website at