Charity Hospital Cemetery No. 2: Excavations from 1980s

The Charity Hospital’s Cemetery No 2. * was used actively between the 1850s and the 1920s to bury the poor and those who succumbed to illness and disease at the hospital. Included in these burials were enslaved people, immigrants, victims of a yellow fever epidemic, and fallen Civil War soldiers.

Its location occupies an area adjacent to Greenwood Cemetery and St. Patrick’s Cemetery No. 3, with Rosedale Drive covering its north and City Park Avenue its south. The current site location is now part of Canal Boulevard, due to an extension that was done to the south and northbound lanes in 1986.

During construction, workers discovered a series of coffins made of wood as well as what appeared to be human skeletal remains along the southbound lane during their process of pavement resurfacing and drainage replacement. As a result of this discovery, the City Attorney contacted the University of New Orleans Department of Anthropology’s Archaeological and Cultural Research Program in order to conduct a preliminary archaeological investigation to gauge the possible cultural significance of the site and possible adverse effects of continued construction.

The University of New Orleans’ Department of Anthropology, the City Streets Department of New Orleans, and the Louisiana State Department of Transportation and Development created a mitigation plan to monitor and control the progress of the project and minimize the damage to the site. As a result of the archaeological investigations, approximately 157 burials were recovered as well as a myriad of artifacts related to the cultural and social lives of New Orleans’ working class during the 19th century.

*Redaction: Originally this article was titled “Cypress Grove Cemetery No. 2," which reflects the original site name on file with the State of Louisiana Division of Archaeology associated with Site Number 16OR108. This site is associated with the burials excavated and exhumed by University of New Orleans in 1980 that had been located in the southbound travel lane of Canal Boulevard. The report associated with the site was called “Charity’s Cypress Grove Hospital No. 2” which is in fact a misnomer. Subsequent investigation by Earth Search, Inc. in 2008 recovered the full chain of title for Canal Boulevard, which includes the public sidewalks adjacent to the roadway, was owned and operated by Charity Hospital from its use as a cemetery in 1849 until its transition to a road by the 1930s. Canal Boulevard is next to what is today Greenwood Cemetery, which at one point was a potter’s field known as “Cypress Grove”. The archaeological site name has since been updated to “Charity Hospital Cemetery No. 2."



Near Intersection of Canal Boulevard and City Park Avenue, New Orleans, LA