(c) DJT 2019

Haunted Hotels and Ghosts of New Orleans

The Old Absinthe House (c) DJT 2019

New Orleans must be the most haunted city in the USA. It is also the centre of Voodoo and hoodoo in the USA. The surrounding bayous are inhabited by alligators that remind you that you are on the edge of a subtropical wilderness, in spite of New Orleans' long history.

The Haunted Hotel at 623 Ursulines, sometimes referred to as the Haunted Hotel New Orleans, claims to be the oldest and most infamous haunted hotel in New Orleans, that ghosts are seen every day and that most guests see at least one ghost. It was built in 1829 but most hauntings may be by the victims of an axe murderer, and perhaps the mad axeman himself, who was the hotel's handyman in 1919. In spite of people knowing where he lived and what he did for a living, his identity seems to be unknown and he escaped justice. It is said that he did not kill anyone if he could hear jazz music playing. In the lobby, an axe, discovered in the hotel's attic, is displayed. The hotel admits that some guests do not get out alive - way to attract customers! Regretably, room service is not available because - LOL - "The bellhop was murdered".

The "convento" in the nearby Hotel Villa Convento, on Ursulines Avenue, may be misleading. The establishment is now absolutely respectable but a ghostly Madame still knocks on doors to make sure that her "girls" are alright. Unseen children are sometimes heard playing and laughing. The Prince Conti Hotel has a bar that is also the haunt of a one-time Madame.

The historic Hotel Monteleone on Royal Street has at least twelve ghosts. The elevator sometimes stops at the wrong floor, then door opens to reveal ghostly children. By the way, the thirteenth floor is numbered fourteen. Superstition may be forgiven in a haunted hotel. Also on Royal Street, phantom yellow fever victims are allegedly still trying to recover in the Andrew Jackson Hotel French Quarter. Can spectral yellow fever infect the living? I hope not. Anyway, it would have to be spread by ghostly mosquitoes.

Unearthly celebrations have been seen in the New Orleans Courtyard Hotel. Ghostly parties are also witnessed in The Lookout Inn. One of the ghosts runs a bath in one of the guest rooms. Does the spirit draw the bath for itself or for you? Find out if you are brave enough but first watch the remake of Thirteen Ghosts.

Mysterious sightings take place in the Hotel St Pierre French Quarter, including the ghost of a Confederate soldier seen in what used to be the slaves' quarters. The Bourbon Orleans Hotel is haunted by phantom nuns, a girl dancing by herself and the spirit of another Confederate soldier. The Dauphine Orleans Hotel is the haunt of ghostly honky tonk girls and more Confederate soldiers. In the Audubon Cottages of Dauphine Street, earthbound Confederate soldiers even retune your radio so that they can listen to country music. Of course. Perhaps they are from Nashville Tennessee.

A little girl looking for her grandmother is sometimes encountered in the Place D'Armes Hotel. Ghostly music is also sometimes heard.

The spirits of a nun and the happy children in her care are encountered in St Vincent's Guest House. Think Madeline and Miss Clavel. The historic Le Pavillon Hotel naturally has its ghosts, including those of a lost teenager and an old married couple, as well as a brazen young man whose face may appear at your window, no matter what floor you are on.

Numerous strange phenomena have been witnessed in the Maison St Charles. The ghost of the blues pianist Isidore "Tuts" Washington is sometimes seen in the bar of the The Pontchartrain Hotel. I think that his name inspired that of the character "Toots" Sweet in the wonderful horror movie Angel Heart. Maison St Charles and The Pontchartrain Hotel are both on St Charles Avenue.

The ghosts of a lady called Diane and a manservant called Gerald are seen in the W New Orleans - French Quarter hotel (formerly called the Hotel de la Poste). Also on Chartres Street, Le Richelieu in the French Quarter is the haunt of phantom Spanish soldiers who were executed on the site.

Red handprints on beds are just some of the inexplicable occurrences in the French Market Inn, which include shadowy spectres and the sound of a dumb waiter.

Haunted Bars and Restaurants in New Orleans

The historic (1880) Commander's Palace restaurant specialises in Creole cuisine. It was founded by Emile Commander and he still hovers about the place, making sure that everything is alright. Across the road is the equally historic and very haunted Lafayette Cemetery No 1, a must-see for tourists even if they aren't interested in ghosts.

