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.
The monument is centered atop a mound which rises five feet above surrounding paths; from its base, the height is 46 feet. A light grey, Hallowell, Maine granite was used in the original construction not only for its structural integrity and longevity, but also for its meditative, respectful tones.
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.
Abial Daily Crossman (Mayor of New Orleans – 1846-1854). Perhaps one of his most enduring accomplishments was the construction of a City Hall on St. Charles Avenue. Designed by noted architect James Gallier, the building cost $120,000 in 1846 and is one of the few examples of pure Greek architecture in the United States. Public education is another legacy of the Crossman Administration. Crossman succeeded in obtaining state funding to create a new public school system to educate children from the age of 6 to 10. This system was enlarged through the beneficence of John McDonogh who died in 1850. A.D. Crossman Elementary School on S. Carrollton Avenue honors the memory of the late mayor. The Crossman Monument was designed by Jacques dePouilly in 1863. A symbolic urn is borne atop a gracefully fluted Doric column in this elegant marker. The A.D. Crossman Monument is bordered by a cast iron fence, a mid-19th century signature addition.
John Fitzpatrick ( Mayor of New Orleans – 1892-1896). Served as a State Legislator, President of the Firemen’s Charitable & Benevolent Association, State President of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, and an organizer of the Knights of Columbus. His tenure as mayor ushered in a new era for New Orleans, with railcars no longer being powered by mules, but electricity. He founded the present public library system and was called the Father of the Sewerage and Water System.
Effingham Lawrence (Member of the U.S. House of Representatives – 1875). Born in Bayside, New York in 1820, he moved to Louisiana in 1843. His agricultural pursuits included planting and refining sugar. His political pursuits included tenure in the Louisiana House of Representatives. He was elected to the Forty-third Congress in 1875. He died on Magnolia Plantation in Plaquemines Parish in 1878.
John Kennedy Toole (Pulitzer Prize Author). Toole was born in New Orleans in 1937. An unusually gifted child, he graduated from high school at 16. At 20, he graduated from Tulane University with honors in English and a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship for graduate studies. In 1957, he enrolled at Columbia University where he completed in one year a two-year masters literature program. He was a literature professor until drafted in the army in 1961. While teaching English at Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico, Toole completed his manuscript, A Confederacy of Dunces. Despondent over his inability to get published, Toole tragically ended his life in 1969. In 1980, Louisiana State University published A Confederacy of Dunces and it was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.