Istre Cemetery Houses

Driving between Lafayette and Lake Charles, I took a detour to see if I could find Istre Cemetery, an old graveyard that still had “cemetery houses.”
 
 
Once numbering in the hundreds, only three grave houses remain.  200 years ago, Acadian settlers in southwest Louisiana had a unique burial tradition of building small cypress houses above their traditional brick-and-mortar graves. Called “Petites Maisons” or “Little Houses”, they possessed the details found in their full-sized homes. including doors that lock and window. 
 
Some folks wonder why were they built… and according to Grave House Legends by Jeremy Broussard  “No one knows for sure, but deep in the heart of South Louisiana lies one of Cajun culture’s greatest mysteries – cypress grave houses built over in-ground tombs, constructed with detailed windows, hinged doors, working locks and more.”  
Luckily, I happened to meet one of the family members of a “grave house marker” inhabitant and got to ask the self-proclaimed “Best looking man in Mermentau” why the house was built…  Apparently his dad built the house a year before his death, for the simple reason of “he didn’t want to stay outside.” 
 
 
 

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