Street Guide to the Phantoms of the French Quarter—Decatur Street

The French Quarter has been lived in and died in; human energy has been manifested continuously and freely for 250 years. Where we find presently a sedate restaurant, we would have found—20 years ago, 50 years ago, 100 years ago or more—a dry goods store, a grocery, a saloon, a coffeehouse, a patisserie, an apothecary, a gambling joint, a silversmith, a printer, a jeweler, a letter-writer, a whorehouse, a bank. They may have disappeared along with their proprietors, but they’ve left behind an aura that infuses the atmosphere.

–Andy Peter Antippas, A Guide to the Historic French Quarter (History & Guide). 2013.

New Orleans’ French Quarter—the Vieux Carré to locals—is among a handful of locales in the South that possesses a high concentration of haunted places. Encompassing nearly two-thirds of a square mile (.66 to be exact), the French Quarter has been said to have spirits in nearly every building and site. Even looking at the documented hauntings here, the number is quite impressive.

The French Quarter is generally defined as the section stretching from Canal Street to Esplanade Avenue and from the Mississippi River northwest to North Rampart Street. This section of the city is where the city was originally founded by the French in 1718. With buildings and sites spanning three centuries, the French Quarter is easily the most paranormally active neighborhood in the entire city.

This series of articles is meant to act as a street by street guide to those hauntings. While some of these stories have gained quite a bit of notoriety in the literature, like Royal Street’s LaLaurie Mansion, and Bourbon Street’s Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, some stories have only been explored in the literature once or twice. This is an attempt to synthesize information from the many sources that exist on the French Quarter into a succinct guide.

For more haunted places in the French Quarter visit the main page for my series, “Phantoms of the French Quarter.”

Sources

  • Antippas, Andy Peter. A Guide to the Historic French Quarter (History & Guide). Arcadia Publishing. Kindle Edition. 2013.

Decatur Street

Decatur Street originally ran alongside the levee that protected the city from flooding and was called Rue de la Quai, Rue de la Levee, or Levee Street until 1870 when it was renamed for early American naval hero Stephen Decatur. Until the early 20th century, much of Decatur Street was a working-class and immigrant area with “Upper Decatur Street” (the portion of the street near to Canal Street) serving sailors during their stopovers in port.

Ryan’s Irish Pub
241 Decatur Street

Patrons sitting near the back wall of this popular Irish pub have seen the apparition of an African-American workman. Jeff Dwyer posits that he may be a victim of the fire that swept through this section of the city in December of 1794.

Sources

  • Dwyer, Jeff. Ghost Hunter’s Guide to New Orleans, Revised Edition. Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing, 2017.

Bienville House
320 Decatur Street

This elegant boutique hotel began life in the early 19th century as a rice mill and warehouse. The property was transformed in 1835 into the North American Hotel and has served as a hotel for much of its existence. When Decatur Street began to see revitalization efforts in the mid-20th century, the building was renovated as a private apartment building. In 1972 the Monteleone family, owners of the famed and haunted Hotel Monteleone, purchased the building for use as a hotel again.

According to psychic and paranormal investigator Cari Roy, the Bienville is home to several spirits. One is the wraith of a young woman whom guests have awakened to find standing at their bedside. Often, the guests are unable to move for a moment, though the apparition vanishes after they are released from their momentary paralysis.

Sources

Kerry Irish Pub
331 Decatur Street

Ad Southern Mattress Company haunted Kerry Irish Pub French Quarter ghosts New Orleans Louisiana
Ad from The Town Talk of Alexandria, LA, 10 August 1914. This business once occupied the building that now houses the Kerry Irish Pub.

This three-story commercial building was probably constructed in the 19th century. Ads in early 20th century papers show this building was utilized by the Southern Mattress Company, though that does little to explain the cold spots, disembodied footsteps and voices that staff and patrons have encountered within the warm interior of this pub.

Sources

French Market Inn
509 Decatur Street

Originally a bakery for the Dreux family, this 18th century structure has hosted an inn since the Baroness de Pontalba purchased the property in the 1830s. Reports of ghosts began to surface shortly after the building opened to guests. Shadowy figures slipping in and out of rooms and the sounds of metallic clanging, possibly the same sounds produced by a pulley system that operated in the original bakery, have haunted the inn for its almost 200 years of history.

French Market Inn haunted French Quarter ghosts New Orleans Louisiana
The 500 Block of Decatur Street, 2007. The gold colored building is the French Market Inn. Photo by Infrogmation, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Stories of guests waking to find a bloody handprint on their sheets have also surfaced. A paranormal investigator staying in room 218 was kept awake throughout the night by the feeling of unseen presences, an alarm clock going off periodically, her shower turning off and on on its own accord, and bangs and thuds of unknown origin.

Sources

Tujague’s
823 Decatur Street
 

The second oldest restaurant in the city after Antoine’s, Tujague’s (pronounced TOO-zhagz) has operated since 1856. Opened by Guillaume Tujague and his wife, Marie Abadie, the restaurant initially served the dock workers and laborers who crowded this neighborhood. For years, the restaurant’s biggest competitor was Beague’s which operated at the corner of Decatur and Madison, on Jackson Square. The owners of both restaurants teamed up and opened the Begue’s space as Tujague’s in 1914.

Tujague's haunted French Quarter ghosts New Orleans Louisiana
Tujague’s 2007, by Infrogmation. Courtesy of
Wikipedia.

One of the more interesting spirits here is believed to be that of Julian Eltinge, the famous vaudevillian female impersonator. Eltinge always made a point to stop here when he was in town and a photograph of him once graced the dining room. After this photograph was moved to the attic, his image appeared in a selfie taken by some patrons in 2013.

On the second floor, which once housed the kitchen, the sounds of breaking glass and china is sometimes heard. This is thought to be related to a love triangle that existed between Madame Beague, who owned the restaurant, her second husband Hypolite, and a young lady who worked in the kitchen. 

Sources

  • Knapp, Gwendolyn. “A cross dressing ghost haunts Tujague’s.” New Orleans Eater. 28 October 2015.
  • Walker, Judy. “Poppy Tooker communes with Tujague’s ghosts in new cookbook.” Times-Picayune. 27 October 2015.

Turtle Bay
1119 Decatur Street

Writer Alison Fensterstock notes that the 1100 block of Decatur Street “is a particularly fertile area for haunting,” in her 2009 article, “When Ghosts Attack.” In fact, when she visited Turtle Bay while researching the article, her presence may have riled the restaurant’s resident spirit, “Boudreaux.” When she returned to the restaurant the following day, she discovered that the spirit had thrown a tantrum, throwing a couple knives and a pan in the kitchen. This activity, however, is not limited to visits by writers, the cook explained to Fensterstock that the business’ owner was not liked by the spirit and had once pushed a table into him.

Sources

Santos Bar
1135 Decatur Street 

Santos, a Rock n’ Roll bar, is the latest of many bars and clubs that have occupied this 19th century building. Spirits here include former patrons and staff members. For further information, see my writeup, “Sipping with Spirits—New Orleans.”

Sipping with Spirits—New Orleans, Louisiana

Santos Bar
1135 Decatur Street
New Orleans, Louisiana

For years, women have encountered a man in the ladies’ room in this building. In the hedonistic atmosphere of New Orleans, this might not generally be cause for alarm, but when the man stares the women down, they often leave, and notify a staff member. Dutifully, the staff member will check the restroom, though they know the man is only one of the handful of spirits that inhabit this ancient structure. Known as the “Guy in the Bathroom,” the gentleman, wearing a tank top and Jams shorts, is just one of the lost souls remaining here.

Peeling back the layers of history in New Orleans can be a fascinating process. The land upon which Santos Bar is located once was a part of the Ursuline Convent that still stands on the opposite side of the block on Chartres Street. Ursuline sisters from the French city of Rouen arrived in New Orleans in 1727 to establish a hospital and provide education for girls. The sisters were granted a large parcel of land stretching from the river to Chartres Street. This property held an assemblage of structures, several of which were hospital buildings. With the many epidemics of cholera and yellow fever that swept the city in its early years, this site likely saw many deaths.

In the first decades of the 19th century, the convent was moved to a new facility in the Ninth Ward, and the main convent building converted to use as a residence for the bishop of New Orleans while many of the convent’s buildings were demolished to make way for homes and commercial buildings. A series of three-story brick buildings were built along Decatur Street from 1830-1831 called “Ursuline Row.” (see my Street Guide to the Phantoms of the French Quarter for more haunted places on Decatur Street) There does seem to be some contention as what buildings were constructed as part of Ursuline Row. Samuel Wilson’s 1959 A Guide to the Architecture of New Orleans includes all buildings in this block facing Decatur Street, though the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) only includes Nos. 1107-1133 in their collection; stopping short of including the building at No. 1135. Regardless of if the building was part of Ursuline Row, the current structure was likely built no earlier than the 19th century.

Ursuline Row HABS photo New Orleans ghosts French Quarter
Ursuline Row in June 1936. No. 1135 is in the background towards the right side. Photo taken by Richard Koch for the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS). Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

For decades the neighborhood around Ursuline Row was a working-class neighborhood inhabited by dock workers, laborers, and immigrants. In the 1930s, saloons and bars opened up along the street and hosted jazz bands. This address was occupied by the Popeye Beer Parlor, which remained open for almost a decade. This would be one of the first of many drinking establishments that would occupy this building.

Ursuline Row New Orleans ghosts French Quarter Santos Bar Decatur Street
1135 Decatur Street in 2007 when it was home to The Whirling Dervish. Photo by Infrogmation, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Over the past few decades, this building has played host to a panoply of bars ranging from a lesbian bar, Rubyfruit Jungle, to a well-known underground goth bar, The Crystal, with many variations in between. As I write this, the building is a bar called Santos, run by the same owners of The Saint Bar & Lounge on St. Mary Street (which is also known to be haunted). While the clientele has changed over the years, spirits remain.

A 2009 article (this address was Rubyfruit Jungle when this article was written) on New Orleans bar ghosts notes, however, that the most well-known spirit on the premises was the Guy in the Bathroom. An earlier article, from 2004 when the building was occupied by The Whirling Dervish, looks at more spirits. At this time, the bar was owned by a businessman who also ran a French Quarter haunted history tour, which featured the bar as one of its stops. The article mentions the Guy in the Bathroom, and includes three more spirits, as well as vampires that are rumored to inhabit the shadows here.

One ghost is always seen upstairs and another hangs out where the old DJ booth used to be.

The third is seen outside the bar where he was supposedly murdered when the club was known as The Crystal.

A fourth ghost, the owner at the time of The Crystal was bludgeoned to death with a baseball bat in the upstairs room.

Now his ghost is said to lurk in the upper bar.

I have not been able to locate any information on murders here, though such tragedies in the building’s history are almost par for the course for New Orleans.

