They say that if you live in The Big Easy and you don't have a ghost in your house, you haven't paid enough attention. In a town with more spooks, specters, and scares than living people, a ghost lover could get a bit overwhelmed. Luckily for those traveling to the most haunted city in America, there's more tours options, events, and ghost hunts than you can shake a PKE meter at.
Here's your definitive ghost guide to New Orleans:
St Louis Cemetery opened its gates in 1789 and replaced the old Saint Peters Cemetery that had been located in the heart of the city. After the fire of 1788, citizens agreed it would be healthier to build the new cemetery away from the dense city population, and the new graveyard was built 8 blocks from the Mississippi River.
Over 100,000 departed citizens have been put to rest inside the gates, and the cemetery is roughly the size of one square block. One of the most famous departed New Orleans citizens buried at St Louis #1 is Voudou Priestess Marie Laveau. Visitors to her grave usually pay their respect by leaving her alcohol, flowers, money, beads, or tobacco.
There are so many first-hand accounts of paranormal activity at the cemetery that it would be impossible to list them all. Some of the most noteworthy include being slapped by the ghost of Marie Laveau, the appearance of mysterious blue eyes, and interactions with a ghost named Alphonse. Many of the encounters with Alphonse occur around the Pinead family vault, where he appears holding a vase of flowers and begins to cry. Then without warning, he'll disappear right before your eyes.
A word of advice to anyone planning on touring the cemetery alone: don't. Tourists have been robbed as they pass between the narrow vault alleys, so if you want to explore the City of Angels take one of these awesome tours, and you won't have to worry about anything... except maybe the ghosts.
Nicknamed the "heart and soul of the old quarter of New Orleans", it's said that "Everyone you have ever known or ever will know, eventually ends up at The Old Absinth House."
Built in 1806 by Pedro Front and Francisco Juncadelia, "Alexi's Coffee House" became an absinth house in the 1860s, and quickly became one of the most popular places in the city. When absinth was finally outlawed in 1912, the authorities threatened to burn the bar to the ground if they didn't close their doors for good. Under the cloak of darkness, the owners moved the famous "copper-colored wooden bar" to a secret warehouse, and continued to serve the illegal drink.
In 2004 the bar was returned to its original home on Bourbon street, and according to staff, the ghosts followed. Some of the paranormal activity that takes place at the Old Absinthe House includes doors opening and closing, bottles moving, and even chairs grouping together on their own, almost as if the ghosts were getting together after hours.
This little two-story blacksmith was build sometime in the 1700s and managed to escape both the 1788 and 1794 fires. The Blacksmith shop was the place of business for infamous privateer brothers Jean and Pierre Lafitte, and is considered by many to be one of the most haunted buildings in New Orleans.
The shop is rumored to be home to two spirits, the ghost of Jean Lafitte, and an unknown female entity who appears on second floor, often seen reflecting back in a mirror. Many believe she is either the ghost of a young Marie Laveau, or the infamous and terrible Madame Dalphine Lalaurie.
Today, many people have reported seeing the spirit of the kind priest walking down the front steps of the church, only to disappear down an alley named after him. Often times people will hear the sound of his tenor voice singing "Kyrie" from inside the old cathedral.
Considered by many to be the most haunted location in the French Quarter, The Lalaurie Mansion earned its reputation for good reason.
In 1832, Dr. Louis Lalaurie and his wife Delphine moved into their massive home at 1140 Royal Street in the French Quarter. Mrs. Lalaurie was a popular socialite, and many blue blooded New Orleanians anticipated her parties, as she was considered the wealthiest and most refined woman in the city. Unfortunately, she was a also a sadistic, insane, cold-blooded murder.
Delphine was notoriously cruel to the slaves at Lalaurie House. Not only did she keep the house's cook chained to the fireplace in the kitchen, but neighbors once witnessed her chasing a young slave girl with a whip. The terrified little girl jumped to her death from the mansion's rooftop just to get away from the fate that awaited her at the hands of Madame Lalaurie. At one point, all of the slaves of Lalaurie Home were impounded due to the rumors about their horrible treatment. Unfortunately, Madame Lalaurie managed to coax her family members into buying them back, and again they found themselves at Lalaurie Mansion.
Finally, one day a massive fire broke out in the kitchen, and when fire fighters arrived to put out the flames, they were horrified by what they discovered. Men, women, and children, hidden behind secret, barred doors in the attic. Some of the slaves were chained to walls, some crammed into small dog cages, others stretched out on makeshift operating tables. There were body parts everywhere, bodies with their mouths crudely sewn shut, and fire fighters even found a man who had been hung upside down with a stick in his head. Many had died, or were clinging to life, such as a man who had both arms and legs broken and re-set at strange angles.
A mob gathered outside of Madame Lalaurie's mansion, demanding justice, but when a stage coach burst from the gate, the entire Lalaurie family disappeared and were never found again.
For years the house sat abandoned, and since then there have been many instances of terrible luck coming to anyone who owned the cursed mansion. Strange smells, pained screams, mysterious shadows, objects moving on their own, and full-body apparitions are just a few of the things people have reported experiencing.
Today the house serves as luxury apartments. When the current owners were renovating they found a mass grave hidden under the wooden floors, a grizzly reminder of the horrible terrors that took place behind the walls of the Lalaurie Mansion.
There's no denying that New Orleans is one of the most haunted cities in America, heck, even the hotels are haunted! If you're visiting this summer, you can't leave town without visiting at least one of these famously haunted and amazingly historic destinations.
Featured image: Clayton Shonkwiler, Flickr