Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Phantoms of the French Quarter—Bourbon and Dauphine Streets

Named for the House of Bourbon, the ruling family of France in the 18th century, Bourbon Street has earned a reputation as the place to party in The Big Easy. Originally it was one of the premier addresses in the city. Dauphine Street is presumably named in honor of the Dauphin of France, the heir apparent to the French throne.

Bourbon Street

Lafitte Guest House (1003 Bourbon Street) Housed in an old mansion overlooking Bourbon Street and the historic and haunted Lafitte Blacksmith Shop across the street, the Lafitte Guest House is home to a handful of spirits. Some years ago, the inn’s owners were planning on going on a cruise. As they discussed the plans for the cruise, soot blew down the chimney of the room where they sat and spelled out the words “No Voyage” on the floor.

The spirit of a little girl has been seen by guests in the mirror of the second floor balcony. Guests will look at themselves in the mirror and see a little girl crying behind them. She may be the young daughter of the Gleises family who resided here in the mid-19th century. It is believed that she died during one of the many yellow fever epidemics that swept through New Orleans in the 1850s. The spirit of an anguished woman is believed to be the spirit of this little girl’s mother.

Sources
Kermeen, Frances. Ghostly Encounters: True Stories of America’s
     Haunted Inn and Hotels. NYC: Warner Books, 2002.
Sillery, Barbara. The Haunting of Louisiana. Gretna, LA: Pelican
     Publishing, 2001.
Turnage, Sheila. Haunted Inns of the Southeast. Winston-Salem,
     NC: John F. Blair, 2001.

Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop (941 Bourbon Street) See my coverage of Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop in “Encounter with a Gentleman—New Orleans.”

Café Lafitte in Exile (901 Bourbon Street) Opened in 1933, at the end of Prohibition, the Café Lafitte in Exile is now known as the oldest continuously operating gay bar in the United States. Two of the café’s most famous patrons, writers Tennessee Williams and Truman Capote, are believed to revisit this, one of their favorite haunts. While neither writer died in New Orleans, they have been seen within the walls of the café. Ken Summers notes that another, rather frisky spirit, known as Mister Bubbles, is known to pinch some patrons on their posteriors.

Sources
Richardson, Joy. “New Orleans’ Café Lafitte Haunted by Two
     Literary Greats.” Suite101.com. 12 July 2010.
Summer, Ken. Queer Hauntings: True Tales of Gay and Lesbian
     Ghosts. Maple Shade, NJ: Lethe Press, 2009.

Bourbon Pub (801 Bourbon Street) The Bourbon Pub and Parade is the largest gay bar in New Orleans and one of the premier sites for partying during the annual Southern Decadence, a six day gay and lesbian festival held over Memorial Day weekend. Patrons here have seen, heard, and occasionally felt spirits throughout the bar area. Some patrons have been surprised by the hollow sound of a thud accompanied by the inexplicable sensation of a cane hitting the bottom of their shoe.

Sources
Summer, Ken. Queer Hauntings: True Tales of Gay and Lesbian
     Ghosts. Maple Shade, NJ: Lethe Press, 2009.

Bourbon Heat (Tricou House) (711 Bourbon Street) A young woman who died in a fall on the stairs here is supposed to remain in this nightclub. Built in 1832 by Dr. Joseph Tricou, the doctor niece Penelope lost her footing on the stairs and tumbled to her death. Staff and patrons have heard disembodied footsteps throughout the building. A statue in the club’s courtyard is also said to move on its own volition.
 
The carriageway at the Tricou House, now Bourbon
Heat nightclub. Photo by Frances Johnston, 1937,
courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and
Photographs Division.
Sources
Klein, Victor C. New Orleans Ghosts. Chapel Hill, NC:
     Professional Press, 1993.
Smith, Katherine. Journey Into Darkness: Ghosts and
     Vampires of New Orleans. New Orleans, LA: De
     Simonin Publications, 1998.

Old Absinthe House (240 Bourbon Street) Jean Lafitte, the famous pirate who spent much time in this city, is believed to be the dashing apparition seen here. Originally built in the early 19th century, this building served as a warehouse and may have likely been frequented by this notorious pirate.
 
The Old Absinthe House, 1937, by Frances
Johnston. Courtesy of the Library of Congress,
Prints and Photographs Division.
Sources
Taylor, Troy. Haunted New Orleans. Charleston, SC:
     History Press, 2010.

Dauphine Street

Dauphine Orleans Hotel (415 Dauphine Street) Made up of a number of buildings with varying histories, the Dauphine Orleans Hotel has a wide variety of spirits haunting its corridors. The hotel includes the Audubon Cottage where naturalist John James Audubon painted his famous Birds of America series in the 1830s. In around the cottage a Civil War soldier has been spotted. The hotel bar, May Baily’s Place, occupies a former bordello and spiritual ladies of the evening still ply their trade in and around this area.

Sources
Brown, Alan. The Haunted South. Charleston, SC:
     History Press, 2014.
“The Dauphine Hotel is really haunted.” WGNO.
     30 October 2015.

Dauphine House Bed & Breakfast (1830 Dauphine Street) This small inn, built in 1860, hosts several spirits. Just after the owner purchased the home she glanced a couple on the stairs, “they wore clothes from the end of the 1800s…they were standing there smiling.” She thanked them for their home and explained that she would take care of the house and the couple disappeared. A guest at the inn who was distraught over a breakup reportedly encountered the couple a few times during her visit and felt they were attempting to comfort her.

Sources
“Haunts of the Dauphine House.” Ghost Eyes Blog. 15 January
     2010.
Smith, Terry L. and Mark Jean. Haunted Inns of America. Crane
     Hill Publishers, 2003.
Turnage, Sheila. Haunted Inns of the Southeast. Winston-Salem,
     NC: John F. Blair, 2001.

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