In a city where spirits are a hallmark for many establishments, Santos, it seems, is a perfect place to hear good music and sip with spirits.

Sources

Spectral Selfies in the News

In the past few weeks, several people visiting haunted places here in the South have been photobombed in a spectral fashion. Visitors to St. Francisville, Louisiana’s The Myrtles Plantation and Homestead, Florida’s Hotel Redland have captured images of someone in their photographs, someone who wasn’t physically present when the photos were taken.

Six friends visiting The Myrtles decided to take a group selfie just outside of the house. Upon closer inspection, the photographer noticed the face of a seventh woman peering from behind a window pane behind the group. While all the women in the group are smiling, the women in the window pane appears to be scowling. Photographs of the this nature are easy to fake, so I cannot say this photograph is authentic. Surely, this is not the first photograph taken at The Myrtles to possibly show something spectral. In 2015, I published a photograph taken by an acquaintance that appears to show someone sitting on the staircase.

The Myrtles, 2005, by Bnet504. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Perhaps the most famous haunted places in the country, The Myrtles (7747 US-61, St. Francisville, Louisiana) is a late 18th-century plantation with a tragic history. Of course, much of that tragic history has literally come back to haunt the home. The house is preserved as a museum, bed & breakfast, and haunted attraction. In my opinion, at least some of that tragic history has been created to make the haunting more interesting. I looked into these stories in a blog entry several years ago.

It’s interesting that the other selfie that has been published in the news is from a place that also has a doubtful history. The history of the Hotel Redland (5 South Flagler Avenue, Homestead, Florida) is not as long or as varied as The Myrtles, though it has also left spectral impressions. Those spectral impressions led a friend of a hotel staff member to investigate the hotel recently. During the investigation, the visitor snapped a selfie standing in the lobby. In the selfie, a face appears which the British tabloid, the Daily Mirror, described as resembling the horror movie villain, Michael Myers, from John Carpernter’s movie franchise, Halloween.

My opinion on the photograph is that this is a case of pareidolia, when the brain tries to make sense of something chaotic by finding patterns in it. In this case, light reflected in the window pane creates a “face,” within the reflection.

The first building on this site was constructed in 1904 as a boarding house for railroad employees called the Homestead Inn. This building’s history was rather quiet until the fateful day of November 10, 1913. I’ll allow the Miami Metropolis to take over the story from here:

A few minutes before 2 o’clock in the afternoon the large steam roller, being used in rolling the streets, puffed down in front of the Homestead Inn, and it was only a few seconds later that the roof of the hotel was discovered on fire, having caught from a flying spark from the engine. Soon the entire fire-fighting population of the town was on the scene, and all efforts were brought to bear to save the burning building, but to no avail. However, the furnishings were carried to safety and the loss of the building is just about covered by insurance.

Flames spread to five adjoining buildings destroying several other businesses. The paper ends the article by mentioning that a fire caused by sparks from the same steamroller had damaged the city’s other hotel across the street that morning. “It is likely that some action will be taken to curb the chances of another such conflagration starting from the same cause.”

Hotel Redland, 2011, by Ebyabe. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

While the damage to the structure led to much of it being rebuilt, the story of this dramatic fire continued to be told and expanded. The story of the fire as told now sets the scene late at night where the fire takes the lives of a number of guests soundly asleep in their rooms. These same guests now haunt the hotel.

An article in the August 16th Miami New Times detailed a paranormal investigation of the hotel by the South Florida team of PRISM Miami, lead by investigator David Rodriguez. That article hints at the hotel actually being haunted, though the details are somewhat vague.

Sources

‘Empty, save the memories’–Louisiana

Beauregard Parish Jail
205 West First Street
DeRidder, Louisiana

Joe Genna’s last hours were full of pain and misery just as the last moments of J. J. Brevelle’s life had been. On the fateful evening of August 28, 1926, Genna and Molton Brasseaux robbed and beat Brevelle, a 43-year-old cab driver, on the outskirts of DeRidder and dumped his body in a mill pond. As he awaited hanging within the Gothic confines of the Beauregard Parish Jail, Genna tried to take his own life by swallowing several poison pills. The Shreveport Times takes up the story:

Genna, pale and haggard and apparently deathly ill from the effects of the several poison tablets he swallowed in his cell Thursday night, required the assistance of deputy sheriffs to walk from his cell to the death chamber. The deputies supported him while he stood to make his statement of repentance and express willingness to die. Friday he repented of his act for having attempted to take his life.

The paper notes that at 12:54 on Friday afternoon, March 9, 1928, Genna “mounted the scaffold at the Beauregard parish jail and was dead five minutes later of a broken neck. Molton Brasseaux walked to the same scaffold to meet his death about twenty minutes later.”

The hangings of Genna and Brasseaux took place under the auspices of the stumpy Gothic central tower of the Beauregard Parish Jail. While the “Collegiate Gothic” architecture of the building has been deemed the most fanciful of all the jails in the state, it still lends a cruel sense of ominousness to the building squatting on its haunches next to the proudly standing Beaux-Arts courthouse. Under the jail’s foreboding tower, a circular staircase rises with cells off each round. Hangings could be conducted here allowing for the whole of the jail’s population to witness the death-drop of the convicted. This horrifying feature was used this one time, though it did lend a nickname to the building, the “Hanging Jail.”

Beauregard Parish Jail, 2005. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

For a little over a hundred years these two siblings, the beautiful courthouse and the ugly jail, have existed side by side. Constructed for the newly established Beauregard Parish in 1914, the courthouse continues to operate while the jail is vacant, save for tourists, spirits, spirit-hunters, and memories, having been replaced by a new facility in 1984.

The day of the hanging in 1928, schoolchildren were witness to a pair of black wicker coffins being carried from the jail, though the pair of convicts may not have left spiritually. In 2006, the state’s most notable paranormal investigative organization, Louisiana Spirits Paranormal Investigations, explored the jail. The group did detect some activity that was unexplained as well as having some personal experiences hearing footsteps and flowing water. During their second investigation, the group’s report notes that many of the windows are open thus allowing ambient noise from the street to filter in, which may be mistaken for paranormal activity.

More recent investigations have captured even more compelling evidence. During one investigation, an investigator asked “Do you know that you’re dead?” and recorded the response, “I’m alive. I’m alive.” A photographer taking photos of the jail a few years ago may have captured the image of a jailer sitting on the porch. Starting last year, the jail has been opened at night during the Halloween season allowing visitors to explore the building in the dark.

Scribbled on the wall of a cell, graffiti reveals that at least one inmate expected to remain in this dark place forever: “Here inside these chambers of death I will dwell forever more. I lost my heart, my mind and my soul just because of a bolted door.”

Sources

‘Twas the Night Before Halloween—Recycled Revenants

‘Twas the night before Halloween and all through the blog, little was stirring…

This move from Blogger to this new site has been tedious and time-consuming. I’ve tossed out a great deal of junky posts and put many posts aside that need to be updated and refreshed leaving me with many bits and pieces that should be republished in a different context. This is a selection of recycled pieces for Halloween.

East Coast/West Coast
138 St. George Street
St. Augustine, Florida

This modest commercial building once housed Kixie’s Men’s Store and some odd activity. The shop employed a young tailor, Kenneth Beeson who would later serve as mayor for the city. While working late one evening he noticed a door opening by itself followed by the sweet scent of funereal flowers. After experiencing odd activity for a while, Beeson put out a tape recorder and set it to record just before he left. When he returned the following morning, he was shocked to discover a plethora of sounds including marching feet and guttural growls. Disturbed by these incidents, Beeson had a priest exorcise the building. The activity ceased.

Sources 

  • Cain, Suzy & Dianne Jacoby. A Ghostly Experience: Tales of St. Augustine, Florida. City Gate Productions, 1997.
  • Lapham, Dave. Ghosts of St. Augustine. Sarasota, FL: Pineapple Press, 1997.

Western & Atlantic Railroad Tunnel
Chetoogeta Mountain
Tunnel Hill, Georgia

As the railroad spread its tentacles throughout the nation before the tumult of the Civil War, a route was needed from Augusta, Georgia to Chattanooga, Tennessee. Numerous obstacles stood in the way, but the biggest was Chetoogeta Mountain. Plans for a railroad tunnel dated to the second half of the 1830s, but work did not commence until 1848 with work completed two years later. The new tunnel was instrumental in Atlanta’s growth as a railroad hub and was a strategic feature for the Confederacy to protect during the Civil War.

The tunnel’s strategic importance led to a series of skirmishes being fought here leading up to the Battle of Atlanta. Following the war, the tunnel remained in service until 1928 when a new tunnel was built a few yards away. The old tunnel became overgrown with kudzu and was largely forgotten until 1992 when preservationists fought to save the tunnel. It is now the centerpiece of a park that features reenactments of the skirmishes fought at the site.

Entrance to the old Western & Atlantic Railroad Tunnel, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV, All rights reserved.

It is often re-enactors who have encountered anything supernatural at the site. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the number of documented accounts of spirits at Tunnel Hill. At least four books and a handful of good articles document the high levels of activity at this site. Accounts include the apparitions of soldiers seen both inside the tunnel and around it. Ghostly campfires, disembodied screams, spectral lantern light and the smell of rotting flesh (minus the presence of actual rotting flesh) have all been reported by re-enactors and visitors alike.

Sources

  • DeFeo, Todd. “Antebellum railroad tunnel still a marvel after all These years.” com. 22 June 2009.
  • Kotarski, Georgiana C. Ghosts of the Southern Tennessee Valley. Winston-Salem, NC: John F. Blair, 2006.
  • Underwood, Corinna. Haunted History: Atlanta and North Georgia. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 2008.
  • Western and Atlantic Railroad Tunnel. Tunnel Hill Heritage Center. Accessed 28 November 2010.

Old Talbott Tavern
107 West Stephen Foster Avenue
Bardstown, Kentucky

Old Talbott Tavern, 2008, by C. Bedford Crenshaw. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Continuously open since the late 18th century except for a period in the late 1990s when the tavern was being renovated following a disastrous fire, the Old Talbott Tavern has hosted an impressive array of visitors ranging from Daniel Boone to General George Patton. Perhaps one of the famous guests who has never checked out is outlaw Jesse James who stayed frequently in the tavern while visiting his cousin who was the local sheriff. With the claims of Jesse James’ spirit which may also roam the halls of Selma, Alabama’s St. James Hotel, James’ spirit may split the hereafter between two favorite locales. But James’ spirit is not the only spirit acting up in the Old Talbott Tavern. Other ghosts may include formers guests, owners and their families.

Sources

  • Brown, Alan. Haunted Kentucky. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2009.
  • Brown, Alan. Stories from the Haunted South. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2004.
  • Starr, Patti. Ghosthunting Kentucky. Cincinnati, OH, Clerisy Press, 2010.

