N.B. This article was originally published 16 June 2016 with Basin and North Rampart Streets.
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.”
- Antippas, Andy Peter. A Guide to the Historic French Quarter (History & Guide). Charleston SC, Arcadia Publishing, 2013. Kindle Edition.
This street takes its name from Louis, Duke of Burgundy (1682-1712), who was the son of Louis, the Grand Dauphine, and father to King Louis XV of France.
Hotel St. Pierre
911 Burgundy Street
The Hotel St. Pierre, a motley assemblage of buildings, occupies the corner of Burgundy and Dumaine Streets and contains some of the oldest structures in the city. Standing in the carriageway of large building next to the hotel’s lobby, a liveried enslaved man has been spotted. He is believed to be the carriage master who worked here in the mid-19th century. He is seen throughout the day still waiting for a carriage to arrive. During an investigation in 1996, investigators saw this man standing in the carriageway. He was described as a black man “between forty-five and fifty years of age, medium build, wearing a royal-blue colored shirt and pants.”
Guests staying in one of the hotel buildings just across the street from the lobby have reported encounters with a gray-clad figure, believed to be a Confederate soldier. One guest had an encounter with a spirit that changed channels on the room’s television and later sat on the edge of the bed, chilling the guest’s feet under the covers.
- Dwyer, Jeff. Ghost Hunter’s Guide to New Orleans. Gretna, LA: Pelican, 2016.
- Montz, Larry and Daena Smoller. ISPR Investigates the Ghosts of New Orleans. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 2000.
1201 Burgundy Street
Several spirits are believed to occupy this cozy neighborhood bar at the corner of Burgundy and Governor Nicholls Streets. Established in 1934, this bar is supposed to be haunted by two entities: a woman who has been seen in the bar wearing a robe and slippers, and a man who is known as “Uncle Joe.” The apparition of the woman may be the spirit of a former resident of the building. Uncle Joe is believed to be the spirit of a former patron who continues to imbibe in the afterlife.
- Smith, Katherine. Haunted History Tours Presents: Journey Into Darkness…Ghosts and Vampires of New Orleans. New Orleans, LA: De Simonin Publications, 1998.
1303 Burgundy Street
For decades, this structure on the corner of Burgundy and Barracks Streets has been the focus of legend and mystery. Even the 1938 WPA guide to the city describes it as a “so-called rendezvous of ghosts.” Jeanne DeLavigne’s monumental 1946 book, Ghost Stories of Old New Orleans, further cultivated the building’s legends. Those legends speak of this building as having been built during the Spanish occupation of the city between 1763 and 1801 and it being used as a garrison for troops. Some stories claim that the building was also used as a prison where many were tortured and kept in abominable conditions.
The truth, however, is far more interesting. Historian Stanley Arthur proved that the structure dates to the 1830s and was used during the city’s occupation by Union forces.
When once again, war arrived at the city’s doorstep in 1862, it came in the form of a blue-clad former resident, Admiral David Farragut, with a fleet of Yankee ships and troops. The city’s defenses were easily overcome, and the Confederate forces fled leaving the humiliated city to the mercy of the Union. General Benjamin Butler took charge of the city imposing martial law with an iron fist.
The city’s military government took over this building for use as a prison and the city’s ardent Confederates found themselves confined here along with local citizens who rebelliously heaped indignations on their Union occupiers. Conditions were notorious and likely led to many of the tales that have circulated regarding this building.
The Morro Castle was divided into apartments many decades ago and has been off-limits to the prying eyes of the public, providing even more fodder for the fanciful fables of ghastly spirits roaming the corridors. Victor C. Klein includes the tale of the Old Spanish Garrison in his 1993 New Orleans Ghosts, basing it on DeLavigne’s version of the story. Six years later, he corrected his original story after talking with a resident of the building. That resident noted that the activity did not live up to the horrifying tales, and only had “the earmarks of a classical ghost story. He [the resident] alleged that cold spots, noises and ghastly odors occurred without all of which were without rational explanation.”
- DeLavigne, Jeanne. Ghost Stories of Old New Orleans. Baton Rouge: LSU Press, 2013. Reprint of original 1946 edition.
- Federal Writers’ Project of the Works Progress Administration. New Orleans City Guide, 1938. Reprint by Garrett County Press, 2009.
- Klein, Victor C. New Orleans Ghosts. Metairie, LA: Lycanthropy Press, 1993.
- Klein, Victor C. New Orleans Ghosts II. Metairie, LA: Lycanthropy Press, 1999.