Perpetual Care at Hope Mausoleum

Perpetual Care at Hope Mausoleum

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.

Lighting Lee

Lighting Lee

The White League engaged in terrorism by lighting Lee.

lighting lee - lee monument in 1916

Lighting Lee Circle

Photos of Lee Circle at night. The first, set back from the monument, is a John Tibule Mendes shot taken in 1916. The second is from New Orleans Public Service, Incorporated, from 1928. Caption for the 1916 photo (via THNOC):

Poorly-exposed night view of the Lee Monument at Lee Circle in the Central Business District looking along Saint Charles Avenue towards Uptown. Streetcar tracks are visible in the foreground. The Lee Monument honors Confederate General Robert E. Lee and was dedicated on February 22, 1884. John Roy of New Orleans designed the mound and column while Alexander Doyle designed the bronze likeness of Lee that stands atop the column.

Accordingly, New Orleans Railway & Light Company provided the electric power for lighting Lee in 1916.

lighting lee - lee monument in 1928

The second photo shows the monument from a closer perspective.

Why Lee?

The purpose erecting a statue to the traitor Lee was simple: assertion of white supremacy in New Orleans. So, Confederate sympathizers terrorized the population of New Orleans from the start of the Union occupation in 1862. Unionists, mostly Irish and Germans, went to the river levees to greet the Union squadron under the command of Flag-Officer Farragut. Despite their defeat, white men shot and killed them, forcing others to retreat from the levee. Confederates held the Irish and Germans responsible for the loss of the city. During the attack, the Irish and German troops at Fort Jackson mutinied, sealing the city’s fate. Local lost-causers formed the White League, formalizing their opposition to a Union-controlled state government. Therefore, the White League was, for all intents and purposes, a terrorist organization.

So, fast forward to twenty years after the conflict. The White League pressed their control of the city. hey used Carnival organizations and social clubs to bolster the terrorist violence of their militia. The city’s demographics changed radically in the 1880s, with the influx of Sicilians into New Orleans. The Sicilians brought their own criminal element with them. The Mafia challenged the White League’s control. This required a response from the established criminals.

The monument

To emphasize the economic control the White League held, they commissioned a column of “white Georgia marble” to be placed at the center of Tivoli Circle. They topped that column with a statue of the traitor Lee. Sculptor Alexander Doyle crafted that statue. it was dedicated on Washington’s Birthday in 1884. While the outward forms of support for the monument stated it was built to recognize the sacrifices of the Confederacy, its underlying purpose was asserting power.

The lights

The White League experimented with illuminating the monument almost immediately. The first attempts involved burning magnesium in the urns around the column. This lit up Lee Circle for miles. Of course, the magnesium burned out and had to be replaced. By the 1910s, urban electrification extended into residential areas of the city. First came the streetcars, in the 1890s, Power lines extended from the streetcar routes. With Lee, it was a matter of someone willing to pay the light bill.

Why bother with lighting? The monument stood at the Western end of the Central Business District. Tourists rarely ventured past Poydras Street. In the early part of the 20th century, most buildings in New Orleans were three or four stories. The monument towered over the neighborhood. Light it up at night, and Lee was visible for miles. That pleased the White League. It communicated to everyone their ownership and control of the city. That made the light bill worth it.

Morning Photowalk 20-May-2024 (1)

Morning Photowalk 20-May-2024 (1)

The weather’s nice enough for a proper morning photowalk!

s. bernadotte and canal morning photowalk

Morning Photowalk for a Monday

My usual Monday routine is breakfast at Wakin Bakin on Banks Street in Mid-City. I parked my car back by St. Patrick Cemetery Number One, on Canal Street. From there, I did a morning photowalk, down Canal to S. Murat Street, to Banks Street. The weather was great and the neighborhood is fun to observe.

