Cemetery Curses Revisited

Cemetery Curses Revisited

Cemetery curses revisited: is the Caesers Superdome really cursed?

cemetery curses revisited

Map of the area around Caesar’s Superdome. The red rectangle shows the outline of Girod Street Cemetery.

The Saints: Cemetery curses revisited

cemetery curses revisited

Portion of the Robinson Atlas of 1883 showing Girod Street Cemetery

As we approach Halloween, fans of the New Orleans Saints often return to the topic of the Superdome and the Cemetery. While much research exists on the boundaries of Girod Street Cemetery and the Superdome, the curse theory always returns. The talk always gets serious when the Saints aren’t playing well.

We’ve discussed this before and in detail: Girod Cemetery isn’t under Da Dome. Still, folks find remains in the vicinity of the stadium that are outside the perimeter of the cemetery. This happens all over the city, and there are reasons for burials outside established cemeteries.

Indigenous burials

Indigenous burial mounds in the city come as no surprise. The native tribes were here before the colonizers, after all. Most of these mounds stand on high ground. When the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority discovered human remains near Canal Blvd. and City Park Avenue as part of bus/streetcar terminal construction, it made sense. The area is on the Metairie Ridge. It’s high ground. Since cemeteries surround the intersection, those remains were a combination of indigenous people and colonizers.

Initial Disorganization

It takes years for government to green-light cemetery construction. While the wrangling takes place, families often buried loved ones in the general vicinity of the proposed site. It’s not like they could wait for things to shake out, after all. So, figuring close was better than not, they did what they felt they had to do.


cemetery curses revisited

Section of the Robinson Atlas of 1883 showing St. Louis Cemetery No. 2, along Claiborne Avenue in Faubourg Treme

Even after a cemetery opened for business, people often couldn’t afford the price of a plot, much less an above-ground tomb. The same thinking as initial disorganization applied. Let’s get the departed close. A walk through the cemetery connected those still living with the dead, even if they couldn’t put flowers on a grave.

Cemetery Disintegration

When a cemetery falls into disrepair, things get messy. This was the case with Girod Street. The chapter of Christ Episcopal did not adequately prepare for long-term maintenance of the cemetery. By the 1950s, the cemetery was in ruins. Grave robbers discarded coffins and remains all over the cemetery, in search of valuables. Naturally some of the remains ended up outside the cemetery walls.

Consecrated Ground

This is also a complicated subject. It was important to Christians that those buried in “holy ground” were free of serious sin. For example, if a spouse committed adultery, but did not seek forgiveness for the mortal sin, the family who owned the plot might refuse that person burial. A priest might refuse to preside over the rites of burial. Those close to the deceased were told to find someplace else. Another reason for exclusion from consecrated ground was suicide. Clergy and family would reject any connection to a person who took their own life.

In most of these cases, there were relatives who disagreed with this harsh treatment. While they were unable to get the departed inside the walls, they buried their loved one close by. Therefore, numerous reasons exist to explain remains outside the cemeteries.

Girod Cemetery isn’t under Da Dome

Girod Cemetery isn’t under Da Dome

Girod Cemetery – no, it’s not cursing the Saints

Girod Cemetery

Girod Cemetery 1885. Illustration in book “Souvenir of New Orleans and the Exposition”

Girod Cemetery was the first Protestant cemetery in New Orleans

Since this comes up every football season. I wrote an article about this in 2007. Let’s update it a bit.

The original citation and introduction:

Wednesday Cemetery Blogging and NOLA Kossacks Open Thread
Sep 26, 2007 10:12am Central Daylight Time by YatPundit

Thing is, Da Dome wasn’t built on the cemetery. Girod Street Cemetery was built between Girod, LaSalle, and Liberty Streets, roughly on the area now occupied by the parking garage for the New Orleans Centre shopping mall. I got one piece wrong in the original article: The stadium was built on land occupied by a bunch of warehouses and other commercial buildings. The engine terminal was on the other side of Union Passenger Terminal.

Before the Superdome

Girod Cemetery

Girod Cemetery and Poydras Street, 1883

This is a section of the Robinson Atlas of 1883. The cemetery extends to Freret Street.

Girod Cemetery

New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal (left), Girod Cemetery (right)

Here is an aerial shot from 1954, after the completion of Union Passenger Terminal. So, Girod Cemetery is to the right. The Chapter of Christ built Girod in 1822. Prior to 1822, Protestants buried their dead in the back of St. Louis Cemetery Number One.  ,

Girod was a grand cemetery for almost a century. Unfortunately, Christ Episcopal did not establish a “perpetual care” fund. So, the cemetery deteriorated.  The Chapter lacked the funds to maintain it. By 1957, the cemetery was a jungle.. Therefore, the diocese deconsecrated Girod. They demolished the cemetery in late 1957.

The Superdome and UPT Today

Girod Cemetery

Map of area around Da Dome

So, here’s a map of the area around the Superdome today. Notice Freret Street.

Girod Cemetery

Google Earth view of Da Dome

Here’s a Google Earth view of the same area The train sheds mark the stadium’s position. Compare that and Freret Street. The earlier photo puts the cemetery below the stadium. So, Champions Square occupies the top end of the cemetery. New Orleans Centre occupied the site of Champions Square before 2010.

The curse isn’t real

While the curse isn’t real, it would explain a lot about the Saints! .