Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Haunted Louisiana

A selection of 10 haunted places from around Louisiana.

Antoine’s Restaurant
713 St. Louis Street
New Orleans
Antoine's Restaurant, 2007. Photo by Infrogmation,
courtesy of Wikipedia.

Antoine Alciatore, like so many Europeans at that time, dreamed of making it big in the United States and immigrated in 1838 to make good on those dreams. After a couple years struggling in New York City, he set his sights on that most French of cities, New Orleans, and he opened his own restaurant, Antoine’s. In 1868, the restaurant moved to its current location that now boasts 14 unique dining rooms. Alciatore left New Orleans in 1874 bound for Marseilles where he died; while his beloved restaurant was left in the hands of his son and his family has continued to own and run the restaurant. Antoine continues to return to check up on this famed New Orleans institution and he continues to be seen in the Japanese and Mystery Dining Rooms. Other specters in 19th century clothing have been seen peering from the mirrors in the washrooms as well.

Beauregard Parish Jail
Courthouse Square
DeRidder
Beauregard Parish Jail. 2005. Photo by DanielCD, courtesy of
Wikipedia.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, jails and prisons were often built using powerful architecture to convey the strength and power of the justice system and as a deterrence. The squat, Gothic revival jailhouse with thick walls on courthouse square in DeRidder is a marvelous example and one of the few, if the only, jail to utilize “collegiate Gothic,” a style popular with college and university buildings. Certainly, it looks haunted and it apparently is. Figures have been seen throughout the jail by police and inmates (the building closed to inmates in 1984). Louisiana Spirits Paranormal Investigations conducted two investigations in the old jail that produced EVPs and some photographic anomalies. The ghosts are believed to be the spirits of two murderers hung in the staircase of the jail. This YouTube clip provides a great look at the interior of the jail.

C. E. Byrd High School
3201 Line Avenue
Shreveport
C.E. Byrd High School, 2009. Photo by Allison Foley, courtesy of Wikipedia.

When Dr. Clifton Ellis Byrd, superintendant of schools for Caddo Parish, died a few months after the high school named for him opened, his body lay in state in the foyer of the school as students were marched past the open casket; probably not the most auspicious beginning for this new school. While there are no reports of the apparition of Dr. Byrd, two students who died in the school have been seen. A young woman who drowned in the school’s pool, which as a result was emptied and turned into a dance studio and gym, has been seen in the area still attired in her old-fashioned bathing suit. Shortly before World War II, a young Junior ROTC cadet was mysteriously found shot in the school’s sub-basement, his uniformed spirit has also been reported.

Chretien Point Plantation
665 Chretien Point Road
Sunset
Chretien Point Plantation, 1940. Photo by Richard Koch
for the Historic American Building Survey (HABS). Courtesy of
the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Throughout Louisiana history and paranormal history, the name of pirate Jean Lafitte appears quite frequently. It is of no surprise that Lafitte figures into the history and haunting of Chretien Point Plantation. Hyppolite Chretien, the plantation’s owner, was a friend and associate of Lafitte who used the plantation to do business. Upon Hyppolite’s death, his wife, Felicite, took over running the plantation. The temptation for one pirate was too much and one night he stormed into the home attempting to rob the mistress of the house. Felicite met him on the stairs with a necklace in hand and as the pirate approached she shot him in the head with the pistol she had concealed in her skirts. The pirate’s spirit, now known as Robert (pronounced in the French manner, “roh-BAIR”), still roams the house and plays with coins left by guests. Felicite and some of her children have also been seen roaming the grounds of the plantation.

Front Street
Natchitoches
Front Street, Natchitoches, 2009. Photo by Billy Hathorn, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Founded in 1714 by the French, Natchitoches was named for a local Native American tribe. Front Street features a number of historic buildings, the oldest general store in the state and an apparition in a Civil War uniform. According to Roger Manley in Weird Louisiana, there is some question as to the identity of the spirit or even whether the uniform is Confederate or Union. The best candidate for the identity of this ghost may be Brevet Brigadier General Napoleon McLaughlin who was part of the Union occupation forces. He was gunned down by outlaws on Front Street in 1872.

Kenilworth Plantation
2931 Bayou Road
St. Bernard
Kenilworth Plantation, 2010. Photo by Infrogmation, courtesy of Wikipedia.

One of the most interesting features of Kenilworth Plantation, built is 1818, is how it was built: without nails, using only pegs and mortising. It is here that a pair of antebellum lovers stroll, both missing their heads.