Canal Street

morning photowalk

4920 Canal Street

4916 canal street morning photowalk

4916 Canal Street

4916 Canal St. morning photowalk

4916 Canal Street

4920-4916 Canal Street. Numbers here decrease since I’m walking “down,” towards the river. This is a pair of Streamline Moderne buildings housing downstairs retail (professional offices) and upstairs apartments.

botinelli place morning photowalk

Botinelli Place

Botinelli Place is a private street. It’s the south-of-Canal extension of Anthony Street. The building in the rear with the large spires is the ‘Botinelli Building.” The spires originally adorned the old Touro Synagogue on Carondelet Street. Botinelli acquired them as salvage when the congregation sold their building on Carondelet and moved to St. Charles Avenue, by Loyola University. He built an apartment building and put the spires on top.

st. anthony's priory morning photowalk

Dominican Priory at St. Anthony Church

st. anthony priory morning photowalk

Dominican Priory at St. Anthony Church

Two views of St. Anthony’s Priory, 4640 Canal Street. More than just a rectory for the parish, the priory houses Friars working around New Orleans.

4520 Canal morning photowalk

4520 Canal Street

Currently listed by Anthony Posey Properties, Inc.

4534 Canal Street morning photowalk

4534 Canal Street

This house is one off the corner, with the well-known home of the Centanni family at the corner of Canal and S. Murat Streets.

Napoleon in Mid-City

One of the more interesting and less-known aspects of this section of Mid-City is its association with Napoleon Bonaparte. While most folks are aware of the Napoleonic theme of street names just off of Napoleon Avenue uptown, many aren’t aware of the Mid-City connection. Three streets in Mid-City, Bernadotte, Murat, and Alexander are named for personalities from the Napoleonic period. Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte was one of Napoleon’s marshals. He was elected crown prince of Sweden in 1810 and became King Charles XIV John upon the death of King Charles XIII. Joachim Murat was also a Marshal of France under Napoleon, later becoming King of Naples. Tsar Alexander I of Russia was one of Napoleon’s chief adversaries.





Elysian Fields 1938

Elysian Fields 1938

Before Elysian Fields took you to UNO, there was the Pontchartrain Railroad.

ford truck at elysian fields and gentilly 1938

Elysian Fields in 1938

Photo of Gentilly Road at Elysian Fields, 1938. A Ford Model T truck heads westbound on Gentilly, Behind the truck is a dirt road which later becomes Elysian Fields Avenue. Prior to this, this Gentilly Road was the half-way point for the Pontchartrain Railroad (PRR). The PRR ran from Chartres Street in the Marigny up to Milneburg. The Louisville & Nashville discontinued the PRR in 1931. So, by 1938, the street had yet to replace the train tracks.

Hebrew Rest Cemetery is visible on the left. A consortium of Jewish congregations bought land on the Gentilly Ridge. The high ground of the ridge facilitated in-ground burials.

Railroad versus canal

The first link between the city and the lake was the combination of the Carondelet Canal and Bayou St. John. The Creoles built the canal in 1795. They leveraged the bayou to complete a waterway. The Anglo-Irish community built the second connection, the New Basin Canal. So, by the 1840s, both sides of Canal Street had a link to the lake.

Businessmen in Gentilly went in a different direction. While developers did consider a canal to the east of the city, linking Faubourg Marigny with the lake, they scrapped the plan. Instead, investors built a railroad from the established neighborhood and the lake. The PRR opened in 1831. Ships docked at Port Pontchartrain and trains took goods down to the riverfront. As Milneburg developed, passengers used the six-mile route to go to the lake for day trips.

L&N takes over

The PRR sold out to the New Orleans, Mobile and Texas Railroad in 1871. The Louisville & Nashville Railroad leased the PRR route in 1880. They bought it outright in 1881. The L&N bought the PRR to extend their system to the port of New Orleans. So, they didn’t really care much about Port Pontchartrain. So, the full run to Lake Pontchartrain became more passenger than cargo. Milneburg offered hotels, restaurants, and fishing camps to New Orleanians. By 1930, L&N lost interest in keeping up the full PRR route. The final trains to Milneburg ran in 1932.

