- 5100 Pontchartrain Blvd
- 504 486 6331
Lonely Planet review for Metairie Cemetery
Visiting other New Orleans cemeteries doesn’t quite prepare you for the architectural splendor and over-the-top extravagance of Metairie Cemetery. Established in 1872 on a former race track (the grounds, you’ll notice, still follow the oval layout), this is the most American of New Orleans’ cities of the dead and, like the houses of the Garden District, its tombs appear to be attempts at one-upmanship. This is the final resting place for many of New Orleans’ most prominent citizens. William Charles Cole Claiborne, Louisiana’s first American governor, rests here, as does Confederate General PGT Beauregard. Jefferson Davis was originally interred here, only to be moved to Richmond, VA, two years later. But the real highlight is the architecture. Many of the family tombs and monuments mix stone, bronze and stained glass, and the statuary is, in turns, elegant, touchingly sad and even sensual. Highlights include the Brunswig mausoleum, a pyramid guarded by a sphinx statue; the Moriarty monument, the reputed ‘tallest privately owned monument’ in the country; and the Estelle Theleman Hyams monument, with a stained glass casting a somber blue light over a slumped, despondent angel. Visitors can drop by the funeral home on the grounds and select either the ‘Soldier, Statesmen, Patriots, Rebels’ or ‘Great Families and Captains of Commerce’ self-guided tours. You will be given a map and loaned a recorded cassette and tape player (no charge). Seeing everything on the 150-acre grounds is most easily accomplished by car. Tape tours take about an hour, but stretching this out by getting out of the car for a closer look is highly recommended.