Eclectic design in cast iron

The Reynolds Family Tomb, Metarie Cemetery, New Orleans

The Reynolds Family Tomb, Metarie Cemetery, New Orleans

Cast iron became much less expensive in the second half of the 19th Century coupled with the ease of making more intricate patterns and designs.  Simple wrought iron adorning many of the homes, commercial buildings, and apartment buildings in New Orleans was ripped out and replaced with more intricate cast-iron railings and fencing.

The choice of cast iron for the building instead of marble or granite for the tomb of William H. Reynolds, however, was likely due to the fact that he owned the Reynolds foundry at New Orleans.  His family tomb is the only cast-iron tomb in the Metarie Cemetery.  Built in 1877, the tomb is an eclectic design featuring Byzantine-style twisted corner columns, an Italianate cornice, and a highly-decorative iron work adorning the top.

Also symbolism further decorates the tomb—inverted torches on the sides of the tomb and the draped urns on the four corners of the plot.  Inverted torches with the flames curling out from the bottom are molded into the side panels of the tomb.  The flame or fire is symbolic of the soul. Here the inverted torch represents a life that has been extinguished.

The urn, an almost ubiquitous 19th Century symbol, was found in nearly every American cemetery. The urn is a container used to hold the ashes or the cremated remains of the dead.  The urns surrounding the Reynolds Family Tomb are draped. The drapery represents a shroud symbolizing death and sorrow.  It can also be a motif that represents a veil that separates the two realms—Earth and Heaven.


A native of Columbus, Ohio

Born August 1, 1831

Died August 17, 1877

His Children


Born October 17, 1874

Died October 17, 1874


Born February 12, 1877

Died September 8, 1878

Margaret TORPIE

Wife of Wm. H. Reynolds

Born June 9, 1842

Died June 30, 1885



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