Cemeteries rely on Perpetual Care to maintain the properties.

ad for Hope Mausoleum discussing perpetual care

Perpetual Care preserves grave sites

Ad for Hope Mausoleum in the Times-Picayune, 23-May-1935, for Hope Mausoleum, 4801 Canal Street. This ad emphasizes the importance of perpetual care fees:

Hope Mausoleum is the only burial place in New Orleans which includes Perpetual Care in the original purchase price, a practice almost universal in modern cemeteries across the United States. Faithfully laid aside at the consummation of each sale of crypt space, this fun is steadily growing. Invested in sound securities, the income from the Perpetual Care Fund will be used to maintain Hope Mausoleum after all space has been sold. Assured Perpetual Care is but one of several factors which have influenced a wide public acceptance of Hope Mausoleum as “The Modern Way of Burial.”

While Hope included the service in the purchase price, just about every cemetery in New Orleans offered this funding. Other cemeteries sold it as an add-on. Most buyers added the service to their purchase. The cemetery owners reminded buyers of the consequences of not having it. So, cemeteries maintain tombs and copings with perpetual care. Without it, the owners of the tomb repair their plots. If a family dies out, the cemetery may choose to demolish a tomb in disrepair. Therefore, memories vanish.

Consequences of no perpetual funding

The biggest example of the consequences of no perpetual fund is the Girod Street Cemetery. Located where Champions Square (by the Superdome) stands now (no, the Saints don’t play on top of a graveyard), Girod Street was the first Protestant Cemetery in the city. The chapter of Christ Episcopal Church (now Cathedral) built the cemetery. They didn’t set up perpetual care funding. So, by the 20th century, much of the cemetery fell into serious disrepair. By the 1950s, Girod Street had to be deconsecrated and demolished. Many of the unclaimed remains at the time of demolition were re-interred in Hope Mausoleum.

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