New Orleans is a very different city from the rest of the American South. One distinct reason is its combined European and African heritage. Some believed that the city of New Orleans has a far longer history than the American Independence itself. The Creole, Cajun and Voodoo culture has its own stories to tell which contributed to the history and heritage of the city.
The night of my arrival in New Orleans I booked myself as ghost tour of the French Quarter. Tours such as this is one way of learning about a place giving it a completely different perspective. The stories you will hear from tours like this are the kind that you do not normally learn from your history class at school. If you are a believer of the paranormal and has some fear of it, group tours like this is better than doing ghost tours on your own – you are bound to have company all throughout and your guide will never leave you. On the night of my arrival in New Orleans, I went with Free Walking on Foot (add hyperlink here) with tour guide Mikko. Here are some of the paranormally active places Mikko took us in the French Quarter of New Orleans.
La Petite Theatre (616 St. Peter Street) – also known as La Petite Theatre du Vieux Carre, Here you will learn about the story of the ghost of a heartbroken actress called Gabrielle roam the backstage and courtyard of the theatre. Another story is about man with top hat and black suit sitting on the third seat on the third row of the balcony section of the audience. This theatre has a long history of paranormal activity most ghost enthusiasts would appreciate. The theatre is still in business today showing different acts and performances nightly.
St. Louis Cathedral (Jackson Sqaure) – the hauntings of this grand and historic church are mostly by the clergy that once served here. One such clergyman was Pere Dagobert who led a secret funeral for rebel leaders who was executed by firing squad in front of the church. The other was Pere Antoine, a Spanish monk who got in the wrong side of the citizens and the local government. He wanted to established harsh practices in the Catholic church sort of like own version of the Spanish Inquisition and its congregation but luckily he failed. He eventually found true religious ministry and became the spiritual advisor of all. He is buried in the church yard today. Besides these two priests, there are other local characters that haunts the church.
Bourbon Orleans Hotel (717 Orleans Street) – there are many spirits that still haunts the halls of the Bourbon Orleans Hotel. There is a girl in a hoop skirt dancing alone in the second floor ballroom. There is also a Confederate soldier who somehow “guards” the halls of the sixth and third floors. There are also nuns and children who died of yellow fever when this building was a convent. Yellow fever struck New Orleans on more than one occasion. All of these spirits are still here at least to those who has witnessed them.
Muriel’s Restaurant (801 Chartres Street) – The spirits that haunts the building is the former owner Mr. Pierre Jourdan who has a dedicated table at the courtyard of the restaurant. But he’s not the only spirit will find here. There were reports of a little slave girl peeking out of the building’s side door. This building was also once a warehouse of slaves fresh off the boat from Africa and the Carribean. The devastating fire of 1788 killed the people that was housed here. Of all the buildings we visited, this is the only one with a seánce room dedicated to communicating with the spirits of the building.
Madame John’s Legacy (632 Dumaine Street) – If you have seen the film “Interview with a Vampire” released in 1994, you would recognized its famous balcony which was briefly shown in the film. This building is now a museum and is one of the oldest buildings in the city. One of the most famous spirit that still “lives” here is of its former owner Jean Pascal who was killed during the Natchez massacre in 1729. After the death of his wife, the house went through several different owners. Another spirit reported seen here may have been Renato Beluche known to have lived in this home at some point in time. The name of the building, Madame John’s Legacy, came from a short story written by local writer named George Washington Cable, and it stuck with the locals.
Andrew Jackson’s Hotel (919 Royal Street) – named after the late president, this very hotel was once the site of a boarding school and orphanage for boys. Paranormal activities showed that five boys who were killed at the school during the 1794 fire, haunts the halls and “played” with its former general manager. There are also reports of the ghost of its former caretaker or housekeeper, reports of Andrew Jackson himself roams the halls and rooms of the hotel. Regardless of who you encounter at this hotel, it is still housing visitors since it opened its doors in 1890.
Lafitte Blacksmith Shop (941 Bourbon Street) – The pirates Jean (and probably brother Pierre) used this blacksmith shop as a front for all their illegal activities while staying in New Orleans. It was reported that the ghost of Jean Lafitte have been seen here. Another ghostly occupant of this building is the spirit of a woman hanging out on the second floor introducing herself to unsuspecting guests by calling out their names. There are also reports of a doctor being killed here by Lafitte himself when he failed to pay his debts to the pirate. Today, this blacksmith shop is a bar open most of the day and the evening.
Lalaurie House (1140 Royal Street) – this house has the most gruesome history of all of the places we visited because of its most infamous owner Madame Lalaurie. She lived on this house which is also the site of where her slaves was tortured endlessly sometimes left to die. When this was discovered by the town’s people, a mob started gathering outside its doors in protest. She and her husband narrowly escaped this mob and was able to sail to Paris. The story of her eveil deeds even reached the shores of Europe where they were constantly changing their identities while in hiding. It is reported that the ghosts seen here are those who died in the hands of Madame Lalaurie who some people say did the torturing herself.
New Orleans is one American city that have had its share of gruesome and catastrophic events. Some of the events are so unbelievable that it took the lives of some of the locals. It is certainly one thing to learn about the Louisiana Purchase in 1804. But it is another to learn about the lives and terrible deaths of some of the citizens that lived in this part of the Bayou. It is certainly the kinds of stories that would make you hide under the covers.