Old Louisiana State Capitol
100 North Boulevard
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

When the state capitol was moved from New Orleans to Baton Rouge in 1846, the city donated land atop a bluff over the Mississippi for the capitol building. Architect James Dakin designed a Neo-Gothic building very much unlike the other state capitols which were often modeled on the U.S. Capitol building in Washington. The magnificent crenellated and be-towered structure was used as a prison and garrison for soldiers under the city’s Union occupation and during this time it caught fire twice leaving it a soot-stained shell by the war’s end. The building was reconstructed in 1882 but abandoned in 1932 for Governor Huey Long’s new state capitol.

Old State Capitol, 2009, by Avazina. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Even before the capitol burned during the war, there was a ghost gliding through its halls. Pierre Couvillon, a legislator representing Avoyelles Parish, enraged by his colleagues’ corruption, suffered a heart attack and died. Though he was buried in his home parish, his spirit was said to reside in the capitol; perhaps checking up on his colleagues. When the capitol building underwent restoration in the 1990s, the spirit or spirits in the building were stirred up and activity has increased. Staff members and visitors have reported odd occurrences. One security guard watched as movement detectors were set off through a series of rooms while nothing was seen on the video.

Two organizations investigated the building in 2009 and uncovered much evidence. Louisiana Spirits Paranormal Investigations picked up a number of interesting EVPs including someone singing the old song, “You Are My Sunshine.” Everyday Paranormal, in their investigation had a few encounters in the basement of the building, the area used as a prison during the Union occupation. It seems that there are many spirits within the crenellated walls of the Old Capitol.

Sources

  • Duvernay, Adam. “Several Baton Rouge sites said to be haunted.” The Daily Reveille. 27 October 2009.
  • Dwyer, Jeff. Ghost Hunter’s Guide to New Orleans. Gretna, LA: Pelican, 2007.
  • Louisiana Spirits Paranormal Investigations. Old State Capitol, Baton Rouge, LA. Accessed 11 November 2011.
  • Manley, Roger. Weird Louisiana. NYC: Sterling Publishers, 2010.
  • Old Louisiana State Capitol. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 9 November 2011.
  • Southeastern Students. “Old State Capitol Still Occupied by Former Ghosts.” com. 29 October 2009.

Jericho Covered Bridge
Jericho Road at Little Gunpowder Falls
Harford County Near Jerusalem, Maryland

Jericho Covered Bridge, 2009, by Pubdog. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Straddling the county line between Harford County and Baltimore County over the Little Gunpowder Falls is the Jericho Covered Bridge, constructed in 1865. According to Ed Okonowicz in his Haunted Maryland, there are legends of people seeing slaves hanging from the rafters inside this nearly 88-foot bridge. Certainly, there is an issue with this as the bridge was constructed in 1865, after the end of both slavery and the Civil War. Other, more realistic legends, speak of a woman seen on the bridge wearing old-fashioned clothing and people having their cars stop inexplicably in the middle of the bridge.

Sources

  • Jericho Covered Bridge. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 20 January 2011.
  • Ed. Haunted Maryland. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2007.
  • Varhola, Michael J. and Michael H. Varhola. Ghosthunting Maryland. Cincinnati, OH: Clerisy Press, 2009.

Corinth Battlefield
Corinth, Mississippi

Following the Confederate’s disastrous attack in April of 1862 on the Union forces at Shiloh, Tennessee (for a battle description see my entry on the Beauregard-Keyes House in New Orleans), the Union army laid siege for two days to the vital railroad town of Corinth, just over the state line. To save his army from annihilation, General P.T.G. Beauregard gave the appearance of reinforcement troops arriving and being put in place while efficiently moving his troops out of the city to nearby Tupelo. The Union army entered the city the following day to find it devoid of Confederates. In October of the same year, Confederates tried once again and failed to capture the city losing some 4,000 men (including dead, wounded and missing) in the process.

The railroad junction at the heart of Corinth. Photo 2013, by Ron Cogswell. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

The battlefield on which these two battles were fought is now incorporated into the mid-sized city of Corinth. Portions of the battlefield and earthworks are now preserved as the Corinth unit of Shiloh National Military Park. As one might expect, some of those portions have spiritual artifacts remaining. Some of the best stories from Civil War battlefields come from re-enactors who have experiences while re-enacting battles and one of the primary reports of ghosts from the Corinth battlefield comes from a re-enactor whose story was documented by Alan Brown. This particular re-enactor heard the sound of a phantom cavalry and a few nights later, the sound of someone rummaging through her tent while camping on the battlefield.

Sources

  • Brown, Alan. Stories from the Haunted Southland. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2004.
  • Second Battle of Corinth. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 27 January 2011.
  • Siege of Corinth. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 27 January 2011.

North Carolina Zoological Park
4401 Zoo Parkway
Asheboro, North Carolina

North Carolina lawyer and folklorist Daniel Barefoot has done much to preserve North Carolina and Southern legends and ghost stories in his books. His series, North Carolina’s Haunted Hundred provides a single ghost story or legend from each of the state’s one hundred counties. From Randolph County, smack dab in the middle of the state, comes the legend of the aptly named, Purgatory Mountain, now home to the NC Zoo. The state-owned zoo is the largest walk-through habitat zoos in the world and a major attraction in the region.

NC Zoo sign, 2010, by Eleazar. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

During the Civil War, much of rural North Carolina was resistant to seceding from the Union and, as a result, the state was the final state to secede. Still, many citizens, including the peaceable Quakers of Randolph County resisted joining the butternut ranks. Recruiters were sent to these areas to nudge and sometimes force the inhabitants to join. One particular recruiter in this area earned the nickname, “The Hunter,” for his harsh methods.  He rounded up a group of Quaker boys, tied them roughly and marched them to Wilmington to join the army, but a few escaped and returned, bedraggled to their rural homes. When the recruiter returned, this group of escaped boys shot him outside of his cabin at Purgatory Mountain. His malevolent spirit is still supposedly stalking the crags of his mountain home.

Sources

  • Barefoot, Daniel W. North Carolina’s Haunted Hundred, Vol. 2: Piedmont Phantoms. Winston-Salem, NC, John F. Blair, 2002.
  • North Carolina Zoo. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 11 April 2012.

Carter House
1140 Columbia Avenue
Franklin, Tennessee

By some accounts, the Battle of Franklin, November 30, 1864, was one of the bloodiest battles of the war. Some historians have even deemed it the “Gettysburg of the South.” Fought right on the edge of the town of Franklin, the battle hit very close to the home front and absolutely hammered the farm of the Carter family which was located at the center of the main defensive line. During the furious fighting, the Carters, neighbors and slaves cowered in the basement of the house, emerging after the battle to witness the carnage spread through their yard and around their house. The house and outbuildings still bear bullet holes, attesting to their experience.

Fanny Courtney Carter, who was 8 years old when the battle overtook her family’s farm, later recalled the day following the battle: “Early the next morning after the Battle I went to the field. The sight was dreadful. It seemed I could scarcely move for fear of stepping on men either dead or wounded. Some were clod and stiff, others with the lifeblood ebbing out, unconscious of all around, while others were writing in agony and calling ‘Water! Water!’ I can hear them even now.” Fanny’s brother, Tod, who had enlisted in the Confederate army was found some yards from the house, his body riddled with eight bullets, but still clinging to life. The family brought him into the parlor of his home where he died on December 2.

Carter House by Hal Jesperson, 2009. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

The pastoral fields that once surrounded the Carter House as well as the town of Franklin that saw so much blood that November day have mostly been lost to development though the spiritual imprint of the battle is still felt throughout the city. The spirit of Tod Carter may be one of the more active spirits at the Carter House. He has been seen sitting on the edge of the bed where he may have died and according to Alan Brown, he took a tour of the house, correcting the tour guide when she didn’t use the correct name or date and disappearing before he and the guide could descend to the basement.

Apparently he’s not the only lingering spirit. Poltergeist activity in the house has been attributed to Tod’s sister, Annie. Objects have moved from room to room and one visitor on a tour watched a figurine that jumped up and down.

Sources

  • Battle of Franklin (2009). Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 13 December 2010.
  • Brown, Alan. Haunted Tennessee: Ghosts and Strange Phenomena Of the Volunteer State. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole, 2009.
  • O’Rear, Jim. Tennessee Ghosts. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 2009.

Rockledge Mansion
440 Mill Street
Occoquan, Virginia

The town website for Occoquan (pronounced OK-oh-qwahn), Virginia states that the city, “has an inordinate amount of spooks per capita” and then goes on to list a number of locations in the town with ghosts. Among this remarkable collection of haunted locations is the magnificent Georgian mansion, Rockledge, which commands a literal rock ledge above Mill Street. The town was founded in the mid-eighteenth century as a port on the Occoquan River and during the Civil War this northern Virginia town served as a post office between the North and the South.

Rockledge Mansion by AlbertHerring, 2008. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Quite possibly the work of colonial architect, William Buckland, Rockledge was built in 1758 by local industrialist John Ballandine. In the yard of this house the ghost of a Confederate soldier has been seen and possibly heard. One witness saw the soldier then noticed peculiar wet footprints on the front steps that appeared to be from hobnail boots, the kind that would have been worn by soldiers during the war. Many people have heard loud footsteps in the house as well as someone knocking at the door. So far, no source has identified this soldier.

Sources 

  • Occoquan History. com. Accessed 16 November 2010.
  • Occoquan, Virginia. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 13 December 2010.
  • Streng, Aileen. “Benevolent ghost believed to haunt mansion.” com. 27 October 2010.
  • Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission. National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form for Rockledge Mansion. Listed 25 June 1973.

Berkeley Castle
WV-9
Berkeley Springs

Berkeley Castle by Jeanne Mozier. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Berkeley Springs, also known as “Bath,” has attracted visitors who come to take the waters of the mineral springs located there. Overlooking this quaint town from a commanding position on Warm Spring Mountain sits Berkeley Castle, seemingly a piece of medieval Britain transplanted. Modeled and named after Britain’s own Berkeley Castle, the castle was built as a wedding gift from Colonel Samuel Suit for his bride, Rosa Pelham. The Colonel, who was quite a bit older than his bride, died before the castle was finished and his widow finished the building. She lived in the castle after his death and squandered the fortune she inherited and died penniless well away from the castle, but legends speak of her return.

The castle was purchased by paranormal investigators in 2000 but sold fairly shortly after that. Once open for tours, the castle is now primarily a private residence, though it may be rented for weddings, parties and other events.

Sources

  • Fischer, Karin. “Castle in Eastern Panhandle could be in need of a new lord this spring.” Charleston (WV) Daily Mail. 21 November 2000.
  • History Berkeley Castle. Berkeley Castle. Accessed 19 March 2011.
  • Robinson, James Foster. A Ghostly Guide to West Virginia. Winking Eye Books, 2008.

