VOLUNTARY SELF-PUNISHMENT INFLECTED AS AN OUTWARD EXPRESSION OF REPENTANCE FOR HAVING DONE WRONG.
Metairie Cemetery, New Orleans, Louisiana.
This lovely creature was hiding among my photographs. Frozen, she eternally awaits absolution. An immortal penitent held not only by stone but by the weight of her sorrow.
New Orleans has long remained fixated on death and its cemeteries.
“There is no architecture in New Orleans, except in the cemeteries. They bury their dead in vaults above ground. These vaults have a resemblance to houses–sometimes to temples; are built of marble, generally; are architecturally graceful and shapely; they face the walks and driveways of the cemetery; and when one moves through the midst of a thousand or so of them, and sees their white roofs and gables stretching into the distance on every hand, the phrase ‘city of the dead’ has all at once a meaning to him. Many of the cemeteries are beautiful and kept in perfect order…if those people down there would live as neatly while they were alive as they do after they are dead, they would find many advantages to it.”
Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi, 1880
Originally named Metairie Race Course, this premier horse racing track was built 1838 and thrived in the antebellum decades. During the Civil War, the grounds were converted into a Confederate Army Camp (Camp Moore). In 1862, the camp was invaded and left abandoned.
“The war gave one New Orleanian the opportunity to make good on a promise he made concerning the race track. A wealthy man from Baltimore, Charles T. Howard, moved to New Orleans before the Civil War. He built a splendid house on St. Charles Avenue, and made sizable donations to charities. These were not enough to gain him membership in some of the city’s more exclusive clubs, particularly the Metairie Jockey Club. Howard did not suffer slights from the locals lightly, vowing to get revenge. In the case of the Metairie Jockey Club, Howard vowed he would buy the race track and clubhouse and turn them into a graveyard. With the war closing the track, and Reconstruction putting serious constraints on the city’s economy, Howard did indeed buy the property in 1872. If you look at a map or an aerial photo of the cemetery, you can still see the original oval of the racetrack. Howard and his partners didn’t envision Metairie Cemetery as a commoners’ burial ground. The interior portion of the race track’s infield was sectioned off and sold to wealthy families in the community. The elaborate tombs built in that section became known as “Millionaire’s Row.” NOLA History: Metairie Cemetery in New Orleans
This is the final resting place of the famous, the wealthy, and the notorious of New Orleans. Here lies the late and great Louis Prima and Al Copland the creator of Louisiana’s famous Popeye’s Chicken. Anne Rice even has a little spot reserved for herself. If you dig a little deeper though, you can uncover stories of pride, spite, love, and revenge. One of these that comes to mind is the 80 foot tall Moriarty monument.
“A poor Irish immigrant named Daniel A. Moriarty moved to New Orleans. He ended up meeting a lady, who was older than him named Mary Farrell, who he fell in love with. He and his wife started a very successful business in the Red light district of New Orleans. They took the money they earned from their business and invested it in real estate. They became quite wealthy. Moriarty wanted to enter New Orleans’ upper society, but that wasn’t going to happen because the upper society snubbed Daniel and his wife because they didn’t have New Orleans blood. That always irked Daniel. Daniel’s wife, Mary died in 1887 and by 1905, Daniel wanted to honor his wife in a way that would really show everyone, so he had the Moriarty Monument built.”
“The reason Daniel wanted his property to be the tallest was so his wife could look down and snub every “blue blood” in the Cemetery for all eternity. Daniel certainly accomplished what he wanted to do.”
The Brunswig Mausoleum is one of the most unusual markers on the entire grounds. It consists of 2 statues in front of an Egyptian Pyramid, one of which is a sphinx. The other is a human statue is pointing at a Winged Sun. Lucien Napoleon Brunswig was a pharmaceutical giant, and when his young son and wife died within a month of each other he had them buried in this pyramid.
“The winged sun is one of the oldest Egyptian icons and symbols that appeared as early as the Old Kingdom. It is usually a symbol of royalty, divinity and power not only in Egypt but also in the whole Near East including the countries of Mesopotamia, Persia and Anatolia. In Egypt, it is a symbol of the soul and its eternity. It is often placed in temples as a memento to the people of their eternal nature.”
Clapp Family Monument
Angel of Grief Replica: Chapman Hyams Mausoleum
“Angel of Grief is an 1894 sculpture by William Wetmore Story which serves as the grave stone of the artist and his wife at the Protestant Cemetery, Rome. The term is now used to describe multiple grave stones throughout the world erected in the style of the Story stone.”
“Chapman Henry Hyams had a mausoleum built to house family remains in the Metairie Cemetery, New Orleans, the marble statuary monument to his sisters based on William Wetmore Story‘s Angel of Grief. Chapman H. Hyams was eventually interred in the family mausoleum himself. The mausoleum, designed by Favrot and Livaudais is in the style of a Greek temple with Ionic columns on all sides, and a pediment, with Hyams’ name below. The interior is illuminated by four blue stained glass windows, with floral theme.”
This “Angel of Grief” pictured above is modeled after the 1894 sculpture by William Wetmore Story. You might recognize this from Evanescence’s self-titled album Evanescence (EP).
If you’d like to see a virtual tour of this, please visit this site. It’s done amazingly well.
Please enjoy these other fantastic sights at the Metairie Cemetery In New Orleans, Louisiana at
5100 Pontchartrain Blvd. New Orleans, LA 70124. It truly is a wonderful find.
Click here if you’d like to visit the official website.
Metairie Cemetery Map
Until Next Time…
Property of Charlotte Ashcroft Photography