Apr 26, 2010 11:17 AM by Sharlee Jacobs

Grave House Legends

 LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) - The unique grave houses in the Istre
Cemetery in Mermentau Cove are getting more attention than ever.
      Nobody seems to know exactly why the structures were built,
something that became evident last year after the release of the
documentary film Little Houses by local brothers Jeremy and Zach
Broussard. Now, Jeremy Broussard has joined with local photographer
Gwen Aucoin to produce Grave House Legends, a companion book.
      "When we were working on the film, we interviewed a lot of
experts and locals, and at first we thought we would find an answer
as to why grave houses were built," Jeremy Broussard said. "But
we didn't find an answer. It appears that we'll never know for
sure, and I think that's something that added to the film."
      But the lack of a definitive answer didn't stop people from
approaching Broussard with their own theories or stories they had
heard about the creation of the houses.
      "I realized that these are great legends, and a perfect way to
tell the rest of the story," Broussard said.
      The 64-page book features several photos of the houses and the
cemetery, as well as the stories behind some of the theories behind
their creation. Some people believe they were built to keep prayer
candles lit, while others are convinced it was to protect the
graves from cattle and livestock.
      They may have been borrowed from Indian burial customs, or
perhaps as a way to copy the elaborate tombs seen in New Orleans.
Still others believe the houses were designed so that the deceased
could drink coffee and play cards whenever they want.
      The book will be released on Wednesday with a special release
party at the Acadiana Center for Film and Media. Aucoin and
Broussard will be on hand to discuss the book, and the event also
will feature a screening of Little Houses.
      "One thing I really wanted after the film was done was for
people to see the houses, in person if possible," Broussard said.
"But the next best thing seemed to be to see them in a book. I
think the photos really tell the story better than anything."


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