Protecting Our Cemeteries From The Living

If you want to get lost in the historic 700 tomb maze of St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 without being hustled along by a guide, then you only have a few weeks left to do so, that is, unless you are a relative of one of the deceased or a visiting scholar.

As of March 1, locals and tourists alike will only be allowed to enter the cemetery with a licensed tour guide who is registered with the Archdiocese of New Orleans.

For visitors to the cemetery, it is simply a matter of finding the right tour company, which can cost upwards of $20. For tour guides and companies though, the system requires additional hoops to jump through.

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Tour guides and companies wanting to access the cemetery will need to register with the Archdiocese of New Orleans by providing an annual signed application form with the fee, proof of tour guide license, occupational license and liability insurance.

Companies who frequent the cemeteries will be asked to pay a flat monthly rate of $450 or $1,200 quarterly or $4,500 annually. For smaller companies or those that only operate the occasional tour in the cemetery there is the option of a $40 one-time pass, but they will still be required to register with the office.

The money from tour guide registration will go towards full-time staff during the day, 24 hour security and preservation projects.

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The new access rules come as a reaction to; vandalism, litter, unlicensed tour guides providing false history and encouraging defacing of tombs, and people touching the plastering which causes wear and tear at an expedited rate. The Archdiocese of New Orleans has had to foot the bill of maintaining restoring the cemetery.

“It is hard to put a dollar figure on how much it all costs because there has been other tombs that have been defaced and have not been repaired yet,” says Sherri Peppo, director of Archdiocesan of Cemeteries Office.

“Everyone knows Marie Laveau’s tomb restoration cost $10,000,” says Peppo. “We have started work this week on restoring the front exterior wall around the perimeter and that project alone has cost us $500,000.”

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Peppo continues to explain that they have received a lot of positive support from all parties affected by these changes. And as they move forward, St. Louis Cemetery No.3 and St. Roch Cemeteries for the tour buses only, will make similar changes that will take effect later in the year.

For more information about New Orleans Archdiocesan Cemeteries please visit




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