Repairs to begin on Lafayette Cemetery in early 2020, Mayor’s Office announces

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The city-owned Lafayette No. 1 is ready for repairs. (via Mayor’s Office)

The city’s Department of Property Management is set to begin revitalizing and restoring Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, one of the city’s most treasured historic resting places and a popular tourist attraction.

The DPM will work alongside District B City Councilman Jay Banks, representatives from other city departments, as well as local historic preservationists to plan and complete the repairs, a city press release states. Graves at the site date back to the 1830s.

“We are excited about the opportunity to complete these much-needed repairs for our residents and for the many tourists who come to appreciate the cemetery’s history,” said Ramsey Green, Deputy CAO for Infrastructure. “Preserving our cultural heritage as it is reflected in Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 is critically important, and we look forward to taking the next steps in 2020.”

The city’s revitalization and restoration plans include the following:

  • Trimming back street trees;
  • Repairing damaged underground water lines;
  • Installing security cameras near gates;
  • Replacing the interior perimeter walkways with permeable paving;
  • Replacing magnolia trees with trees featuring less-intrusive roots to mitigate damage to tombs and walkways;
  • Removing internal cross walkways with permeable paving; and
  • Developing a plan for more rigorous grounds-keeping efforts going forward.

Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 has been closed since September to allow various city departments to complete assessments of the property.

A sign greets visitors looking to enter Lafayette Cemetery #1. The historic cemetery has been closed since September. (Nicholas Reimann)

During that time, several families who own tombs, crypts and copings inside of Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 have been able to complete repairs to their structures and earthworks, the city states. Uptown Messenger spoke with other family members who have been frustrated over a difficulty in accessing the cemetery.

Since September, tourists and family members have been met with a padlocked gate and a sign: “Lafayette Cemetery #1 will be temporarily closed for repairs.”

Many were frustrated over the apparent lack of work at the cemetery. City officials said they have been evaluating the site before beginning repairs.

“I think they’re going to finish this cemetery after they finish the streets in New Orleans,” tour guide Martin Leblanc told reporter Nicholas Reimann in November. “We haven’t seen any work.”

The city’s repairs are scheduled to begin in early 2020 and will take approximately five months to complete. Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 is scheduled to reopen in spring 2020.

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