Antoine's Restaurant is even older than Commander's Palace and has served Creole dishes since 1840. It also serves spirits (pun intended) and they include the spectre of Antoine Alciatore.

In Muriel's Jackson Square Restaurant, they still set a table for the ghost of a former owner, Pierre Antoine Lepardi Jourdan.

The famous Bottom of the Cup Tea Room featured in the horror movie Angel Heart. It is haunted by an "octoroon" woman and psychic readings are available.

The buccaneer Jean Lafitte (he actually spelled his name Jean Laffite) still celebrates in the Old Absinthe House. He also haunts Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop Bar, along with the ghost of a Voodoo priestess, perhaps Marie Laveau herself. Pat O'Brien's bar has its ghosts.

Other Hauntings and Ghosts of New Orleans

The New Orleans area, especially the old French Quarter and the city's surrounding bayous and plantations, are densely populated by ghosts and, allegedly, even has werewolves and vampires.

Native American beliefs were the first to influence the area. The sacred emerald-headed King Snake, dwells in a crystal cave off the southern coast of the United States. Sometimes it rises to the surface, where its brilliant greenish light can be seen from far away.

New Orleans and its environs has for a long time been associated with hoodoo and Voodoo (Vodoun, Voudou or Vodou). You will definitely want to visit the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum (there is a maximum entrance fee of $7 as at March 2019, varyingly less for seniors, high school students and under twelves). Although the terms Voodoo and hoodoo are sometimes interchangable in common usage, Hoodoo is relates to Louisiana's folk charms and magical spells. Voodoo, however, is a true religion, originally developed by slaves in France's Caribbean possessions, especially Haiti (once a French colony). It was originally inspired by incompletely remembered African religions and Dahomey is said by some to be the true home of Voodoo, or Vodoun or Vodou as it is sometimes known. Authentic Voodoo spells, love potions, gris-gris bags, Voodoo dolls and ritual requirements can be purchased from Voodoo shops such as Voodoo Authentica (612 Rue Dumaine) and Erzulie's Authentic Voodoo store (807 Rue Royal), both in the French Quarter.

In St Louis Cemetery No 1, the Laveau-Glapion tomb, designed in the Greek revival style, is protected by a crow said to be possessed by the spirit of Voodoo priestess Marie Laveau. It is said that if a Voodoo offering is made at the tomb, the supplicant's wish will be granted by the spirit of Marie Laveau. Lake Pontchartrain is where she performed Voodoo rituals on St John's Eve. Her ghost also haunts the Old Absinthe House. Congo Square is where her Voodoo dances took place, and African inspired drumming and dancing are still performed there on Sundays.

The first licensed pharmacy in the USA is now the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum. It was founded by Louis Joseph Dufilho, Jr. The museum is haunted by the ghost of Dr James Dupas. Some say that the subjects of his experiments were pregnant slaves and that he was a bokor, a Voodoo black magician.

The famous Lafayette Cemetery No 1 has been shown in a number of Hollywood movies, including the remake of Cat People, starring Nastassia Kinski, and Charles Bronson's The Streetfighter, (aka Hard Times). The cemetery is said to be extremely haunted. Commander's Palace, the haunted restaurant, is just across the road.

The ghost of Renato Beluche, a one-time buccaneer, haunts Madame John's Legacy. It is now a museum which featured in the film Interview with the Vampire. However, New Orleans has had real as well as fictional vampires, and perhaps still does. In the French Quarter, a vampire in 19th century clothing stalks female victims. The Old Ursuline Convent was the nest of vampires who spent their days in coffins on the third floor and their nights drinking the blood of the terrified inhabitants of the French Quarter. The convent is now a museum.

In Louisiana, werewolves are sometimes called lougarous or rougarous, from the French word for werewolves, loups-garous.

Even cannibals once dwelled in New Orleans. A butcher who made sausages from human meat lived in one of the houses on Ursulines Avenue, or so it is said. In this case, some of the cannibals were, admittedly, unaware of their abomination.

Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre is haunted by both former staff members and theatre afficionados. The ghost of an army sergeant may be seen in Fort Pike. The Cabildo, the haunt of many ghosts, is where the Louisiana Purchase was signed. A one-time janitor still does his job in the Presbytère.

Any haunted city has a phantom monk and a ghostly black hound. The spectre of a Capuchin monk is seen in Pirate Alley (Pirates Alley), while the St Roch Cemetery is the haunt of a ghostly black dog.


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