“A theatre of mental travail”—New Orleans

…for I doubt if there is another building in the while South that has been the theatre of more mental travail. Do you remember Hugo’s ‘Last Days of a Condemned Man?’ That horrible drama has been enacted over and over again inside its walls. And think of the desperate men who have taken their lives in its cells, and the other desperate men who have lain awake at night plotting escape. The old place has held the concentrated essence of every human emotion—hope, fear, rage, grief, remorse.

 — “By the By!” The Times-Democrat 23 October 1899

The Ninth Precinct Prison once humbly squatted behind the Greek Revival magnificence of the CARROLLTON COURTHOUSE (719 South Carrollton Avenue). Originally the seat of justice for Carrollton while it was a part of Jefferson Parish, the courthouse and jail were designed by Henry Howard, a noted New Orleans architect, and constructed in 1855. When the burgeoning city of New Orleans absorbed Carrollton in 1874 the courthouse was transformed into a school while the jail remained open just steps from studious children, staffed by officers from the New Orleans Police Department.

After complaints from worried parents, the ancient jail was torn down in 1937 while the courthouse building remained an elementary school until the 1950s when it became Benjamin Franklin Senior High School. The high school had outgrown the old courthouse building by the late 1980s and a new building was constructed for the high school. The courthouse again became an elementary school and was in use until 2013. The courthouse building has been abandoned since that time and was listed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation to its list of 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.

Old Carrollton Courthouse from W.H. Parish’s Art Work of New Orleans, 1895.

At the back of the old courthouse building where the jail once stood is now occupied by school trailers with no sign to indicate the inhumane building that once occupied that space. In this place criminals were locked away in dank cells some spending their last days here before they transcended this plane in the execution yard. It’s no wonder that stories began to pour forth from this building towards the end of the 19th century telling of spectral experiences and uncanny events. The Times-Democrat devoted a little more than two columns of space to the experiences of the “peculiarly level-headed and unimaginative” officers working there:

“I can tell what has happened easily enough,” said Sergeant Clifton, “but explain it, I can’t. I have been on duty here about a year and a half, and we have been bothered off and on, from the start by strange noises, things falling without apparent cause, and other unaccountable disturbances. Lately they have grown worse. Here in my office our attention was first attracted to that old sofa in the corner. Frequently at night one of the men would lie down on it to rest, and invariably something queer would happen. Sometimes the man would be thrown off violently, sometimes he would feel hands touching him, and several times the sofa would be moved bodily several feet from the wall. Strangers here have had the same experience. We have never been able to find any clew [sic] to the cause. Some weeks ago I was sitting one evening at my desk reading, when suddenly my chair was whirled entirely around. I was quite alone and several lights were burning brightly in the room. I was simply dumfounded, and all I can do now is to give you the facts. As I said before, the explanation is beyond me.

“A few nights later, I was talking to Corporal Perez, when a large picture of Gen. Beauregard, hanging on the wall above the washstand, came crashing down, and at the same instant, the stand itself, bowl and pitcher, were apparently hurled forward and struck the floor several feet away. Strange to say, nothing was broken, and oddest of all, the cord of the picture was intact and the nail on which it hung was as firm as ever. We had been talking about Beauregard during the evening and the coincidence startled us greatly. Next night the mirror, below where the picture had been, fell in exactly the same manner. That time the washbowl was broken. I have since placed the picture and looking glass elsewhere, and they have not been molested any further. These things occurred right before our eyes, under the glare of the electric light.

“One evening last week,” he went on, “two gentlemen and a lady dropped in to pay me a visit. While the men were sitting on the sofa talking, the lady arose and leaned against the wall. A moment afterward she staggered forward, crying out that some one had given her a violent push. We were all astonished, and in explaining to us what happened she again leaned against the wall and again bounded away exactly as if she had received a sudden thrust against the shoulders. She was greatly excited and alarmed, and it was some time before we could quiet her. There is the large bare brick wall; you can see for yourself how impossible it was for any trick to have been played. The lady had never heard of the ghosts.”

The most remarkable story of all is told by the head doorman, C.W. Foster. Officer Foster is a man of middle age, quiet, well educated and intelligent. He has been on duty at the jail about eight months.

“I heard all sorts of strange noises frequently,” he said, “and more than once searched the place from top to bottom trying to discover what caused them. But the first time I actually saw anything was one afternoon last July. The sergeant had stepped out, and I was occupied with something in the clerk’s office on the other side of the passage. The doors are on a line, and I could see through in the opposite room. Presently I looked up and was astonished to see two women standing by Sergeant Clifton’s desk. They were holding themselves very erect, looking straight toward me, and their stiff, unnatural attitude struck me as strange. Still I thought they were merely visitors, who had slipped in without my noticing them. They were young and both wore dresses of some sort of spotted stuff. They impressed me as being very light-skinned negresses.

“I got up, never taking my eyes from the pair, and started across the passage. Just as I was entering the other room both figures vanished. It was so sudden, so absolutely inexplicable, that I couldn’t believe my senses, and stood here for a moment literally paralyzed with amazement. The sun was shining brightly, the room was perfectly light and I was never in better health. It was hard for me to believe the appearance was an hallucination, yet there was no way in the world for the women to have left the room, for there was only one door, in which I stood. I never saw the women before or afterward.

Old Carrollton Jail, c. 1900.

“My next experience was even more startling. It was in the evening, and, as before, the sergeant’s room was temporarily vacant, while I was engaged in the clerk’s office. Lights were burning everywhere, and several men were in the building. When I got through my work in the office I stepped into the passage and happening to glace into the other room, I saw Sergeant Shoemaker, who died a year ago last July, standing between the desk and the sofa. I knew Shoemaker intimately for years, and there is absolutely no possibility of my being mistaken. He had charge of this jail up to the time of his death. The figure I saw was perfectly distinct and solid, and was in the full light of an incandescent lamp. His head was slightly bent, as if he was in a brown study, and he was walking slowly toward the sofa. While I stood there staring at him he vanished precisely as the two women had vanished. It was like snuffing out a candle—one instant he was there and the next instant he was gone.

“I admit frankly that I was frightened,” continued Officer Foster. “I never received such a shock in my life, but I forced myself somehow to go into the room. It was perfectly empty. I have seen nothing since, but hardly a day or night passes without noises and other manifestations. We have about ceased to pay attention to them.”

Mr. Joseph Crowley, the night clerk and operator, has had his full share of uncanny experience. When he was assigned to duty at the precinct he made a good deal of sport of the current ghost stories, but he soon witnessed enough to thoroughly puzzle him. One night last month, as he tells the story, he was at his desk writing, when something prompted him to look up, and he saw a tall, dark-bearded stranger standing outside the railed inclosure [sic]. The man look ill and thin, and was dressed in black. Mr. Crowley was about to inquire his business when the stranger glided away toward the door. Remembering the ghost stories, and sure that a trick was being played, he sprang through the gate and rushed towards the figure, which disappeared in the hall. He was only two steps behind, but the hall was empty. There was no egress except past the doorman, who was on duty, and not one of the several officers on the floors had seen a soul. They made an instant and thorough search of the building, but could find no trace of the mysterious visitor. He had vanished like a feat in conjuring.

A few nights afterward Clerk Crowley was again in the office, talking with Patrolman Edward Harrison and George Shafe, when the pale, bearded stranger suddenly appeared in the door. That time he was seen by all three of the men at about the same instant, and they rushed toward him with one accord. Exactly what happened they have some difficulty in explaining. As before, the strange man glided backward into the hall, passed into a little patch of shadow and that was the last of him. They ran over the very spot where he had been, questioned the doorkeeper, ransacked the building and searched the garden with lights from one end to the other, but all in vain.

Officer Harrison is a very practical, common sense type of man. He is perhaps fifty years old, but still active, and is tall and strongly built. He has a stern, aquiline face, and talks briefly and to the point.

“I don’t believe in ghosts,” he said yesterday. “That’s all nonsense, and there must be some explanation for these things. Still I don’t know what it is, and the best I can do is to state exactly what I witnessed. I saw the man with a beard. He simply appeared and disappeared, and where he went to I have no idea. It was the quickest thing I ever looked at. We made a very thorough search, and I’m certain he was not hidden about the house. I never saw the man before, but his face was very peculiar, and I would know it in a thousand. Yes, I have heard noises and footsteps—frequently. What causes them is a mystery. We’ve tried out best to find out, but have so far failed. All the same I don’t believe in ghosts.”

Mr. Crowley not only saw the phantoms, but felt them. He states that he was seated at his desk on another occasion when something that seemed like a cold hand gripped him by the neck. For an instant he was too startled to move, but at the first struggle he was released and whirling around found himself alone. The clock stood exactly at 3 a.m.

The sound of heavy footsteps in the hall and corridor has been heard at different times by nearly all the officers about the building. In conversation yesterday Corporal Harry Hyatt described that particular manifestation.

“I have heard it twice,” he said. “It sounded exactly as if some powerful man had entered the front door and walked as far as the office. On both occasions I ran out immediately and no one was there. The footfalls were as distinct as anything I ever heard in my life.”

Sometimes the sound of walking comes from the courtroom up stairs, where there was formerly a row of four “condemned cells,” used for confining prisoners under sentence of death. One night, when the noises from that quarter were particularly loud, several officers went up to investigate and were amazed to see the heavy docket fly through the air from the judge’s desk. It struck the floor with a crash audible all over the building, but what propelled it they were never able to find out. One of those who had an experience with the sofa, which seems to be the storm centre [sic], so to speak, of the sergeant’s room, was Driver Dell of the patrol wagon. He went in to get a bit of rest, and had no sooner stretched himself out then the sofa moved from the wall fully a yard and then moved back again. The motion was gentle, as if the legs were on well-oiled wheels, but the startled driver did not tarry from another ride. He sprang to his feet and sought his rest in another part of the building.

Many of the manifestations reported about the old building are perfectly meaningless and grotesque, and paradoxical as it may seem, they derive a certain impressiveness from that very fact. The theory of trickery presupposes more or less of a coherent plan, and it is hard to associate it with things that have no apparent purpose. For example, mounted officer Jules Aucoin went to the sergeant’s room at about 11 o’clock last Wednesday night to make a report. Glued to the wall above the fireplace is a large colored lithograph of Admiral Dewey, and as Aucoin entered he was surprised beyond measure to see the picture seemingly turning round and round like a wheel. He called to some of the others, but before they could get there the lithograph was still again. Many kindred stories are told. In one corner of the clerk’s office is a small ledge on which several books are kept. Lying on them were two large weights, such as are used by grocers. A few nights ago the weights described a curve through space and came crashing down on the floor. Several officers witnessed the occurrence, but nobody is able to offer any explanation. Now and then different articles of furniture act as if they are bewitched, tumbling about, shifting their places and echoing to invisible blows. Everybody in the station has been under suspicion as a practical joker, but nowadays that theory has been pretty thoroughly abandoned.

