Preserving Historic Cemeteries of New Orleans

Have you ever walked through any of the cemeteries of New Orleans and noticed SOC on a few of the tombs? These particular placards are placed on tombs that are being restored by ‘Save Our Cemeteries’. Founded in December 1974, Save Our Cemeteries preserves and restores the historic cemeteries of New Orleans. This is no small feat in that there are 31 cemeteries in the city including the well-known Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 and St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 that many tourists visit every year.

Save Our Cemeteries wants to help preserve, protect and promote these historic cemeteries. In order to do this, they rely on tours, advocacy and education to help raise money for restoration of the tombs in the city. One such restoration project they worked on was the restoration of Marie Laveau’s tomb. This project cost $10,000 to complete and was finished in October, 2014.

Here are some of the ways Save Our Cemeteries has raised money to help preserve these beautiful cemeteries around the city:

  • A Run through History 1 Mile & 5K which is held inside Metairie Cemetery.
  • All Saints Soiree Gala
  • Cemeteryscape (photography exhibit to raise awareness of cemeteries)
  • Cemetery Tours through Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 and a special tour through St. Louis Cemetery No. 2 (held on the fourth Sunday of the month)
  • Lecture series on topics relating to the cemeteries which are held four times a year. Along with the lecture series, there’s a summer lecture that consists of several topics, speakers and is a day-long seminar

By no means, does this even scratch the surface on the many projects that Save Our Cemeteries has going on with these historic cemeteries. Along with these projects, there is research that’s ongoing regarding these tombs and the best ways to preserve and restore them to their former glory. You can’t expect to go to any tomb and scrub the paint or markers, if vandalized, or pressure wash it and hope to get it back to the way it once was. It takes a lot of hard work in restoring any of these tombs and one effective way is in using lime wash as part of the restoration process. They only restore abandoned tombs where no one is around to care for them and have not seen a burial in 50 years or longer. They do not restore every tomb in New Orleans since some of those still have relatives to care for them or the cemeteries are privately owned such as Greenwood Cemetery.

What will you do when you visit any of these cemeteries of New Orleans? Will you think twice when you see an SOC placard on one of these tombs? Will you think about all the research and restoration that goes into making any one of these tombs look the way they did before they started crumbling, decaying, marked up or painted because of weather or vandalism?  Will you think about what you can do to help?


There are ways we can help Save Our Cemeteries preserve, protect and restore these historic cemeteries for future generations. We can become members of Save Our Cemeteries or make donations to help fund these tomb restoration projects. Another way would be volunteering our time to any one of the Save Our Cemeteries projects that is happening in New Orleans such as the vegetation removal that happened at Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 in mid 2014.

Don’t feel that you can’t do anything to help preserve any of these cemeteries because anyone can help restore them back to their former glory.

Click on this link to check out Save Our Cemeteries on ways you can help.


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