New Orleans, one of the most atmospheric and tragic cities in America is also one of the most haunted. Even before the hurricane, New Orleans was a scary place with a haunted history. Now, the city is even more desolate and spooky.
The LaLaurie Mansion, now a restaurant, is inhabited by the spirits of slaves who were tortured and killed there in the 1830s. For over a hundred years, visitors to the house have reported terrifying, sometimes violent, phenomena. A more famous resident, Voodoo priestess Marie Laveau, is still seen around the city. Le Petit Théâtre du Vieux Carré houses many spirits, some more likely to frighten visitors than others, but most related to its theatrical past. Mary Green, a former captain of the steamboat Delta Queen, once saved the ship from sinking–after she had died. And lastly, in the town of St. Francisville lies the Myrtles Plantation, one of the most haunted houses in America. It is the site of several spirits, including Chloe, a slave who was hung after she accidentally poisoned the wife and children of her master, and her unintended victims.
LaLaurie Mansion, 1140 Royal Street
In the 1830s, Madame Delphine Macarty LaLaurie, a member of the social elite and wife of respected physician Leonard Lewis Nicholas LaLaurie, had a reputation for throwing wonderful parties. Her reputation–her good reputation, anyway–ended on April 10, 1834 when a fire broke out in the mansion’s kitchen. When firemen arrived and found a barred door in the mansion’s attic, they entered the room and were horrified by what they saw. Slaves were around the room, some tied down, others hung, and still others put in cages. They were the victims of sickening “medical experiments”–their bones were broken and reset at strange angles, some had limbs amputated, and others had skin grafts; any number of grotesqueries. Not long after the fire, the LaLauries barely escaped a lynch mob that set out to kill them. Rumor has it they either moved to northern Louisiana or abroad to France. In any case, they were never seen again.
The story, at horrible as it is, does not end there. In the late 1800s, workmen found several human skeletons hidden under floorboards. Many people have reported various, sometimes terrifying supernatural phenomena as well, including the sounds of beatings. A century ago, when the mansion was a boarding house, a man enountered a naked and shackled black man–a man that disappeared when touched. Madame LaLaurie herself has been reported peering into a baby’s crib, but this is by far her most benevolent visitation. In the late nineteenth century, a black servant was woken from his sleep, strangled by the transleucent blue spirit of Madame LaLaurie, only to be barely saved by a pair of similarly ghostly African-American hands. 1140 Royal is now a “trendy” French Corner restaurant–it is unknown if the phenomena continues.
St. Louis Cemetery No. 1
Marie Laveau was once New Orleans’ most sought-after Voodoo priestess, and her wisdom was known around the country. Her ghost still reportedly haunts several Orleans locations, including St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, which is where her body is buried.
The Myrtles Plantation
Built on Indian burial ground, The Myrtles has seen more than its share of tragedy. Chloe, a young house slave, had the unfortunate habit of eavesdropping on the plantation owner’s plans. One time, she was caught, and her loss of status was shown emphatically by the loss of her ear. In order to prove how capable she could be, Chloe poisoned the birthday cake of one of her master’s girls with a poison derived from the leaves of the Oleander plant, intending to sicken the family, so she, knowing exactly what was wrong with them, could nurse them back to health. Unfortunately, she used too much of the poison, and her charges die. Chloe was then hung, the victim of mob justice. Now, the Myrtles is a bed and breakfast, and guests report seeing various apparitions, including the two girls, their mother, and Chloe herself. In fact, several photographs have been taken that appear to picture the spirits.
The Delta Queen
Mary Green, one of the few women who Captained a steamboat, still haunts this elegant ship. She has made her presence known to its present staff and guests, once even saving the ship by alerting the first mate that the ship was taking on water.
Le Petit Théâtre du Vieux Carré, 616 Saint Peter
This theater, which opened in its current incarnation in 1922, has survived fires and other events reaching as far back as the late 1700s. It now hosts many apparitions, most connected in some way with the theater. Among the most notable are Caroline, an actress who died after falling from a balcony, who helps stagehands find missing props, and another, unnamed actress, who hung herself on the stage after losing a part she was promised (rumor has it she even slept with the director). The curtain by which she hung herself generates cold spots to this day. A friendy ghost is Sigmund, a man who once worked as a carpenter, who evidently feels that the backstage is still his. His shadow appears on the walls there, showing him doing his work. He also turns lights on and off, moves curtains, and absconds with props. People have also reported a still, silent stranger appearing in the balcony. All of these, however, pale in comparison to the fearful encounter three men once had with a terrible force that escaped the dressing rooms–through one of them.