One night last week, a colored man named Charles Marquez was arrested on a capias issued by Judge Duggan on the charge of contempt of court and locked until morning in cell No. 3. When the doorman came to release him, he was a pitiable object. He was shaking with fright and declared that he had been tormented all night long by things he could not see. Viewless hands hauled him about the floor, snatched away his blankets whenever he spread them to lie down, and kept up and incessant rattling at his lock. A score or more of times he felt cold fingers drawn across his face, and from the patter of footfalls in the dark, he could have sworn he had a dozen companions. Such was the man’s story. He was unusually intelligent, and however he may have embroidered the narrative, there was no gainsaying the fact that he was half dead with terror. Something had certainly played havoc with his rest.

Cell 3, by the way, has an evil name. There is no particular legend connected with it, but most of the mysterious noises in that end of the building seem to have their origin there, and many other prisoners have reported experiences more or less resembling that of Marquez.

The author of the article ends by noting that the reports from the jail should be further investigated by the Society of Psychical Research out of London. The author was so insistent of this that in an article published in the same paper two days later, he (I’m assuming this is the same author, though bylines in papers were not common at that time) recounts a conversation about the case and a discussion of the Society’s investigation techniques.

As for the activity at the old jail, a few other sources state that a vague figure was seen as the building was torn down in 1937. The blog Seeks Ghosts notes that a strange figure is still seen in the area of the building.

Sources

  • “By the By!” The Times Democrat. 23 October 1899.
  • Carrollton Courthouse. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 26 November 2016.
  • Lamkin, Virginia. “New Orleans: The Haunted Carrollton Jail.” Seeks Ghosts. 29 May 2015.
  • “Real Ghost Story.” The Times Democrat. 21 October 1899.
  • Taylor, Troy. Haunted New Orleans. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2010.

Phantoms of the French Quarter–New Orleans, Louisiana

The French Quarter has been lived in and died in; human energy has been manifested continuously and freely for 250 years. Where we find presently a sedate restaurant, we would have found—20 years ago, 50 years ago, 100 years ago or more—a dry goods store, a grocery, a saloon, a coffeehouse, a patisserie, an apothecary, a gambling joint, a silversmith, a printer, a jeweler, a letter-writer, a whorehouse, a bank. They may have disappeared along with their proprietors, but they’ve left behind an aura that infuses the atmosphere.

–Andy Peter Antippas, A Guide to the Historic French Quarter (History & Guide). 2013.

New Orleans’ French Quarter—the Vieux Carré to locals—is among a handful of locales in the South that possesses a high concentration of haunted places. Encompassing nearly two-thirds of a square mile (.66 to be exact), the French Quarter has been said to have spirits in nearly every building and site. Even looking at the documented hauntings here, the number is quite impressive.

The French Quarter is generally defined as the section stretching from Canal Street to Esplanade Avenue and from the Mississippi River northwest to North Rampart Street. This section of the city is where the city was originally founded by the French in 1718. With buildings and sites spanning three centuries, the French Quarter is easily the most paranormally active neighborhood in the entire city.

This series of articles is meant to act as a street by street guide to those hauntings. While some of these stories have gained quite a bit of notoriety in the literature, like Royal Street’s LaLaurie Mansion, and Bourbon Street’s Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, some stories have only been explored in the literature once or twice. This is an attempt to synthesize information from the many sources that exist on the French Quarter into a succinct guide.

For more haunted places in the French Quarter visit the main page for my series, “Phantoms of the French Quarter.”

Sources

  • Antippas, Andy Peter. A Guide to the Historic French Quarter (History & Guide). Charleston SC, Arcadia Publishing, 2013. Kindle Edition.
Jackson Square French Quarter New Orleans ghosts haunted street by street guide
Jackson Square, bounded by Decatur, Chartres, St. Peter, and St. Ann Streets. Behind the statue is St. Louis Cathedral with The Cabildo on the left and the Presbytere on the right. All three buildings are haunted. See the entry for Chartres Street for further information. Photo by Sammi99tr, 2009, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Street Guide to the Phantoms of the French Quarter

N.B. The streets that are not linked do not yet have guides. Check back here soon for those guides to be created.

Basin Street

Bienville Street

Bourbon Street

Burgundy Street

Chartres Street

Conti Street

Dauphine Street

Decatur Street

Dumaine Street

Esplanade Avenue

Iberville Avenue

North Rampart Street

Orleans Street

Pere Antoine’s Alley

Pirate Alley

Royal Street

St. Ann Street

St. Louis Street

St. Peter Street

St. Philip Street

Toulouse Street

Ursulines Avenue

Wilkinson Street

 

Phantoms of the French Quarter—Bourbon and Dauphine Streets

Named for the House of Bourbon, the ruling family of France in the 18th century, Bourbon Street has earned a reputation as the place to party in The Big Easy. Originally it was one of the premier addresses in the city. Dauphine Street is presumably named in honor of the Dauphin of France, the heir apparent to the French throne.

Bourbon Street

Lafitte Guest House
1003 Bourbon Street

Housed in an old mansion overlooking Bourbon Street and the historic and haunted Lafitte Blacksmith Shop across the street, the Lafitte Guest House is home to a handful of spirits. Some years ago, the inn’s owners were planning on going on a cruise. As they discussed the plans for the cruise, soot blew down the chimney of the room where they sat and spelled out the words “No Voyage” on the floor.

The spirit of a little girl has been seen by guests in the mirror of the second floor balcony. Guests will look at themselves in the mirror and see a little girl crying behind them. She may be the young daughter of the Gleises family who resided here in the mid-19th century. It is believed that she died during one of the many yellow fever epidemics that swept through New Orleans in the 1850s. The spirit of an anguished woman is believed to be the spirit of this little girl’s mother.

Sources

  • Kermeen, Frances. Ghostly Encounters: True Stories of America’s Haunted Inn and Hotels. NYC: Warner Books, 2002.
  • Sillery, Barbara. The Haunting of Louisiana. Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing, 2001.
  • Turnage, Sheila. Haunted Inns of the Southeast. Winston-Salem, NC: John F. Blair, 2001.

Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop
941 Bourbon Street

See my coverage of Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop in “Encounter with a Gentleman—New Orleans.”

Cafe Lafitte in Exile
901 Bourbon Street

Opened in 1933, at the end of Prohibition, the Café Lafitte in Exile is now known as the oldest continuously operating gay bar in the United States. Two of the café’s most famous patrons, writers Tennessee Williams and Truman Capote, are believed to revisit this, one of their favorite haunts. While neither writer died in New Orleans, they have been seen within the walls of the café. Ken Summers notes that another, rather frisky spirit, known as Mister Bubbles, is known to pinch some patrons on their posteriors.

Sources

  • Richardson, Joy. “New Orleans’ Café Lafitte Haunted by Two Literary Greats.” com. 12 July 2010.
  • Summer, Ken. Queer Hauntings: True Tales of Gay and Lesbian Ghosts. Maple Shade, NJ: Lethe Press, 2009.

Bourbon Pub
801 Bourbon Street

The Bourbon Pub and Parade is the largest gay bar in New Orleans and one of the premier sites for partying during the annual Southern Decadence, a six day gay and lesbian festival held over Memorial Day weekend. Patrons here have seen, heard, and occasionally felt spirits throughout the bar area. Some patrons have been surprised by the hollow sound of a thud accompanied by the inexplicable sensation of a cane hitting the bottom of their shoe.

Sources

  • Summer, Ken. Queer Hauntings: True Tales of Gay and Lesbian Ghosts. Maple Shade, NJ: Lethe Press, 2009.

Bourbon Heat (Tricou House)
711 Bourbon Street

A young woman who died in a fall on the stairs here is supposed to remain in this nightclub. Built in 1832 by Dr. Joseph Tricou, the doctor niece Penelope lost her footing on the stairs and tumbled to her death. Staff and patrons have heard disembodied footsteps throughout the building. A statue in the club’s courtyard is also said to move on its own volition.

Sources

  • Klein, Victor C. New Orleans Ghosts. Chapel Hill, NC: Professional Press, 1993.
  • Smith, Katherine. Journey Into Darkness: Ghosts and Vampires of New Orleans. New Orleans, LA: De Simonin Publications, 1998.
The carriageway at the Tricou House, now Bourbon Heat nightclub. Photo by Frances Johnston, 1937, courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and
Photographs Division.

OLD ABSINTHE HOUSE (240 Bourbon Street) Jean Lafitte, the famous pirate who spent much time in this city, is believed to be the dashing apparition seen here. Originally built in the early 19th century, this building served as a warehouse and may have likely been frequented by this notorious pirate.

Sources

Taylor, Troy. Haunted New Orleans. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2010.

The Old Absinthe House, 1937, by Frances Johnston. Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Dauphine Street

Dauphine Orleans Hotel
415 Dauphine Street

Made up of a number of buildings with varying histories, the Dauphine Orleans Hotel has a wide variety of spirits haunting its corridors. The hotel includes the Audubon Cottage where naturalist John James Audubon painted his famous Birds of America series in the 1830s. In around the cottage a Civil War soldier has been spotted. The hotel bar, May Baily’s Place, occupies a former bordello and spiritual ladies of the evening still ply their trade in and around this area.

Sources

  • Brown, Alan. The Haunted South. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2014.
  • “The Dauphine Hotel is really haunted.” WGNO. 30 October 2015.

Dauphine House Bed & Breakfast
1830 Dauphine Street

This small inn, built in 1860, hosts several spirits. Just after the owner purchased the home she glanced a couple on the stairs, “they wore clothes from the end of the 1800s…they were standing there smiling.” She thanked them for their home and explained that she would take care of the house and the couple disappeared. A guest at the inn who was distraught over a breakup reportedly encountered the couple a few times during her visit and felt they were attempting to comfort her.

Sources

  • “Haunts of the Dauphine House.” Ghost Eyes Blog. 15 January 2010.
  • Smith, Terry L. and Mark Jean. Haunted Inns of America. Crane Hill Publishers, 2003.
  • Turnage, Sheila. Haunted Inns of the Southeast. Winston-Salem, NC: John F. Blair, 2001.

Phantoms of the French Quarter—Royal Street

Hotel Monteleone
214 Royal Street

This imposing hotel is the tallest building in the French Quarter and, at 600 rooms, among the largest. This building is a physical, literary, and paranormal landmark within the Quarter. When a lowly Sicilian cobbler, Antonio Monteleone, purchased a hotel in 1886, he probably did not imagine that it would be the beginning of a classic American rags-to-riches story. His hard work paid off and he acquired neighboring buildings and expanded his hotel. Since it opened its doors the hotel has attracted celebrities including numerous well-known writers who have mentioned the hotel in their works.

Hotel Monteleone, 2009 by Bart Everson, courtesy of Wikipedia.