Laurel Valley Plantation Village
595 Louisiana Highway 308
Thibodeaux
The Sugar Refinery Building at Laurel Valley Plantation, 1979.
Photo by Jet Lowe for the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER).
Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Just outside of Thibodeaux, located in the “sugar bowl” a group of parishes known for their sugar plantations, is the Laurel Valley Plantation Village, one of the largest remaining sugar plantations in the country. Among the buildings still standing are many of the workers cabins, a school and church and the remains of a sugar refinery. A small museum has been installed in the village general store. The “Sugar Bowl” was the scene of a strike of sugar workers in 1887 the devolved into the Thibodeaux Massacre where between 30 and 300 mostly African-American strikers were killed. While I have not seen anything yet that specifically links the strike and massacre with Laurel Valley, it’s not hard to assume that workers from there were involved and possibly killed. Perhaps these may be among the spirits that have been witnessed in the plantation village. Reports include voices, apparitions and the smell of food cooking.

Old Louisiana State Capitol
100 North Boulevard
Baton Rouge
Old Louisiana State Capitol, 2009. Photo by Avazina, courtesy of Wikipedia.

When the state capitol was moved from New Orleans to Baton Rouge in 1846, the city donated land atop a bluff over the Mississippi for the capitol building. Architect James Dakin designed a Neo-Gothic building very much unlike the other state capitols which were often modeled on the U.S. Capitol building in Washington. The magnificent crenellated and be-towered structure was used as a prison and garrison for soldiers under the city’s Union occupation and during this time it caught fire twice leaving it a soot-stained shell by the war’s end. The building was reconstructed in 1882 but abandoned in 1932 for Governor Huey Long’s new state capitol.

Even before the capitol burned during the war, there was a ghost gliding through its halls. Pierre Couvillon, a legislator representing Avoyelles Parish, enraged by his colleagues’ corruption, suffered a heart attack and died. Though he was buried in his home parish, his spirit was said to reside in the capitol; perhaps checking up on his colleagues. When the capitol building underwent restoration in the 1990s, the spirit or spirits in the building were stirred up and activity has increased. The activity includes doors opening and closing on their own, shadow figures and security alarms being tripped.

Pirate’s Alley
New Orleans
Pirate's Alley, between 1920-6. Photo by Arnold Genthe,
courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs
Division.

In the hours just before or after sunset in the French Quarter, a monk is heard and sometimes seen slowly walking and singing parts of the Latin mass where Pirate’s Alley intersects with Chartres Street. This is just behind St. Louis Cathedral where St. Anthony’s Garden is now located. The monk is the spirit of Pere Dagobert de Longuory reliving one of his greatest acts. In 1769, when the Spanish took control of the city five insurgents were tried and executed, their bodies left to rot where they were shot by a firing squad. Pere Dagobert miraculously retrieved the bodies of the five, performed a mass for them and buried the bodies all under the noses of the Spanish authorities who had forbid such action. According to Jeff Dwyer, Pere Dagobert’s spirit is one of the mst frequently witnessed ghosts in New Orleans.

St. Louis Cemetery No. 1
499 Basin Street
New Orleans
St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, 2003. Photo by Flipper9, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1, the oldest of three such named cemeteries in New Orleans, opened as part of a new urban design in 1789, a year after a great fire that destroyed much of the city. It was opened as the city’s main burial ground and has seen a parade of famous citizens buried there including the famous “Voodoo Queen,” Marie Laveau, whose grave has become a site of pilgrimage for practitioners and tourists alike; Paul Morphy, the great chess player who was associated with the haunted Beauregard-Keyes House; and possibly Delphine LaLaurie, the former mistress of a house on Royal Street that is haunted. The spirit of a woman wearing a “tignon” or a seven-knotted handkerchief has been seen in and around the cemetery and identified as Marie Laveau.

Legends from the 1930s speaks of cab-drivers avoiding the cemetery for fear of picking up a disappearing hitchhiker who appeared outside the cemetery. It seems that St. Louis No. 1 is home to many restless spirits who are seen walking through the labyrinth of above-ground crypts. One spirit of a man is even said to stop visitors and inquire as to the location of his grave.

