The Most Haunted Place in Louisiana – The Story of the LaLaurie Mansion

At twilight, gas lamps twinkle, hanging from historic galleries along Royal Street in the French Quarter. Dark skies provide little relief from the heat and humidity, but somehow add to the magical atmosphere that is New Orleans. The wrought-iron balconies appear to be frozen in time, showcasing ferns and greenery, and you feel as if you’ll encounter the supernatural at every turn.

The most haunted place in Louisiana

LaLaurie Mansion New Orleans Louisiana
Image source: Reading Tom – CC BY 2.0 / WikiCommons.

On the corner of Governor Nicholls Street, there is a gray three-storey estate, two hundred years old, surrounded by various groups of tourists with guides. They all listen intently, looking at the silent house, wondering if they will see apparitions as their guides weave a horrific story. The setting is the LaLaurie Mansion, and its horrific past is why it is the subject of paranormal investigations and why it holds the imagination of everyone who hears its story.

LaLaurie Mansion in New Orleans

Neon pubs and bars in the French Quarter, New Orleans, USA
Image credit: f11photo/Shutterstock.

LaLaurie Mansion is a privately owned residence located in the heart of New Orleans’ French Quarter. When I first heard the tale, I thought it was something made up to scare people, but after some research, I realized it was one of those pieces of history that makes you stop and wonder what is wrong with the human race.

The neoclassical building on the site dates from 1838, but another house existed before that. This house was owned by Mrs. Delphine MacCarthy LaLaurie, who moved here in 1832 with her third husband, Dr. Leonard Lewis Nicholas LaLaurie. In 1834, she hosted a party during which a fire broke out in the kitchen. A local newspaper reported that firefighters discovered seven enslaved people, “rather horribly mutilated,” locked inside the building. The same newspaper also said that townspeople were so angry over the reports that at least 4,000 people gathered outside the property and then looted what remained of the burned house.

Dr. and Mrs. LaLaurie had a good reputation

Madame lalaurie mansion new orleans louisiana
Image source: Reading Tom – CC BY 2.0 / Public Domain / WikiCommons / Wealth of Geeks.

It is documented that the fire was started by an enslaved cook who was chained to the stove, and this was her suicidal attempt to free herself from the Lalauries. Assumptions and blame have been placed on Madame LaLaurie – especially since there is evidence that she had previously been accused of cruelty towards her enslaved workers. However, not much was said about her husband, who was also present at the ceremony. Cruel medical experiments in the name of science were often performed before the twentieth century. Some people speculate that the real culprit here may have been Dr. LaLaurie. However, that does not justify his wife’s blind eye, if that was the case.

A legacy of bad luck

Nicolas Cage movies
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The LaLauries fled New Orleans and never returned. Madame LaLaurie and her husband died in Paris in 1849. They were never persecuted for their crimes. The property in New Orleans was sold to Charles Cavin and rebuilt in 1838. Over the next 100 years, it had a variety of uses, including a school, conservatory, furniture store, and apartment building.

In 2007, actor Nicolas Cage purchased the property before it was forced into foreclosure just two years later. Another story I heard about the actor indicates that he went to a fortune teller who advised him to build a pyramid-shaped shrine in a local cemetery to appease the spirits of the house. He still owns the grave site but not the house. The people who own the property now do not always live there and have a caretaker and housekeeper who look after the house.

real or fantasy

Kathy Bates Delphine LaLaurie American Horror Story
Image credit: 20th TV.

Of course, the true history of LaLaurie Palace is so fictional that it makes people question reality. It, in turn, inspires the creative people among us to embellish the facts and create new stories that fascinate us, but sometimes, it can be difficult to distinguish between what is real and what is not. The house has been the subject of paranormal investigation shows, documentaries, and books, both nonfiction and fiction.

In 2021, screenwriters Chad and Carrie Hayes, who people may know from Conjuration Announced a new series titled lalaury palace, But everything is still under wraps about how things will go. However, if the name “Madame LaLaurie” sounds familiar, you may recognize it from Season 3 The terrifying story of American witches -The 19th century socialite appears as a character played by Kathy Bates.

Ghost stories

Inside LaLaurie Palace
Image credit: Maskun.

Thanks to its sordid history, you would expect many stories of ghost encounters, and the reports do not disappoint. Various tales of stalking began shortly after the LaLauries left. Local residents reported that they heard screaming coming from the house late at night.

Chris Falvey of Unique NOLA Tours says many people believe they saw an enslaved man ascend the stairs. Another recurring story from people who lived on the estate suggests that there were instances when looking in a mirror, the viewer saw not themselves but someone they believed to be Madame LaLaurie. “There are random dark shades seen throughout the house, and the current owners now have a photo of one of them,” he shares.

Minor caretakers and residents share their stories

Gates to Hell, Ghosts of LaLaurie Palace
Image credit: Travel Channel.

The photo was featured on the paranormal investigation programme Gates to hellOn the Travel Channel. While the figure is indistinguishable, it appears to have two sets of eyes peering out of it. Lisa Hadley, the mansion’s current housekeeper, says she avoids entering the house at night. “I’m afraid. You just have a weird vibe,” she says.

Her mother, Carol Williams, a carer, has lived on the property for 13 years. “I don’t like being in the kitchen alone,” she says. “This door randomly opens and closes on its own. I feel like we’re disturbing something. I don’t know what.”

“And you can watch the door handle turn on its own,” Ms. Hadley adds. The housekeeper also says she saw a little girl standing in the window. Annie, another resident from the 1960s, says she saw a little girl sitting on the roof. Like the first people to report hearing screams from the property in the 1800s, Annie also had a habit of waking up at night hearing screams.

Is the LaLaurie Mansion really haunted?

The Gates of Hell have appeared in the most haunted place in Louisiana, the LaLaurie Mansion and its ghosts
Image credit: Travel Channel.

Equipment on Gates to hell He discovered some sort of human figure within the area where Annie’s previous apartment was located. When presenter Katrina Weidmann leaned forward to touch where the model was supposed to be, she said she felt something cold. While there are plenty of accounts of home stalking, there are bound to be skeptics and skeptics. However, regardless of your beliefs, the story of the LaLaurie Mansion will stay with you for life.


Winter irrigation

Ree Winter is a freelance journalist specializing in food, travel and lifestyle. She is an Australian who enjoys traveling the world and currently calls New Orleans home. Her byline appears in The Thrillist, Inside the Magic, The Streamable, Mashed, The Daily Meal, Apartment Advisor, and Weekend Notes. Fellow Australians may have seen her work in print in The Geelong Advertiser and the Docklands News. Additionally, she follows her passions in history and travel and will happily admit that she is a crazy cat lady.


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