One of the more well-known features of the Monteleone is the Carousel Bar featuring an actual carousel that was assembled in the bar in 1949 and rotates slowly as patrons enjoy craft cocktails. While patrons revolve at the bar, spirits revolve around patrons and staff throughout the hotel. Spirits here range from a trusty engineer to a little boy who supposedly died of a fever while his parents were out. Others include the spirits of a few people who committed suicide by jumping from the roof. The International Society of Paranormal Research investigated the hotel in 2003 and concluded that there are 12 individual entities patrolling the halls and corridors of this hotel.

Sources

  • Caskey, James. The Haunted History of New Orleans: Ghosts of the French Quarter. Savannah, GA: Manta Ray Books, 2013.
  • History.” Hotel Monteleone. Accessed 7 June 2016.
  • Hudson, Shaney. “The Big Easy’s his haunt.” The Age (Melbourne, Australia). 27 February 2012.
  • Mroch, Courtney. “Why Hotel Monteleone’s Haunted 14th Floor Isn’t What it Seems.” Haunt Jaunts. 25 March 2011.

Cafe Beignet
334 Royal Street

The spirit of a Native American woman is occasionally seen strolling through this restaurant that occupies an old carriage house. Most likely she remains here from the time prior to the city’s existence. She is most often seen towards closing time.

Sources

  • Dwyer, Jeff. Ghost Hunters Guide to New Orleans. Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing, 2007.
  • Muro, Maria. “Haunted Eats.” New Orleans Living Magazine. 9 October 2012.

Louisiana Supreme Court Building
400 Royal Street

This monstrous white marble-clad building caused much controversy when the site was cleared starting in 1903. This block was originally a collection of 19th century buildings bisected by Exchange Alley which was lined with offices for architects, engineers, politicians and lawyers. The destruction that took place here contributed to the rise of preservation policies throughout the city. Upon completion of this building in 1910, the Louisiana Supreme Court, state Attorney General, and other courts moved in, though by 1934, the building was deemed inadequate. After years of deferred maintenance, the Supreme Court moved out in 1958. The building saw renovations starting in the 1990s and reopened in 2004 with the state Supreme Court returning to the building.

Rumors of the building being haunted began to arise during the building’s renovations. Author and researcher Victor C. Klein interviewed a construction supervisor and several workers and contractors who told similar tales of tools and equipment disappearing in the building. A number of them also encountered “a well dressed, middle age, white gentleman” whom they found looking out a window in the upper stories of the building. When confronted, the odd gentleman would disappear.

Louisiana Supreme Court Building, 2015 by MusikAnimal, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Klein continues by noting that guests of the Omni Royal Orleans Hotel on nearby St. Louis Street would report this man to the front desk staring intensely into their rooms. According to Klein, this was so frequent that the front desk had a scripted response to these calls, though they didn’t inform the guests that this gentleman is probably a ghost.

Jeff Dwyer remarks on several other spirits within the building including a pair of shooting victims who were supposedly gunned down in a courtroom during a Mafia trial in the 1930s and a panhandler who is sometimes seen just outside the building on Royal Street.

Sources

Brennan’s
417 Royal Street

One of the more well-known and respected restaurants in the city, Brennan’s has made its home in this historic building since it opened in 1946. This 1795 structure once housed the Bank of Louisiana. Later on in the 19th century, Paul Morphy, one of the most famous chess players in the world lived and died here. He may be the apparition that is sometimes seen in the dining room.

Sources

  • Dwyer, Jeff. Ghost Hunters Guide to New Orleans. Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing, 2007.
  • Taylor, Troy. Haunted New Orleans. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2010.
Brennan’s, 2015 by Infrogmation, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Court of the Two Sisters
613 Royal Street

One of the more romantic of New Orleans’ great restaurants, the Court of the Two Sisters possesses a number of legends including one about the gates through which patrons pass. The wrought iron gates are supposed to have been made in Spain where they were blessed by Queen Isabella with a charm that all those who touch them as they pass will be charmed. The restaurant occupies an 1832 building that housed a shop owned by two sisters, Bertha and Emma Camours. Apparently inseparable, the sisters operated a notions shop in this building for many years and, not being able to live without the other, died in 1944 two months apart.

The courtyard of this grand restaurant has a wishing well known as the “Devil’s Wishing Well” as it may have witnessed and been charmed by rites practiced here by Marie Laveau, the city’s great 19th century Queen of Voodoo. Until it was toppled by Hurricane Betsy in 1965, a willow tree grew here where pirate Jean Lafitte may have dueled with and killed three men. Those three men may be among the specters flitting throughout this courtyard. Enjoy one of the famous Jazz Brunches served here daily and be sure to pay homage to the sisters who may still be holding court.

Sources

  • Dwyer, Jeff. Ghost Hunters Guide to New Orleans. Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing, 2007.
  • Our History.” Court of the Two Sisters. Accessed 8 June 2016.

LaBranch Building
700 Royal Street

The delicate lacy ironwork of this large home hides one of crueler ghost stories in this city. In the early history of the city a system of plaçage was practiced by many of the wealthy white planters. This system, found in Spanish and French colonies, allowed these wealthy men to take on mistresses, often free women of color, whom they would support. Certainly such arrangements caused conflicts within the legal marriages of these men. Such a conflict is at the heart of the story here.

Upon the death Jean Baptiste LaBranche, who owned this home at one time, his wife, Marie, was able to find out the name of his mistress. She sent an invitation to the young woman inviting her to tea. When the unsuspecting mistress arrived, instead of exchanging pleasantries over tea, Marie LaBranche had the woman bound and chained to a wall in the attic where she was left to die a slow death from starvation. While this is a marvelously gory legend, it is clouded with a good deal of doubt. Occupants of this building have reported paranormal activity, however. Cold spots and feelings of panic have overtaken some working on the third floor, where the poor mistress supposedly met her untimely death.

Sources

  • Dwyer, Jeff. Ghost Hunters Guide to New Orleans. Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing, 2007.
  • Taylor, Troy. Haunted New Orleans. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2010.

St. Anthony’s Garden
Behind St. Louis Cathedral across from Orleans Street

This meditative garden has existed here behind the cathedral since the establishment of the church. Located between two haunted alleys: Pere Antoine’s and Pirate’s Alleys, the garden is named in memory of Pere Antoine or Antonio de Sedella, whose spirit may haunt the alley named for him as well as St. Louis Cathedral. According to Jeff Dwyer, this garden was a popular place for duels in the mid-18th century. Some sensitives have detected wafts of smoke from those events.

Sources

  • Dwyer, Jeff. Ghost Hunters Guide to New Orleans. Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing, 2007.

734 Royal Street

Just like the story of the LaBranche Building, the story from this classic New Orleans town house involves a mistress, in this case she was an octoroon (she was 1/8th black) and her name was Julie. She was kept by a wealthy young man who was officially unattached in a well-furnished apartment here. Despite her pleas to her lover to marry her, he could not do so without losing his social standing and perhaps his fortune with it. Carelessly, in order to appease her frequent requests for marriage, the young man said he would marry Julie if she spent the coldest night in December nude on the roof. On the coldest night in December she undressed and crawled onto the roof. Her lover discovered her lithe corpse frozen not long after.

Since that time, Julie’s nude form has been seen on the roof of this building on the coldest night in December. During the remainder of the year Julie lingers in the warmth of the building’s interior. The Bottom of the Cup Tearoom once occupied the ground floor of this building (it moved to 327 Chartres Street) where the shop offered tea and psychic readings. Many of the psychics working here noted Julie’s shade and they believe she may have moved with the shop to Chartres.

Sources

  • Dwyer, Jeff. Ghost Hunters Guide to New Orleans. Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing, 2007.
  • Smith, Katheine. Journey Into Darkness: Ghosts and Vampires of New Orleans. New Orleans, LA: De Simonin Publications, 1998.

Cornstalk Hotel
915 Royal Street

This intimate boutique hotel occupies a mansion with a unique cast-iron fence featuring stalks of corn. Legend relates that the fence was commissioned to comfort the Iowa-born wife of a former resident by reminding her of the cornfields of home. Once the home of Judge François Xavier Martin, he may be one the spirits that still stalks the halls with his footsteps, rattling door knobs. The sounds of children have also been heard here.

Sources

  • Brown, Alan. The Haunted South. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2014.
  • Dwyer, Jeff. Ghost Hunters Guide to New Orleans. Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing, 2007.
Cornstalk Hotel by Infrogmation, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Andrew Jackson Hotel
917 Royal Street

A tragedy on this site more than 200 years ago may still continue to resonate today. A boarding school or orphanage (sources differ) stood here that was destroyed by fire. Five young boys lost their lives and they still play throughout the courtyard and hallways of this hotel. Sheila Turnage notes the experience of a night manager who was diligently working at his desk when he realized he was being watched. Looking up he saw the heads of a group of children trying to peer above the top of his desk. The children vanished moments later.

Sources

  • Asfar, Dan. Ghost Stories of Louisiana. Auburn, WA: Lone Pine Publishing, 2007.
  • Dwyer, Jeff. Ghost Hunters Guide to New Orleans. Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing, 2007.
  • Taylor, Troy. Haunted New Orleans. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2010.
  • Turnage, Sheila. Haunted Inns of the Southeast. Winston-Salem, NC: John F. Blair, 2001.

Starling Magikal Occult Shop
1022 Royal Street

If you care to test drive any of the ghost hunting equipment available for sale here, the Starling Magikal Occult Shop offers its own ghosts. In a 2015 article, the shop’s co-owner Claudia Williams noted that staff and patrons of the shop hear disembodied voices and feel the touch of invisible fingers. Objects occasionally move around on their own accord as well.

Sources

  • Lopez, Kenny. “Want to hunt ghosts? Here are the tools you’ll need…” 26 October 2015.

LaLaurie House
1140 Royal Street, private

Of the myriad haunted houses throughout the South, few have captured the public’s attention more than the hulking LaLaurie Mansion that looms over the intersection of Royal and Nicholls Streets. While the structure itself is significant historically and architecturally, it’s the legends of the atrocities that took place here and the ghosts from those events that draw crowds of tourists. Though the house is not open to the public, the legend still draws people here.

In 1831 this property was purchased by Delphine LaLaurie, the wife of Dr. Leonard Louis LaLaurie. Madame LaLaurie had been married and widowed twice before her marriage to the good doctor and she had five children by her previous husbands. After construction of the mansion in 1832, LaLaurie took up residence and became a central pillar to New Orleans society.

LaLaurie Mansion, 2011 by Reading Tom, courtesy of Wikipedia.

