Millionaire’s Row – Metairie Cemetery

new orleans cemetery photography

Millionaire’s Row in New Orleans’ Metairie Cemetery. The cemetery sits on one of the rare finds in the New Orleans area – a ridge. The property was actually a horse-racing track in the 1830s, but the track was converted to a Confederate Army camp during the Civil War, until the federal Army captured the city in 1862.

In the Reconstruction period, a wealthy man from Baltimore by the name of Charles T. Howard (who had moved to New Orleans prior to the Civil War) was unable to gain membership into many of the area’s social clubs. Of particular concern to him was the fact that the Metairie Jockey Club slighted him.

Howard vowed he would buy the race track and turn it into a graveyard. Reconstruction provided the opportunity for him to follow through on his threat: He purchased the land in 1872 and began the process of selling plots.

The interior part of the track was sold to wealthy families, and the elaborate tombs built there became known as “Millionaires Row.” Streets were added on the track, and smaller plots were sold to less-affluent families. Also, immigrant communities formed benevolent societies, which purchased land within the cemetery and built large mausoleums in which their members were buried.

The cemetery was the original resting place of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederate States of America, who died while visiting New Orleans in 1889. His remains were moved to Richmond, Va., in 1893.

Other famous residents of Metairie Cemetery include musicians Louis Prima and Al Hirt, baseball hall-of-famer Mel Ott and Popeye Fried Chicken magnate Al Copeland.