The Girod Street Cemetery opened in 1822 for Protestant residents of Faubourg St. Mary and other communities, including slaves, who were allowed to purchase tombs.
The cemetery was impressive – with 2,319 wall vaults and 1,100 tombs. A number of politicians were interred there during the 1800s; it was also home to a number of benevolent society tombs (among them: The Sobriety Benevolent Aid Society).
During the 1900s, the cemetery fell into disrepair from neglect. In the late ’50s, the city, looking for land on which to build a new civic center, decided to reclaim the land where the cemetery stood. After 134 years of use, the Girod Street Cemetery was officially deconsecrated on January 4, ’57.
Relatives claimed the exhumed bodies of family members, and those who weren’t claimed were relocated by the city: Whites were re-interred collectively at Hope Mausoleum and African Americans at Providence Memorial. Once all the remains had been removed, the crypts and tombs were cleared. Eventually, new construction began in the area, including the Superdome in the early 1970s.
A ghost story of sorts has been roaming about New Orleans for years: that the Saints were cursed by the very ground the Superdome sat on, that those removed from their final resting places at Girod Street Cemetery were angrily haunting the ’Dome, preventing success, year after year. Voodoo ceremonies and gris gris were invoked, prayers were said … but losing seasons continued.
Turns out, it’s the parking lot next door to the ’Dome that’s built over the cemetery grounds. And last year’s World Champion Saints decisively put to bed the idea of a Superdome curse.
Here’s to another year of un-haunting!