The legend goes back to a fateful report of a fire in the kitchen here April 10, 1834. Firefighters arrived to discover the kitchen in flames and an elderly slave cook chained to the stove. She admitted to setting the fire as a suicide attempt to prevent her being sent to attic from which she said no one ever escaped. A mob that had gathered broke their way into the slave quarters and soon discovered the mutilated remains of “seven slaves, more or less horribly mutilated … suspended by the neck, with their limbs apparently stretched and torn from one extremity to the other” as the New Orleans Bee described the events the next day. While the mob remained to destroy the house and grounds in anger, Madame LaLaurie and her family fled the city. No one ever faced justice for the cruelties inflicted on the slaves here. While this is the most commonly related legend about the house, there is quite a bit of controversy.

As the story has captured the imagination of many, it has found its way into books dating back to the late 19th century, film, television and even video games. Most recently, the legend of Madame LaLaurie was woven into the plethora of local legends in the story arc of American Horror Story: Coven. Portrayed by Kathy Bates, Madame LaLaurie is a simpering racist weighted down with a curse of immortality placed upon her by the immortal Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau. Researchers looking into the legend in recent decades have revealed that Delphine LaLaurie’s reputation may have been targeted as part of a smear campaign.

Do the spirits of slaves still stalk this lovely mansion? Legends relate that former residents here encountered some horrific spirits, though there are few recent stories. Writer and psychic Kala Ambrose tried to commune with the spirits while standing outside of the house recently. While she stood there a number of curious tourists inquired if this was the famous LaLaurie House. A short time later when she placed her hand on the wall of the house a passing ghost tour group took photographs of her. She didn’t contact anything out of the ordinary, perhaps the house is now just haunted by tourists.

Sources

  • Ambrose, Kala. Spirits of New Orleans. Cincinnati, OH: Clerisy Press, 2012.
  • Caskey, James. The Haunted History of New Orleans: Ghosts of the French Quarter. Savannah, GA: Manta Ray Books, 2013.
  • Delphine LaLaurie. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 10 June 2016.

Street Guide to the Phantoms of the French Quarter—Chartres Street

N.B. This article was edited and revised 30 April 2020.

The French Quarter has been lived in and died in; human energy has been manifested continuously and freely for 250 years. Where we find presently a sedate restaurant, we would have found—20 years ago, 50 years ago, 100 years ago or more—a dry goods store, a grocery, a saloon, a coffeehouse, a patisserie, an apothecary, a gambling joint, a silversmith, a printer, a jeweler, a letter-writer, a whorehouse, a bank. They may have disappeared along with their proprietors, but they’ve left behind an aura that infuses the atmosphere.

–Andy Peter Antippas, A Guide to the Historic French Quarter (History & Guide). 2013.

New Orleans’ French Quarter—the Vieux Carré to locals—is among a handful of locales in the South that possesses a high concentration of haunted places. Encompassing nearly two-thirds of a square mile (.66 to be exact), the French Quarter has been said to have spirits in nearly every building and site. Even looking at the documented hauntings here, the number is quite impressive.

The French Quarter is generally defined as the section stretching from Canal Street to Esplanade Avenue and from the Mississippi River northwest to North Rampart Street. This section of the city is where the city was originally founded by the French in 1718. With buildings and sites spanning three centuries, the French Quarter is easily the most paranormally active neighborhood in the entire city.

This series of articles is meant to act as a street by street guide to those hauntings. While some of these stories have gained quite a bit of notoriety in the literature, like Royal Street’s LaLaurie Mansion, and Bourbon Street’s Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, some stories have only been explored in the literature once or twice. This is an attempt to synthesize information from the many sources that exist on the French Quarter into a succinct guide.

For more haunted places in the French Quarter visit the main page for my series, “Phantoms of the French Quarter.”

Sources

  • Antippas, Andy Peter. A Guide to the Historic French Quarter (History & Guide). Charleston SC, Arcadia Publishing, 2013. Kindle Edition.

Chartres Street

Chartres Street, which is often pronounced CHAR-terz or CHAR-trez, was named for the Duc de Chartres in 1724 and is among several of the earliest streets in town. Initially, Chartres only ran from Canal Street to Jackson Square. From Jackson Square to Esplanade, the street was called Condé.

Mahogany Jazz Hall Burlesque and Absinthe House
125 Chartres Street

100 block Chartres Stree French Quarter New Orleans
The building that now contains the Mahogany Jazz Hall is on the right of this photo under the sign of Don Juan’s (which formerly occupied this space). Photo 2007, Infrogmation, courtesy of Wikipedia.

This 19th century building served as a boarding house for many years during which two tenants committed suicide. In 1892, a laborer was shot to death in front of the building with his murderer escaping into the dark of night. These deaths may contribute to the building’s haunted reputation with patrons and staff witnessing shadowy figures, hearing disembodied whispers, and feeling the cold touch of hands from the other side.

Sources

  • “Murder in New Orleans.” The Daily Commercial Herald. 22 November 1892.
  • Pinheiro, Maria. “Four little-known paranormal hotspots in New Orleans.” Malay Mail Online. 11 October 2016.

204 Chartres Street

204 Chartres Street Crescent City Books French Quarter New Orleans
204 Chartres in 2007. The building on the left was still Crescent City Books at this time. Photo by Infrogmation, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Formerly the home to Crescent City Books, one of the more prominent second-hand bookstores in the city, this late 19th century commercial building is apparently haunted by ghosts on every floor, including the specter of a young boy on the first floor. An investigation by the New Orleans based International Society for Paranormal Research (ISPR) identified a number of children’s spirits on the first and second floor as spirits that may also haunt Le Petite Theatre de Vieux Carré on St. Peter Street. Other spirits were discovered on the third floor and attic.

Sources

  • Dwyer, Jeff. Ghost Hunter’s Guide to New Orleans, Revised Edition. Gretna, LA: Pelican, 2016.
  • Montz, Larry and Daena Smoller. ISPR Investigates the Ghosts of New Orleans. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 2000.

W New Orleans – French Quarter
316 Chartres Street

Formerly the Hotel de la Poste, the W Hotel is made up of a collection of old buildings many of which are occupied by their own collections of spirits. ISPR investigated the hotel in July of 1996. On the second floor of the hotel, investigators encountered the spirit of a white woman in her 30s who may be causing some activity there. In another section of the building which may have once held slave quarters, the spirits of three enslaved children were discovered. A middle-aged enslaved man, Gerald, was found by the group near the hotel’s parking garage, which may have been the site of stables were this man labored.

Sources

The Bottom of the Cup Tearoom
327 Chartres Street

Since 1929, The Bottom of the Cup Tearoom has served as one of New Orleans’ psychical landmarks. The tearoom popularly featured psychics who would read the tea leaves left at the bottoms of customers’ teacups. Over time, the shop has added other forms of divination and psychic readings including tarot cards to its menu. While the shop’s second location (open from 1972-2003) at 734 Royal Street possessed the well-known spirit of Julia, there are no documented ghost stories associated with this building, though Jeff Dwyer has noted that the spirit may have moved to the shop after the closure of the Royal Street location. A quote from the shop’s manager indicates there may be some activity there, telling Country Roads Magazine, “There’s a lot of history ground into this neighborhood. Each decade leaves its traces and emotional resin, which helps us tune into the intuitive mind.”

Sources

  • Dwyer, Jeff. Ghost Hunter’s Guide to New Orleans, Revised Edition. Gretna, LA: Pelican, 2016.
  • McGunnigle, Nora. “The Bottom of the Cup.” Country Roads Magazine. 21 September 2018. 

Williams Research Center
410 Chartres Street

The Williams Research Center occupies one of three campuses that houses parts of The Historic New Orleans Collection, which preserves and collects historic items and archives covering the history of the city and the region. The largest items in this collection are a number of historic properties including the building that houses the research collection. Built in 1915, this Beaux-Arts structure originally housed the Second City Criminal Court and the Third District Police Station. The Historic New Orleans Collection purchased the building in 1993 after it had been vacant for many years.

The renovation of this structure required gutting the interior at which time construction workers began to have odd experiences. These included hearing the slamming of cell doors, despite the doors having been removed, and seeing apparitions of police officers in old-fashioned uniforms.

Sources

  • Chartres Street Campus.” Historic New Orleans Collection. Accessed 14 January 2020.
  • Montz, Larry and Daena Smoller. ISPR Investigates the Ghosts of New Orleans. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 2000.

Napoleon House
500 Chartres Street

Postcard Chartres Street Napoleon House French Quarter New Orleans
An early 20th century postcard showing the Napoleon House. Postcard published by A. Hirschwitz.

Built in 1797, this home was significantly expanded for early mayor, Nicholas Girod, who served from 1812-15. According to local lore, offered it as a refuge for Napoleon after he was exiled from France. While he died before he could travel, the house still bears his name. In 1834, some thirteen years after Napoleon’s death, his former physician, Dr. Antommarchi, opened a free clinic in the building, thus continuing its association with the deposed emperor. During the Civil War, wounded soldiers were treated in a hospital that operated on the second floor. In 1914, the Impastato family acquired the property and opened the restaurant and bar that remains in operation.

The over 200-year old history of the building has left spiritual activity. Some stories speak of a Confederate soldier who is seen to stroll the Chartres Street balcony before vanishing or hiding. Another story tells of an old lady who is spotted sweeping on the second floor. While yet others have witnessed the apparition of an enslaved woman in the courtyard.

Over the years, guests and staff have been surprised by lights turning off and on, sometimes on request. During a renovation of the building in the mid-1990’s the spirits expressed their displeasure with a heavy and oppressive feeling throughout. Bartenders also reported that bottles would occasionally fall from their perch behind the bar during this time. A paranormal group that investigated the building recently noted several entities on the property including a young lady in the courtyard who may have died in an accident and an old sailor who drinks at the bar late at night.

Sources

  • Bailey, Shan. “Strange ghosts: Drinking sailor, sweeping lady haunt the Napoleon House.” NOLA Weekend. No Date.
  • Brown, Alan. The Haunted South. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2014.
  • Duplechien, Brad. “Napoleon House Bar – New Orleans, LA (A Ruler’s Hideout).” Haunted Nation Blog. 26 September 2016.
  • Dwyer, Jeff. Ghost Hunter’s Guide to New Orleans, Revised Edition. Gretna, LA: Pelican, 2016.
  • Montz, Larry and Daena Smoller. ISPR Investigates the Ghosts of New Orleans. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 2000.
  • Napoleon House Historic Past.” Napoleon House. Accessed 2 June 2016.

New Orleans Pharmacy Museum (La Pharmacie Francais)
514 Chartres Street

When Louis Dufilho opened his pharmacy here in 1823, this was the first licensed pharmacy established in the country. Dr. Dufilho operated his business here for some 35 years before retiring and selling his business to Dr. Joseph Dupas. Many sources suggest that Dupas performed medical experiments on slaves, especially pregnant slave women.

