Editor’s note: Guest writer Whitney Mackman is on a roll with this incredible find. I had no idea this existed.
The Last of its Kind in New Orleans: Holt Cemetery
Off the beaten path and almost impossible to see from City Park Ave, Holt Cemetery offers an afternoon of exploration and relaxation. Tucked away on what looks like Delgado’s campus (or what Delgado hoped would becomes its campus), this cemetery is unmanned, unkempt, and totally awesome (It might be manned during the week. We went on Sunday and the sign read “closed Sunday,” but the gate was open.) Every cemetery I’ve seen in this city uses above-ground burial except Holt. You won’t find elaborate and ornate tombs here. This is more of a graveyard – a graveyard with homemade headstones strewn amongst dramatic oaks wearing cloaks of Spanish moss. My friend and I explored for more than an hour as the Sunday thunder cracked and a random whistle echoed from a Delgado sports game. We apologized to the spirits as we leapt between graves, even though it was nearly impossible to miss one.
Established in 1879, Holt is quite possibly the only cemetery left in New Orleans that is 99% in-ground burial (the 1% is one tomb). Historically it’s a graveyard for the less fortunate, which might explain the vast array of homemade grave markers. Some graves are marked with just a wooden crucifix or a rectangular border of 2x4s; others with teddy bears or beer bottles or firecracker shells. In certain places, it’s hard to tell where one grave ends and another begins. The ground is uneven, there are large mounds of freshly placed dirt, and I read a Times Picayune article that claims bones sometimes stick out of the ground. While some might find this unorganized or ugly, I think it adds a personal touch unachievable within row after uniform row of stone tombs. It’s unachievable in any cemetery I’ve seen throughout the world. I want to come back here with a book and a blanket and spend all day immersed in this magical place.
Posted in historical, lakeview, mid-city, urban, urban ruin | Tags: adventure, cemetery, city, grave, graves, graveyard, lakeview, mid, new, nola, old, orleans, ruin, shallow, south, southern, tomb, tombs, urban