City Park Avenue at Canal Street

Click on cross above for Greenwood Cemetery photo album

Greenwood Cemetery was established by the Firemen’s Charitable & Benevolent Association in 1852. Its opening immediately relieved the overcrowding at Cypress Grove. In 1852, America was stricken with an epidemic of yellow-fever. New Orleans, America’s third largest city, was hit particularly hard. By 1853, over 8,000 in the city had expired from the disease. Greenwood’s one hundred and fifty acres provided an expanse to accommodate the pressing need at the time and for future generations.

When the Firemen’s Charitable & Benevolent Association broke ground to build Greenwood Cemetery, it broke with tradition and built the first above ground cemetery without walls. Sparse in architecture and landscaping, Greenwood was designed to maximize its acreage to make room for nearly 20,000 grave lots. Imposing memorials line the perimeter giving the cemetery a park atmosphere.

The first Civil War memorial to be erected in New Orleans is Greenwood’s Confederate Monument. A low mound marks the mass grave of six hundred Confederate soldiers whose remains were gathered through the efforts of the Ladies Benevolent Association of Louisiana. Dedicated in 1874, the masonry mausoleum is topped by a granite gallery enclosing an imposing marble pedestal. A statue of a Confederate infratryman resting on his rifle surmounts this pedestal.

The statuary is of a Cararra marble and was carved in Italy. The pedestal base has integral, carved busts of Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, Albert Sidney, Johnston and Leonidas Polk. Architect Benjamin M. Harrod was the designer; the memorial contractor was George Stroud.

Greenwood’s centerpiece memorial is the Firemen’s Monument designed and constructed by Charles Orleans, and erected by the Association in 1887 in honor of its 50th anniversary. The figure of a volunteer fireman is enshrined beneath a cluster of Gothic arches crowned by a steeple. The six-foot high Italian marble statue was created by Alexander Doyle of New York and carved by artist Nicoli.

It is believed that a monument to Sir Walter Scott in Edinburg, Scotland inspired Charles Orleans’ design for the Firemen’s Monument. The monument honors the memory of volunteer firemen who died in the line of duty. The names of twenty-three volunteer fire companies are honored around the base in tribute to their service to the citizens of New Orleans.

The use of cast iron for tombs came into vogue in mid-19th century cemeteries, and Greenwood Cemetery has its share of stunning examples. An iron tomb enclosed by a Gothic-styled fence holds the remains of Isaac Newton Marks, a former president of the Firemen’s Association. Marks a successful businessman, became a volunteer firefighter with the Perseverance Fire Co. No. 13 in 1843.

Another imposing monument at Greenwood is the tomb of Lodge No.30 of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. The fraternal order was founded in 1868 by a group of actors and musicians in New York. A majestic bronze elk stands guard over a burial mound blanketed with grass. A marble chamber beneath contains eighteen burial vaults. Its granite entrance employs the Doric style in its use of two fluted columns supporting an entablature. A clock with hands pointing to the 11th hour, symbolic of a ritual toast to absent members, adorns the pediment. Bronze doors seal the entry. The tomb was erected in 1912 by Albert Weiblen, a German immigrant and one of the most successful builders of tombs and cemetery monuments in the South.

Numerous fraternal organizations joined the Volunteer Firemen and Elks in providing memorials to their deceased members. Multivault tombs preserve the history of these organizations and the contributions of their members to New Orleans. The Police Mutual Benevolent Association, the Swiss Society, and the New Orleans Typographical Union are fine examples at Greenwood. The typographical union, formed in 1855, was the first labor union in the region.

In 1982, the Firemen’s Charitable & Benevolent Association opened a new chapter at Greenwood with the addition of a magnificent mausoleum. With 14,000 burial spaces planned, the mausoleum will meet the ever-growing needs of the community and provide peace, comfort and security for families looking for a final resting place for their beloved and for themselves.

For over 170 years, Greenwood Cemetery has honored the history of New Orleans, its bravest citizens, and its industrious leaders with its magnificent memorials, monuments and tombs. The dedication of the Firemen’s Charitable & Benevolent Association promises to preserve these hallowed grounds for future generations to honor the memory of their loved ones.

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