Flashy Tombs of Metairie Cemetery
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.
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.
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.