Saint Louis Cemetery #1, which opened in 1789, is the oldest continuous operating Cemetery in New Orleans. The St. Louis Cemetery number 1 was added to the National Register of Historic Places on July 30, 1975. The cemetery was established by royal decree from Spain in 1789. At one time, some early burials took place under ground. However, for a variety of reason, above ground burial in brick tombs became popular.
For approximately forty years, the St Louis Cemetery was the premier burial location for the city residents before other cemeteries were established further from the French Quarter borders. One of the interesting observations about the cemetery is its maze like feel, as the plots were not laid out in an organized way. This makes the cemetery look disorganized and unplanned. Although the labyrinth of the tombs can’t be changed, new tombs, such as the Nick Cage pyramid tomb, must be built via building code.
Family tombs can fit generations of family members all in one space. “One year and a day” is the cardinal rule that allows family members to be interred in a tomb during a span of time. If two family members died within this time span, one was to be buried temporarily in the wall vault awaiting interment in the family tomb.
For several years, the cemetery was not safe to visit because the neighborhood was considered dangerous. The area has been revived in the last ten years and considered one a very safe area today. The cemetery had a lot of vandalism, thief, removal of artifacts and human bones, panhandlers saying they were tour guides and handing visitors markers to mark up the tombs.
As of March 1, 2015, The Archdiocese of New Orleans requires all guests who enter the St. Louis Cemetery #1 be with a licensed tour guide who is registered with New Orleans Catholic Cemeteries.
New Orleans Film Tours LLC, have local experience licensed tour guides who are registered with the Archdiocese. When you take the American Horror Story Unauthorized Tour, our local tour guides will take you in the Saint Louis Cemetery 1 to see three (3) tombs:
- Marie Laveau's tomb
- Madam LaLaurie's tomb
- Nicolas Cage’s pyramid tomb