A few months after the city padlocked the Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 in September 2019, Garden District neighbors, tour guides and family members wanting to visit the graves of loved ones were asking questions.
Sixteen months into the temporary closure for repairs, those question continue: Is anything happening behind the antique brick walls? When will the city unlock the gates and let the public in again?
Neighbors could get some answers Tuesday (Jan. 12), when the city’s Property Management director, Martha Griset, is on the agenda to give an update on repairs to city cemeteries at the City Council’s Community Development Committee meeting.
The public is invited to submit written comments here. All comments that meet the city’s requirements, as provided on the comment form, will be read into the record at the virtual meeting.
In November 2019, Griset told Uptown Messenger that the city was evaluating how to move forward on the restoration and that she expected the project to be finished in a matter of months.
The project’s main goal is restoring tombs and walkways, and making sure those are sustainable in the future, Griset said.
A month later, the city announced that repairs were scheduled to begin and would be finished in the spring of 2020. “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,” said Ramsey Green, the city’s deputy CAO for infrastructure, in a Dec. 16, 2019, press release.
Neighbors have reported seeing few signs of significant work since the closure.
Save Our Cemeteries tallies about 1,100 family tombs and more than 7,000 people who are buried in in the single city block that contains the historic cemetery.
Located between Washington, Sixth, Prytania, and Coliseum streets, Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 is the oldest of the seven city-operated cemeteries in New Orleans and the oldest planned cemetery in the city. Its plans date to 1832, according to Save Our Cemeteries.
The cemetery was included in the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 for its architectural and social-historical importance.