I have always been fascinated by the history of Metairie Cemetery. I recently heard the company that runs the cemetery turned 100 years old this year. Can you tell me more?
Old Fan in Old Metairie
Dear Old Fan,
The company you are asking about is Stewart Enterprises Inc. It was founded in 1910 and is the second-largest provider of products and services in the funerary industry in the United States. Right now, the company owns and operates 230 funeral homes and 144 cemeteries in 26 states and Puerto Rico.
Stewart Enterprises began on April 26, 1910, when Albert Stewart acquired three St. Vincent de Paul Cemeteries and the St. Vincent de Paul Marble Shop. At the time, he was president of the Acme Realty Company, and a client deeded him the properties in lieu of payment. After Stewart tried unsuccessfully to dispose of the properties, he decided to make the businesses profitable. In 1931, his sons Frank Sr. and Charles incorporated the properties as the Acme Marble & Granite Company.
The company expanded in 1949 by building Lake Lawn Park Cemetery and developing a large perpetual-care mausoleum. Twenty years later, in 1969, Frank Jr. purchased the adjoining Metairie Cemetery from the Weiblen Family. He established the Lake Lawn Metairie Funeral Home in 1979. Metairie Cemetery was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.
Metairie Cemetery, established in 1872, should be on everyone's list of places to visit because it documents the social, political, cultural and military history of New Orleans. It also has the distinction of being the only cemetery in America that once was a race course.