Shreveport Municipal Memorial Auditorium
705 Elvis Presley Avenue
Shreveport
Shreveport Municipal Memorial Auditorium, 1995. Photo by Dtobias, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Certainly the great Elvis Presley could have hardly imagined that Grand Avenue, just outside the Municipal Memorial Auditorium in Shreveport where he played one of his first gigs, would one day bear his name. Indeed, this venue, which hosted the Louisiana Hayride radio show, provided a springboard for the careers of many musical legends including Hank Williams and Johnny Cash. As with any theatre worth its salt, “The Muni” is haunted. The lights and fly system (the system of ropes and battens that raise and lower scenery and lights) seem to have a mind of their own while the theatre is plagued by disembodied footsteps, clapping, laughing and coughing. Perhaps a spectral audience is restlessly waiting for another phenomenal musical performance.

Sources
     Spirits Paranormal Investigations. Accessed 8 January 2011.
     Spirits Paranormal Investigations. Accessed 8 January 2011.
Duvernay, Adam. “Several Baton Rouge sites said to be haunted.”
     The Daily Reveille. 27 October 2009.
Dwyer, Jeff. Ghost Hunter’s Guide to New Orleans. Gretna, LA:
     Pelican, 2007.
Ghosts of St. Louis Cemetery No. 1.” Ghost Eyes: Most Haunted
     Places in America Blog. Accessed 11 January 2011.
History. Antoine’s Restaurant. Accessed 8 January 2011.
Kliebert, Stephen. “US: The Thibodeaux Massacre of 1887.”
     Libcom.org. Accessed 11 January 2011.
Manley, Roger. Weird Louisiana. NYC: Sterling Publishers,
     2010.
Natchitoches, Louisiana. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.
     Accessed 10 January 2011.
Norman, Michael and Beth Scott. Historic Haunted America.
     NYC: Tor Books, 1995.
Old Louisiana State Capitol. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.
     Accessed 11 January 2011.
St. Bernard Parish Tourist Commission. St. Bernard Brochure.
     Visitbernard.com. Accessed 10 January 2011.
Saint Louis Cemetery. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.
     Accessed 11 January 2011.
     Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 11 January 2011.
Taylor, Troy. Beyond the Grave: The History of America’s Most
     Haunted Graveyards. Alton, IL: Whitechapel Press, 2001.
Thibodeaux, Louisiana. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.
     Accessed 11 January 2011.
Turnage, Sheila. Haunted Inns of the Southeast. Winston-Salem,
     NC: John F. Blair, 2001.

9 comments:

  1. Awesome! Very informative! I can't wait to explore all these places. William Faulkner lived on Pirate's Alley. I wonder if his ghost ever says hello to the monk.

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    Replies
    1. I'm related to the person who haunts the old capital

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  2. Caroline, I seem to remember that Faulkner's ghost hangs around his old digs in Pirate's Alley...I'll check into it.

    Of course, that really does bring up an interesting point: do ghosts from different time periods interact?

    P.S. I still want to come see you in NOLA!

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  3. Beautiful! Louisiana has some amazing architecture. Some of these buildings are utterly unique. I hadn't heard most of these stories. The Beauregard Parish Jail is my favorite.

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  4. I live in DeRidder and have been to the old hanging jail, as we call it, and it surely has and omnious unwelcoming feeling. When we first moved there in 2004 I was nine and I knew that something was up with it. It surely is a place that you don't want to get caught around alone and in the dark. Truly scary.

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    Replies
    1. I grew up in De Ridder and remember the old jail very well. My father was once City Manager there and I recall him telling me that prisoners were once hung in the top of the building. I've never been inside. It's too creepy looking from the outside!!

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  5. i recently jumped the wall into st louis #1
    just to take some pics around six thirty or so around dusk & found myself in a lil maze but when i reached the rear as i turned down the walk space there was someone or something that wanted me to know that i wasnt alone
    it wasnt until i reached home that i read all of the warnings about the place ..& im not supesticious but that place is realy realy haunted ..

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  6. I live in Shreveport and I have heard stories of the Municipal Auditorum but have yet to tour it. I plan on doing it soon though. There are many other places in or around Shreveport that are haunted as well. You can find some of them on my site at http://louisianaparanorma.wix.com/paranormal

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  7. my brother works in municipal audutorim and he took me to see the ghost(or try to see the ghost) and when i walked in some thing pulled my hair . when i went to the bath room,to fix my long brown hair , my hair looked black in the mioror. i looked in all the miorors and my hair was black. (after 10 minuts of freaking out) i cought up to my brother and and he ashed me if the ghost died my hair black while i was in the bathroom and i said yes . he dident seem suprised and he simply said that the ghost dose that to his faverote people (btw the black faded when we left)

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