Brunswig pyramid tomb.
A gumbo of metaphorical and mythical characters populate Metairie Cemetery.

Flashy Tombs of Metairie Cemetery

Field review by the editors.

New Orleans, Louisiana

If you were rich and lived in New Orleans in the 19th century, odds are you'd end up in Metairie Cemetery when you were dead. Nine Louisiana governors, seven New Orleans' mayors, and three Confederate generals are buried there. Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy, was there for a while before his corpse was dug up and moved to Richmond, Virginia.

Anvil grave.
Anvil grave of peace, but behind it looms the Washington Artillery monument.

The most photographed tomb in Metairie Cemetery, however, was built for the relatively obscure Brunswig family. Lucien Napoleon Brunswig was a pharmaceutical millionaire, and when his young son and wife died within a month of each other he had them buried in a pyramid. A sphinx guards its doorway along with a woman delivering a libation urn; a winged orb chiseled over its entrance offers divine protection. Lucien remarried, had more kids, moved to L.A., and lived another 51 years -- but when he died he had his body shipped back to New Orleans and buried inside his pyramid.

Tomb built to resemble church ruins.
Ruined church? No, it's a grave built to look like one.

Just around the corner from the Brunswigs is another photogenic tomb, that of the Egan family, a showcase of the South's fondness for gothic forms and romantic decay. The Egans are buried in an imitation ruined abbey, complete with broken towers, cracked walls, and crumbling buttresses. It's all purposely "distressed" and fake; even the cracks on the wall, floors, and gravestone tablets were chipped and cut when the tomb was new in the 1890s (Give it time; real decay will eventually catch up to the fake decay). It's supposedly modeled on a real ruin at the family's ancestral estate in Ireland.

Also see: Quirky Monuments of New Orleans

Flashy Tombs of Metairie Cemetery

Address:
5100 Pontchartrain Blvd, New Orleans, LA
Directions:
Cemetery entrance is on the west side of Pontchartrain Blvd just north of Metairie Rd. Once through the entrance gate drive straight until the road ends. Turn left. Drive straight until the road ends. Turn right. You'll see the pyramid ahead on the right.
Hours:
Daily 7:30-5:30 (Call to verify)
Phone:
504-486-6331
Admission:
Free
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Odd Fellow's Rest, Poor Folks CemeteryOdd Fellow's Rest, Poor Folks Cemetery, New Orleans, LA - < 1 mi.
StorylandStoryland, New Orleans, LA - 1 mi.
Giant Safety PinGiant Safety Pin, New Orleans, LA - 1 mi.
In the region:
Andy Jackson: New Orleans' Favorite President, New Orleans, LA - 4 mi.

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August 20, 2017

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