No peaceful rest for the buried; state inspects crumbling graves in Garden District cemetery

No peaceful rest for the buried; state inspects crumbling graves in Garden District cemetery
The Lutheran Cemetery on Eddie Robinson Drive is the oldest African American cemetery in Baton Rouge

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A number of remains buried in the Lutheran Cemetery on the western edge of the Baton Rouge Garden District are no longer resting in peace.

Historical black cemetery battered by elements; groundskeepers search for families

Mother Nature has imposed herself upon the historical black cemetery. Graves are deteriorating and are exposing the rusted-out caskets.

(Source: WAFB)
(Source: WAFB)

The cemetery was founded in the late 1800s by the Lutheran Benevolent Society and served as one of the only cemeteries available for African Americans in Baton Rouge. The society no longer exists and now, there’s no one to take care of the grave site.

“What we’re seeing out here is there is damage to some of the above ground tombs and vaults, but we haven’t seen any evidence that that’s intentional,” said Ryan Seidemann, chief of Lands and Natural Resources at the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office. “It looks like it’s just wear and tear and really the ravages of time.”

Part of Seidemann’s job is to inspect cemeteries to see if graves have been desecrated. He says that did not appear to be the case at the Lutheran Cemetery.

As far as fixing the crumbling graves, he says he has documented the damage and now will attempt to contact the families.

(Source: WAFB)

"We're going to come back out here to revisit to see if any of them have actual human remains that need to be secured so that they can be held safely until family can be contacted to do the necessary repair work,” he said.

If you know of a cemetery that has fallen into disrepair or has suspicious damage, you are urged to report it to the Louisiana Cemetery Board.

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