Chartres Street French Quarter Pharmacy Museum Hotel Ste. Helene Napoleon House
The view looking down Chartres Street. From the left, the buildings are the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum, Hotel Ste. Helene, and the Napoleon House. Photo 2008, by Infrogmation, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Tour guide Katherine Smith suggested in her book, Journey Into Darkness: Ghosts and Vampires of New Orleans, that Dupas also treated wounded soldiers here during the Civil War. Perhaps the pain and death from the medical experiments and the soldiers being treated have left a mark on the energy of this building. Some visitors have reported being suddenly overcome with nausea while others have encountered a figure in a brown suit and white lab coat that may be the spirit of Dr. Dupas.

Sources

  • Dwyer, Jeff. Ghost Hunter’s Guide to New Orleans. Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing, 2007.
  • Oldfield, Eileen. “Things that go bump in the haunted pharmacy.” Pharmacy Times. 30 October 2014.
  • Smith, Katherine. Journey Into Darkness: Ghosts & Vampires of New Orleans. New Orleans, LA: De Simonin Publications, 1998.

Chartres House (Gally House)
540 Chartres Street

The large building occupying this corner of Chartres and Toulouse Streets is sometimes known as Keuffers Building. Built sometime after 1830, the building was intended to house businesses on the first floor with apartments on the second and third floors. If you walk alongside the building on Toulouse Street, you can see the separate slave quarters at the back of the building. Some passersby have noticed a young lady peering from the upper windows on this side of the building, despite the fact that these rooms were vacant at the time. Venture into the parking lot off Toulouse Street and look at the first small window. Tour guides will point out this window and encourage visitors to plunge their hand in. Some visitors have felt the feeling of their hands being grasped by small hands. Jeff Dwyer notes that these hands may belong to slave children who were housed in this room.

Gally House French Quarter New Orleans Frances Johnston
The Gally House in the 1930s as photographed by Frances Johnston for the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS). Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Recently, the Chartres House restaurant, which opened originally in the former Reynes Mansion (see below) across the street, relocated into the majestic Gally House.

Sources

  • Dwyer, Jeff. Ghost Hunter’s Guide to New Orleans. Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing, 2007.
  • HistoryChartres House. Accessed 30 April 2020.

Reynes Mansion (formerly the Chartres House)
601 Chartres Street

Originally built as a residence for the Reynes family following the Great Fire of 1788, this home was eventually occupied by the popular Victor’s Café in the late 19th century. Known as a hangout for artists and bohemians, Victor’s was a favorite of the writer William Faulkner.

An apartment located on the second-floor was the scene of a shooting death in the 1970s. The young man who lived there is supposed to have been involved in drugs. Following his death, the building’s owners had trouble renting the apartment as prospective tenants often detected bad energy and some became physically ill while touring the apartment.

Reynes Mansion French Quarter New Orleans
The Reynes Mansion in 2008, when it was still the Chartres House. Photo by Infrogmation, courtesy of Wikipedia.

This building was occupied by the Chartres House restaurant until it relocated across the street to the Gally House (see above).

Sources

Bosque House
617 Chartres Street, private

Bosque House French Quarter New Orleans
The Bosque House in 2011. Photo by Elisa.rolle, courtesy of Wikipedia.

This classic late 18th century Creole townhouse was built to replace a home destroyed in the Great Fire of 1788. Legend holds that this fire started on this site. Don Vicente Jose Nuñez, the army treasurer, owned the house at this site where curtains caught fire from a candle on the family’s personal altar on Good Friday. Tradition prohibited the ringing of bells on this most holy day and the priests of St. Louis Church would not allow the church’s bells to be rung to alarm the citizens. The fire eventually destroyed the church and nearly 900 other buildings in the city. Residents of this private home have heard the sounds of muffled bells. Perhaps better late than never?

Sources

  • Klein, Victor C. New Orleans Ghosts III. Metarie, LA: Lycanthrope Press, 2004.
  • Smith, Katherine. Journey Into Darkness: Ghosts & Vampires of New Orleans. New Orleans, LA: De Simonin Publications, 1998.

The Cabildo
701 Chartres Street

The younger twin of The Presbytère, The Cabildo was constructed to replace the city hall that was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1788. Of all the buildings in this city, this building has witnessed more important historic events than any other. Within the walls of the Cabildo the Louisiana Purchase was finalized in 1803. During the building’s time housing the Louisiana Supreme Court, the case of Plessy v. Ferguson was heard before it headed to the U.S. Supreme Court where it enshrined the concept of “separate but equal” into American racial law. The building became a part of the Louisiana State Museum in 1908.

Cabildo French Quarter New Orleans
The Cabildo, 1936, by Richard Koch for the Historic American
Buildings Survey (HABS). Courtesy of the Library of Congress,
Prints and Photographs Division.

While this building served as a seat of government for many years, a prison once stood behind it (see my entry on Pirate Alley for more information on this structure) which may explain the presence of a young soldier. Legend holds that the young man was imprisoned in the prison and, after a trial before a military tribunal, was summarily executed in the courtyard. Some of the museum’s staff and visitors have felt the sensation of someone rushing past them. Others have seen the pathetic form of a soldier in a ragged uniform.

Sources

  • The Cabildo. Louisiana State Museums. Accessed 2 June 2016.
  • Dwyer, Jeff. Ghost Hunter’s Guide to New Orleans. Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing, 2007.

St. Louis Cathedral
Jackson Square

interior of St. Louis Cathedral New Orleans
Interior of St. Louis Cathedral by Carol M. Highsmith.
Courtesy of the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

The Grande Dame of New Orleans, St. Louis Cathedral has stood at the sacred heart of this city since the construction of the first church on this site in 1718. The current building was originally constructed between 1789 and 1794 and heavily reconstructed in the mid-19th century. Legend holds that the black-robed form of Father Antonio de Sedella, often known by his French moniker, Père Antoine, appears during the Christmas Midnight Mass. The specter of this most beloved of curates appears to the left of the altar holding a candle.

Sources

  • Brown, Alan. The Haunted South. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2014.
  • Our History.” Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis. Accessed 2 June 2016.

The Presbytère
751 Chartres Street

The Presbytere New Orleans
The Presbytère, 2007, by Infrogmation. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

The Presbytère is one of the pair of buildings flanking St. Louis Cathedral. Originally constructed in 1791 to match The Cabildo, this structure was known as “Casa Curial” or “Ecclesiastical House,” and provided housing for the Capuchin monks who ran the cathedral. In 1911, the building was taken over to house the Louisiana State Museum. The museum houses two permanent exhibits: one commemorating Hurricane Katrina and the other celebrating the city’s Mardi Gras traditions. While visiting the museum should you see a tall and slim maintenance man in a dark uniform with curly brown hair, be assured that you have just seen a ghost.

Sources

  • Dwyer, Jeff. Ghost Hunter’s Guide to New Orleans. Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing, 2007.
  • The Presbytère. Louisiana State Museums. Accessed 2 June 2016.

Muriel’s Jackson Square
801 Chartres Street

Originally built as a grand residence for the noted Destrehan family (who also owned haunted Destrehan Plantation found along the famed River Road), the building that now houses Muriel’s partially burned in the Great Fire of 1788 that ravaged the city. Supposedly, the burned house was purchased by Pierre Antoine Lepardi Jourdan who restored the home but sadly lost it in a card game. Not willing to simply leave the home, he quietly resigned to the second floor where he committed suicide in what is now known as the Séance Lounge.

Muriel's Restaurant New Orleans
Muriel’s in 2008. Photo by Infrogmation, courtesy of Wikipedia.

At least this is the story that is commonly told about this building. It is even included on the restaurant’s website. According to a 2013 blog post entitled, “The ‘Ghost’ of Muriel’s Restaurant,” this story is partially bunk. The blog notes that the current building was constructed sometime around the turn of the 20th century after the house on that site was torn down. While the history may not match up to the legend, there still may be paranormal activity with staff and visitors hearing knocking from inside the brick walls of the Séance Lounge, and disembodied voices, while encountering shadowy figures throughout the building. In order to keep some of the activity at bay, the restaurant maintains a special table for the ghost of Monsieur Jourdan.

Sources

  • Brown, Alan. The Haunted South. Charleston, SC: History Press. 2014.
  • Dwyer, Jeff. Ghost Hunter’s Guide to New Orleans. Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing, 2007.
  • The ‘Ghost’ of Muriel’s Restaurant.” Myth Busters! 4 July 2013.
  • Our Ghost.” Muriel’s Jackson Square. Accessed 2 June 2016.
  • Tipping, Joy. “Ghost trails and Halloween haunts in New Orleans.” Dallas Morning News. 23 October 2008.

Hotel Provincial
1024 Chartres Street

Hotel Provincial French Quarter New Orleans
Hotel Provincial in 2019. Photo by Infrogmation, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Like many hotels throughout the quarter, this hotel consists of an amalgam of different buildings, each with different histories. The 500 building seems to be the one with activity. The building was constructed on a site that was originally occupied by an Ursuline Hospital. It was here that the wounded from the 1814 Battle of New Orleans were treated. During the Civil War the buildings on the site were commandeered for use as a military hospital. That building burned and was replaced by the current structure. Guests and staff have, according to tradition, encountered bloodstains that disappear before their eyes, wounded soldiers in the rooms and corridors, doctors and nurses in bloodstained clothing, and one unlucky security guard using an elevator had the doors open to reveal the scene of a Civil War era surgery.

Sources

  • Brown, Alan. The Haunted South. Charleston, SC: History Press. 2014.
  • Dwyer, Jeff. Ghost Hunter’s Guide to New Orleans. Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing, 2007.
  • The Hauntings of the Provincial Hotel.” Ghost Eyes Blog. 20 August 2009.

Old Ursuline Convent
1100 Chartres Street

One of the oldest buildings in New Orleans, the old Ursuline Convent has survived hurricanes, fires, and the nuns have provided aid during plagues and epidemics. It’s no surprise that their old convent would house spirits. According to Jeff Dwyer, the spirits of Ursuline sisters have been seen gliding throughout the building while the spirit of a Civil War era soldier has been seen in the garden. (For a couple photos of the Old Ursuline Convent see my entry here.)

Sources

  • Dwyer, Jeff. Ghost Hunter’s Guide to New Orleans. Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing, 2007.

Beauregard-Keyes House
1113 Chartres Street

See my entry, “Creepiness on Chartres Street,” for an in depth look at the history and hauntings of this famous home.

Le Richelieu Hotel
1234 Chartres Street

Housed in two buildings, one dating from 1845, the other from 1902, the Le Richelieu Hotel occupies the site where five French patriots were executed in the late 18th century. The spirits of these five men may still reside here. For further pictures see, “A Handful of Haunts—Photos from New Orleans.”

Sources

  • A Brief History.” Le Richelieu. Accessed 3 June 2016.
  • Smith, Katherine. Journey Into Darkness: Ghosts & Vampires of New Orleans. New Orleans, LA: De Simonin Publications, 1998.