FAQs about Cemetery Closure
Notice Spring, 2022: For all questions about the city's proposed timeline for re-opening Lafayette No. 1 to the public, call the cemetery office at 504-658-3781.
Update Spring, 2020: Closures and protocols during the Covid-19 pandemic have delayed the city's repair plans at Lafayette No. 1 and its projected re-open date. The situation remains in flux at this time.
Q1) When will the cemetery re-open?
A1) The planned re-opening of Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 in Spring, 2020, has been unavoidably delayed due to the pandemic and other factors. (See Covid note above.) The city has hired a highly qualified professional as Superintendent of Cemeteries. Emily Ford is a historian and preservationist who completed certification as an arborist before her hire.
City officials have been working with cemetery maintenance crews and Parks and Parkways staff to clean accumulated vegetative debris (mostly oak and magnolia leaves) and mud from walkways and around tombs and to trim branches overhanging the cemetery walls and tombs. Arborists and other professionals have been called in and consulted on the more difficult and extensive repair work needed. This includes root damage to tombs and walkways, much needed walkway repair to make it safer to traverse, water line repair, exterior wall repair and repairs to the termite-damaged cottage roof. There are still on-going repairs to vandalized and damaged tombs (contracted privately by owners) currently in process with some still to be scheduled.
Fragile cemetery infrastructure has deteriorated severely in recent years due to a sharp increase in unsupervised traffic and abuses. City officials assure us they are determined to take the necessary steps now to repair it and to protect it in the future as the city budget allows.
Q2) Who is allowed in the cemetery during its closure?
A2) While the extensive repairs are in progress, only family members with loved ones interred in Lafayette No. 1, workers hired by the city for repairs and cemetery professionals hired to work directly on individual tombs or copings are allowed into the cemetery. Each of these must request specific permission from the city for access and is held accountable for what happens while they are there. These workers are not allowed to let anyone else in, including family members with plots in the cemetery. Family members are asked to request permission directly from the city. (See Question # 4 below.)
City officials say their main interest is to provide limited access to those with legitimate reasons to enter the cemetery (such as family members visiting loved ones’ graves and professional cemetery workers) while assuring protection and safety and preventing abuses during its closure. The city has declared Lafayette No. 1 an unsafe environment for general visitation.
Q3) Will non-family visitors be allowed in the cemetery once it re-opens?
A3) The current plan is to allow visitors into Lafayette No. 1 in a way that does not further damage or desecrate this sacred and historic place. The city plans for this to coincide with budgeting for on-site security. Specifics on non-family visitation once the cemetery re-opens are still in the planning stages.
Q4) How does a family member request access to the cemetery during its closure?
A4) This process has changed a couple of times during the closure. The city first requested day and time blocks for families to be allowed entrance during specified hours. This has proved difficult for the limited staff to manage, so they are now asking family members to contact them individually for entrance with at least a couple of days’ notice in advance. Cemetery office hours are Mondays – Fridays from 7 am to 3 pm. The contact number for the cemetery office is 504-658-3781. If the call is not returned in a timely manner, family members are asked to call the Property Management office at 504-658-3600. Please note, the city does not have cemetery staff available after 3 pm Monday through Saturday or all day Sunday except as pre-arranged for a burial or in an emergency.
Q5) What proofs are required by the city for official recognition as an owner or direct family descendant of those interred in Lafayette?
A5) At present for interments, for direct succession burial rights and for re-issued titles, the city has said it requires proof of a chain of succession to the plot. Examples are a deed to the plot, original receipts, or a notarized affidavit filed with the city (detailing who is buried in the plot and the applicant’s relationship to them). The affidavit should be supported by official records such as birth and/or death certificates, published obituaries or other official documents that show how the applicant is related to those interred. Because some titles have been lost over the years, affidavit filings and documentation will be needed to legally re-issue titles to rightful owners. The city is currently working with state officials to clarify and simplify the process. Please contact the city cemetery office (see question # 4 above) for current specifics on their process.
LCTC has access to some records apart from the city’s and experienced volunteers willing to help research any plot in Lafayette No. 1. We are in the process of obtaining and digitizing more. Please contact us at through our online portal on the Contact Us page of this website, our email or our mailing address below if you’d like help with this process or know of someone who does.
LCTC email: LCTC@lafayettecemeteryno1.org
LCTC mailing address: LCTC
3901 MacArthur Blvd., #741907
New Orleans, LA 70174
6) What about the trees?
A) So far, city personnel have cut back invasive weeds and "trash" trees, cleared leaves and trimmed branches of overhanging oaks and magnolias. The city is working with Parks and Parkways and other professionals, including arborists, to make informed decisions about the magnolia trees and their root systems that are impacting tombs and walkways. It is not an easy process or decision. An administrative official has recently asked LCTC to collect plot owner input on specific tree or root issues pertaining to their own plot - either positive or negative. They plan to incorporate this input into their decision making process. If you are a plot owner with a tree nearby and would like your voice heard, please send your comments, concerns or wishes about it to any of our addresses listed above. Please include the name and location of your family plot, the tree's proximity to it (so it can be identified) and your contact information.
NOTE: All procedures above are evolving as city officials work through long-neglected policies and processes. There may still be additional changes. They ask that family members please be patient as this process unfolds. LCTC will notify its associates of any changes affecting families and post public city notices regarding Lafayette No. 1 on its website. Please contact us (see addresses above or portal below) if you have any questions.