Pavillon in New Orleans' Central Business District
has been visited by paranormal researchers in search
ORLEANS — It’s a generally accepted fact that New
Orleans is unlike any other American city. Where else will
you find people willingly boarding buses marked
"Cemeteries"? Where else will voodoo priests and
priestesses be lauded as rock stars, their graves
decorated with floral tributes? What other city deifies
its sinners and names its football team the Saints?
where will you find stately homes — from the French
Quarter to the Garden District to the River Road —
offering quite the same testament to a rich, colorful and
often haunted history?
these houses could talk, theirs would be a conversation
peppered with tales of lost pirate treasure, doomed love
affairs, political intrigue and grisly murders. The
elegant facades belie the secrets within their walls and
the skeletons noisily clanking in their closets.
the corner of Governor Nicholls and Royal Streets in the
French Quarter is the building known simply as "the
Haunted House." In the 1830s it was owned by Delphine
LaLaurie, a Creole socialite heralded throughout New
Orleans for her glamorous soirees.
was less well-known — until a fire exposed her horrific
secret — for the torture chamber she maintained in the
attic to punish her slaves.
discovery of Madame LaLaurie’s perfidy, outraged
neighbors razed the mansion, and she and her family fled
to France. Later rebuilt, the house is featured on French
Quarter ghost tours, with some claiming they can sense the
tormented souls of those who perished here.
not as lurid as the LaLaurie residence, the Beauregard-Keyes
House has its own tale to tell. Once the residence (a
century apart) of Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard
and novelist Francis Parkinson Keyes, the antebellum
mansion on Chartres Street was also home at one time to
the virtuous and the vile.
virtuous were Ursuline nuns from the convent across the
street, who occupied an earlier dwelling on the site, and
the vile were members of the city’s Mafioso — three of
whom were shot to death on the premises in 1909.
ghost that roams here, however, had no ties to religion or
organized crime. It’s the shade of General Beauregard
himself, who has allegedly been seen on balmy nights
strolling in the formal French garden, his wife Caroline
by his side.
are equally lively at the Hermann-Grima House on St. Louis
Street, which bears testimony to the unfriendly acts
committed by occupying Yankee soldiers during the Civil
War. Among their indignities were raiding the owners’
wine cellar and using the grand staircase for target
practice (bullet holes can still be seen under the
lack of congeniality on the part of the Yankees has been
more than made up for by the ghosts who today inhabit the
four-story house museum — "a positively friendly
bunch," as described by museum staff.
of those friendly ghosts are former owners responsible for
the occasional lovely aromas inexplicably wafting through
the rooms —lavender, favored by Mrs. Hermann, and roses,
loved by Mrs. Grima.
upriver from New Orleans on the River Road, 225-year-old
Destrehan Plantation positively swarms with spirits who
roam the grounds and hide in the attic.
to a tour guide, there are lovesick ghosts, one-armed
ghosts, pint-size ghosts, weeping ghosts, and ghosts of
slaves and pirates.
most famous ghost is that of notorious privateer Jean
Lafitte. Legend has it that Lafitte buried some of his
pirate treasure on the plantation grounds. On stormy,
moonless nights, his ghost, draped in a black cape, is
said to wander among the oaks, looking for the lost loot.
ghost must be a restless one, as both staff and patrons at
his namesake Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop on Bourbon Street
have reported seeing it manifested in a pair of glowing
red eyes staring from the fireplace grate.
Blacksmith Shop, now one of the Quarter’s most
atmospheric bars with its sagging floors, wooden beams and
walls, and candles, was built in 1722 as a base for the
pirate and his crew, who operated out of Barataria Bay off
the Louisiana coast.
ghosts of Lafitte and company have to share table space
with those of writers such as Tennessee Williams and Noel
Coward, who frequently drank here in the 1940s when it was
a popular night spot favored by artists and bohemians.
almost impossible to find a hotel in New Orleans that isn’t
haunted, and guests will happily pay extra for rooms that
are. From the Hotel Provincial and Prince Conti in the
French Quarter to Le Pavillon in the Central Business
District to the Columns Hotel in the Garden District,
these properties sport enough spectres to start their own
Mardi Gras krewes.
you pass Le Pavillon Hotel just down Poydras Street from
the Superdome, you’ll see an imposing structure with
20-foot tall Italian statues, crystal chandeliers visible
from the windows, and the largest gas lantern in the
you check in, however, you’ll "see" a lot
more, according to paranormal researchers. Among the hotel’s
lively assortment of ghosts are a 19th century teenage
girl, an aristocratic couple from the Roaring 20s and a
gentleman who loved to prank the housekeeping staff.
New Orleans hotel can hold a candle — flickering or
otherwise — to the Monteleone on Royal Street in the
French Quarter for the sheer number of live-in ghosts.
Among the dozen or so resident poltergeists are Red, a
longtime hotel employee, and a former guest, a young boy
who delights in playing hide-and-seek up and down the
recent guest reported seeing a man wearing only a
feathered mask who disappeared before his very eyes in the
hotel corridor. However, it should be noted that this
sighting occurred during Mardi Gras, so another call to
paranormal investigators might not be necessary.
of New Orleans’ legendary restaurants are just as
haunted as its hotels, none more so than Muriel’s
Jackson Square, which anchors one quadrant of its namesake
restaurant was once the home of an 18th century Creole
aristocrat, who soon after purchasing the house proceeded
to lose it in a game of chance. The new owner got a
gruesome housewarming gift — the body of the former
owner hanging from the rafters above the stairwell.
continues to reside there, being described by some who
have seen the apparition as a "long cylindrical
luminescence with sparkles on the outside."
less threatening presence can be felt at Arnaud’s
Restaurant on Bienville Street. The legendary Creole
restaurant opened in 1918 by Arnaud Cazenave, known as
"Count" Arnaud, is a favorite of visitors for
its tiled floors, ceiling fans, fluffy pommes frites and
latter was a legacy from the Count, a real stickler for
French-style service, and his ghost can still be found
re-arranging silverware and napkins if they are placed
incorrectly and changing set-ups at the bar if they are
not to his liking.
Orleans is a city where much that happens is inexplicable,
so, if on your next visit you find yourself walking
through Jackson Square with the early morning fog rolling
off the river, that presence walking behind you might not
be quite alive.
Nickell is a Lexington, Ky.-based travel and food writer.
Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
ORLEANS’ HAUNTED HOUSES
Haunted House, 1040 Royal Street
House, 1113 Chartres
House, 820 St. Louis, hgghh.org
Plantation, 13034 River Road, destrehanplantation.com
Blacksmith Shop, 941 Bourbon Street,
Pavillon Hotel, 833 Poydras, lepavillon.com
Monteleone, 214 Royal Street, hotelmonteleone.com
Jackson Square, 801 Chartres, muriels.com
Restaurant, 813 Bienville Street, arnaudsrestaurant.com