Girod Street Cemetery

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The Girod Street Cemetery was a large above-ground cemetery established in 1822 for Protestant residents of the Faubourg St. Mary in predominantly Catholic New Orleans, Louisiana. It consisted of 2,319 wall vaults and approximately 1,100 tombs. Notables interred there included Congressman Henry Adams Bullard, Zulu Social Club King Joseph J. Smith,[1] Lieutenant Colonel William Wallace Smith Bliss, and California governor John B. Weller.

Row of crypts in Girod Cemetery, 1885

Girod Cemetery was laid out along a central artery with side aisles, and was noted for its so-called "society tombs," which could rise seven or eight tiers above ground.[2] Societies of (former) slaves owned their own tombs: the First African Baptist Association, the Home Missionary Benevolent Society, and the Male and Female Lutheran Benevolent Society. The New Lusitanos Benevolent Association owned the largest society tomb in Girod Cemetery, which was designed by J.N.B. de Pouilly in 1859.[3]

The cemetery fell into disrepair in the 20th century and it was deconsecrated on January 4, 1957. According to local historian Leonard Huber, between January and March of 1957 the human remains were moved elsewhere: the interred whites to Hope Mausoleum of New Orleans and the African Americans to Providence Memorial Park of Metairie.

The Mercedes-Benz Superdome, Smoothie King Center, Benson Tower, Entergy Tower, and Energy Centre were eventually constructed near, but not on, the cemetery site. A superstition, repeated by some, alleges that the poor record and the inability – for a long time – to appear in the Super Bowl, for the New Orleans Saints football team, was somehow supernaturally tied to the ground on which the dome was constructed. However, several sources state that the Superdome was not built on the former cemetery location, but on the former location of the Illinois Central Railroad engine terminal and roundhouse.[4]

The superstition has now been proven false with the team's success in winning Super Bowl XLIV. The former Girod Street Cemetery site is the current location of the parking garage for the New Orleans Centre shopping mall.[5] However, overlaying a Sanborn map over a current aerial image shows that the cemetery's location was directly underneath the New Orleans Centre and the Superdome's parking garage.[6]

As of July 2008, New Orleans' development plans for the area call for the construction of an entertainment district of sports bars and other attractions.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "King of Mardi Gras Dies in New Orleans", New York Amsterdam News, 28 August 1948.
  2. ^ New Orleans is near sea level, and tombs are elevated above ground.
  3. ^ Huber, Leonard. New Orleans Architecture, vol. III. Cemeteries. Gretna: Pelican Publishing, 1974, p. 20.
  4. ^ "Girod Street Cemetery". Cities of the Dead. Cities of the Dead. 2007-09-26. Archived from the original on July 8, 2008. Retrieved 2009-03-14. 
  5. ^ "Scream a Little Scream With Me". Renne Peck. Times Picayune. 2007-10-27. Retrieved 2009-03-14. 
  6. ^ "Girod Street Cemetery Map Overlay". [permanent dead link]
  7. ^ Moran, Kate. "State Could Sign Option for New Orleans Centre by Week's End". Times Picayune, 15 July 2008.

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Coordinates: 29°56′59″N 90°04′44″W / 29.94972°N 90.07889°W / 29.94972; -90.07889