Works Progress Administration

By the late 1930s, the tracks vanished. A dirt/shell road replaced the right-of-way. The neighborhood expanded at this time, laying the foundation for the Gentilly subdivisions that popped up after World War II. When the Works Progress Administration (WPA) came to New Orleans in 1939, paving roads in Gentilly ranked high on the project list. WPA created the grid of Gentilly streets as we know them in 1939-1940. Elysian Fields Avenue linked Gentilly Road to the new bath house facility built at Milneburg. They accepted Harry Batt, Jr.’s bid to move his amusement park from Bayou St. John and the lake to the end of Elysian Fields. NOPSI set up bus service from downtown to the new “Pontchartrain Beach” amusement area.

Sixteen years after this photo, post-war growth in Gentilly included the opening of Cor Jesu High School. The Brothers of the Sacred Heart built the school on Elysian Fields, in what was the land to the right of this photo.

The truck

I like to think the truck in this photo was one of the ones used by the Zuppardo family at this time. The Zuppardo’s started with a mule-drawn wagon, bringing over-ripe bananas from the port up into Gentilly. The business became profitable, and the family built a roadside stand on Gentilly Road. They replaced the wagons with trucks. Eventually the business became Zuppardo’s Supermarket. The family operated the store on the corner of Elysian Fields and Gentilly until Hurricane Katrina.

Norfolk Southern Back Belt map 1918

Norfolk Southern Back Belt map 1918

The current Norfolk Southern Back Belt dates back to the beginning of the 20th century.

norfolk southern back belt

Norfolk Southern Back Belt in 1918

Map of New Orleans Terminal Company (NOTC) trackage as of 30-June-1918. This path across Orleans Parish became known as the “Back Belt,” in comparison to the “Public Belt” route that hugs the river and services the wharves. The NOTC acquired the land for the Back Belt in the early 1900s. While I don’t have documentation, it’s likely no coincidence that merchant and developer Leon Fellman bought the 1201 block of Canal Street. Did he know about the plans of the railroad men? NOTC later merged with the New Orleans and Northeastern Railroad, which in turn merged into the Southern Railway system in 1916. That’s how the route became part of the current Norfolk Southern System.

City bypass

The idea behind the Back Belt was to bypass most of the populated areas of Orleans Parish. The Back Belt originates in Jefferson Parish. It splits off of the former Illinois Central (now Canadian National) main line at Causeway Blvd. That’s the “Shrewsbury” reference on the map. It crossed the New Canal via a bascule bridge just north of Metairie Road. From there, the route crosses the city, then turns towards the river in St. Bernard Parish.

The city naturally developed in succeeding years. Lakeview and Gentilly caught up with the Back Belt by the 1920s. The Levee Board’s land reclamation projects in the 1920s opened up the area. As part of the Works Progress Administration projects of the Great Depression Era, the Back Belt expanded. WPA constructed underpasses at grade crossings throughout the city. So, once the route clears Carrollton Avenue in Metairie, there are no grade crossings for trains until they cross Lake Pontchartrain and reach Slidell.

The Terminal

The last Southern Railway train,

Terminal Station, late 1910s

NOTC connected the Back Belt to downtown in 1908. They built Terminal Station at Canal and Basin Streets. The route ran adjacent to St. Louis Street through Mid-City. It linked up with the Back Belt at Greenwood Cemetery. Southern Railway used this connection for their “Bernadotte Yard,” so named because the yard started just below the connection point, at Bernadotte and St. Louis Streets.

Terminal Station operated from 1908 to 1954. The city constructed Union Passenger Terminal, shifting all passenger rail operations to the new station. The city demolished Terminal Station in 1956. The link to the Back Belt re-routed to follow the Pontchartrain Expressway. Today, Amtrak’s Crescent route uses that connection. The Back Belt continues to be incredibly busy, used by Norfolk Southern, Union Pacific, CSX, Canadian National/KCS and Amtrak.