Louisiana enjoys a melange of cultures and customs blurring the lines between the sacred and the profane. It is here you will find Louisiana’s cities of the dead, tombs shrouded with weeping oaks and the Creole tradition of lighting the graves. Each with its own personality, from the ornate to the Gothic, these photos are a fitting tribute to a soulful state that celebrates death with the same joyous zeal as they celebrate life. New Orleans cemeteries are available for tours and most country cemeteries are open from dawn to dusk.
Unlike other sites, these pictures are part of my ongoing work in documenting the beauty of Louisiana’s historic cemeteries. I’m a Louisiana local, a professional writer and photographer, and all the photos are originals and copyrighted.*
1. St. Louis No. 1, New Orleans
Just outside the French Quarter, ghastly but poignant neighbors share common grounds with New Orleans trailblazers, politicians, and Voodoo queens.
2. St. Louis No. 3, New Orleans
Here amid an oncoming cool front, storm clouds funnel a soft glow across a row of tombs inside St. Louis No. 3 cemetery
3. St. Roch Cemetery, New Orleans
People still believe in the miracles of St. Roch which is evidenced inside a small room on the right-hand side of the St. Roch chapel altar. In what appears to be a ghastly torture chamber is in fact a collage of heart-felt stories that give thanks to St. Roch for healing minds, bodies and souls.
4. Holt Cemetery, New Orleans
Not far from City Park, tucked away behind a college parking lot, Holt Cemetery is New Orleans’ only underground graveyard.
5. Metairie Lake Lawn Cemetery, New Orleans
One of the more prominent cemeteries in New Orleans, Metairie Lake Lawn Cemetery is known for its elaborate stained glass windows.
6. Night of the Dead, Lacombe Cemeteries
The lighting of the cemeteries, an All Saints Day tradition shard by Creole families, descended from Early Native American, African American and French settlers.
7. Covington Cemetery
Resurrection vines crawl across the sprawling oak branches paying tribute to the pioneers and heroes who founded and built the historic town of Covington.
8. Madisonville Cemetery, Madisonville
A courageous group of locals have restored this 200-plus-year cemetery along the banks of the Techfuncte River in Madisonville. There are many stories of hauntings including a mother looking for her children after the entire family drown when their car plunged into the river.
9. Grace Church, St. Francisville
10. Jewish Cemetery, Hwy 10 near Clinton
Past the stoic wrought iron fence under a deep perimeter of towering pines and oaks, marble and granite monuments lay claim to many Jewish souls. Among them, were early cotton merchants that helped build Clinton’s commercial and cultural life in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
11. Clinton Confederate Cemetery, Clinton
The town of Clinton in East Feliciana Parish owns a rich history of cemeteries and home to Confederate heroes inside the Clifton Confederate Cemetery.
12. Port Hudson National Cemetery, Zachary
The Port Hudson Cemetery is a national cemetery that began as a resting place for both Union and Confederate soldiers that died during the siege of Port Hudson. Burials began in 1863, and today the cemetery is at capacity home to 13,000 former members of the US Military and their spouses.
13. St. Stephens Episcopal Church Cemetery, Innis
Located behind St. Stephens Church, built in a Gothic Revival architecture, both the church and cemetery were consecrated in 1859. The grounds is located along HWY 418 a country road skirting the Mississippi River where every turn is a history lesson.
14. St. Francis Chapel cemetery, New Roads
St. Francis was the first church in the region and began the move to Christianity in 1728, the church was built ten years later.
15. Holy Rosary Cemetery, Larose
Don’t be turned away by rainy days when shooting cemeteries, this beauty was found after taking a u-turn looking for another cemetery. Right after parking, the rain stopped and nature provided a fitting reflection for the eternal abodes.
16. Southdown Cemetery, Houma
Both a sobering and eloquent display, Southdown Cemetery is home to children’s graves filled with their favorite toys. This picture was taken against a brutal sky from a wicked line of thunderstorms. Not a drop fell during the photo shoot, perhaps the children loved the attention and willed away the encroaching storms.
17. St. Mary Cemetery, Raceland
Raised brick tombs of this design were built for families accommodating 2-12 burials above the ground. Most brick tombs were plastered, but in this case it appears the tombs are struggling with decay. The dates are in the 1870s.
18. Young Family Cemetery, Zachary
Along a winding country road, the Young Family Cemetery was first used to bury the children of James Young with land donated in 1874. The grounds were thick with chestnuts and filled with squirrels scampering across the tombstones.
19. Morgan City Cemetery, Morgan City
The Morgan City Cemetery is a stunning example of different cultures that have come together in the after-life. It is also home to the gravesite of Ada Bonner Leboeuf, the first woman to hang in Louisiana in 1929, a crime even today is still being researched. Could her spirit still be lingering among the weeping moss?
20. Old Jackson Cemetery, Jackson
In the historic town of Jackson, Louisiana, the Old Jackson Cemetery is home to Confederate War heroes. The cemetery is open for viewing from dawn to dusk and the town is filled with many nationally recognized historic buildings and churches.
*The prose and many of the pictures in this post are from my book Louisiana’s Sacred Places: Churches, Cemeteries and Voodoo. Print and ebook are available on Amazon or order autographed copies via this website.