Iberville Redevelopment Slowed Due to Forgotten Burials

- Thursday December 27th, 2012 - 18:10 - Source: Discovery of human remains delays Iberville...
The $589 million redevelopment for the Iberville Housing project is brought to a sudden halt at the discovery of human remains.

It is not really surprising, especially when considering the history and popular perceptions of New Orleans, that there might be one or two bodies buried where one was not expecting them. But what if it is a cemetery? When the New Orleans Housing Authority kicked off the $589 million project, and received a $30.5 milliion Federal grant for redevelopment of the Iberville Housing Projects, they did not expect to encounter a forgotten section of a cemetery.


Iberville Housing Projects - Source: Wikipedia

For a little background, the Iberville Projects are right on the edge of the French Quarter, and part of the 4th Ward of downtown New Orleans.  This was also the site of the infamous Storyville red-light district. The current buildings were constructed in the 1940s. The buildings suffered little under the wrath of Hurrican Katrina.


1841 Map of St. Louis Cemetery - Source: the Historic New Orleans Collection

The redevelopment project for the 10-block complex entails demolishing two thirds of the buildings, and constructing 2,500 mixed-income housing units. But before any demolition, the New Orleans Housing Authority requires a survey identifying anything of historic significance. During the survey, archaeologists located caskets and human remains. After archaeologists studied historic maps, they found that the iconic St. Louis No. 1 cemetery was once much larger than its present size. The current assumption is that the found burials are part of a forgotten section. The discovery comes as little surprise to residents and archaeologists alike, especially as part of the complex looks out over St. Louis No. 2, and another over St. Louis No. 1.


St. Louis No. 1 Cemetery- Source: pfredd.comThe project has been slowed six months by the discovery, as state laws demand no new construction on cemeteries. Architects for the project have redrawn the plans to allow for the area to be used as a green space.

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