Ghosts are my favorite people. Contrary to rumors spread by my enemies, I don’t technically believe in them. That being said, they’re the best. Buckle up! We’re going on a haunted tour of New Orleans!
Optimally, one explores ghost territory after night has fallen. But the tickets for the French Quarter Phantoms afternoon tour were half-price. No matter. At night I could return to the juiciest spots, and demand the spirits show themselves.
Our group met at Flanagan’s Pub, supposedly haunted by a previous owner, who killed herself on the premises. She haunts the men’s bathroom, because just being a ghost isn’t edgy enough for her (she seems annoying).
Our tour guide bubbled over with thespian cuteness – many flourishing gestures, a pause for laughter, the well-rehearsed dum-DUM- DUHM at the end of each story. I was the star pupil, my mouth agape and my eyes nowhere near any text messages. I bristled with contempt at those around me who acted differently. (Thomas took time away from his busy career as someone who majored in English to spread joy. Show some RESPECT.)
I’ll start with the most notorious ghosties and work my way down. Behold the house of LaLaurie, home of the infamous sadist Delphine Lalaurie and her unfortunate slaves . During a fire, evidence emerged that Delphine had kept her slaves in terrible conditions. How terrible? “There were holes in skulls, where a rough stick had been inserted to stir the brains” All in service of nothing but her own twisted kicks. Delphine supposedly escaped justice and ended up in Paris, probably still creepy but perhaps blending in a little better – the French invented sexual sadism, after all.
The Lalaurie mansion was divided up into cheap apartments, eventually filled with Italian laborers. Soon the Italian laborers got sick of all the ghosts and left. 1140 Royal Street bounced around, and most recently fell into the hands of a professional sports somebody. It is rumored that the inside of the house is now incredibly tacky. I have confirmed through my own research that purple drapes are indeed a prominent feature of the design.
(This is the property notorious dummy Nicholas Cage purchased, for 3+ million dollars, only to find himself under the famous Lalaurie curse.)
As an amuse bouche between ghost courses, our tour guide brought us to a building that houses at least several vampires.
Completed in 1753, the Ursuline Convent is the oldest building in New Orleans. It also boasts the oldest self-supporting staircase in the country, for all you staircase history buffs.
During the French colonial days, New Orleans had an even boozier, syphilis-ridden reputation than it does now. To temper the gene pool with women who weren’t prostitutes, colonials arranged to have fresh women imported from France.
When these new dames arrived, they came with small wooden trunks, called casquettes. This earned them the nickname “casket girls.” To ensure good behavior, the girls lived at the convent, under 24/7 nun surveillance.
Shortly after the casket girls showed up, everybody got tuberculosis, a disease that leaves you skinny, morose, and with less blood than before. Putting 2 and 2 together, the locals determined that those long, wooden boxes the girls brought with them seemed mighty suspect, and vampire-y. The caskette girls were driven out of town, on suspicion of being sexy French vampires.
But did they ever really leave? Observe the top bay windows! Always suspiciously shuttered closed! Pope’s orders?!
Mr. and Mrs. Hans Mueller lived in the house pictured below, on Ursuline Avenue, not too far from the convent. One night, evidently somewhat annoyed with his wife, Hans ground her into sausage. He kept the left over parts of her body in a trunk, and used it as a coffee table. This story is old, and probably not all-the-way true.
*We’re entering into new, shambolic territory, photo-wise. Below, actual photographs are not pictured. They are screen shots I took of Google earth street view.*
But wait! A few houses down, 735 Ursuline Ave witnessed a murder following the exact same formula, around the same date in October, 100-some odd years later. Our tour guide wouldn’t let us stand in front of the second house, for our own safety. Apparently the landlady has taken offence to tour guides publicizing the murder that took place under her nose.
Out of all the places on the tour, the Han Mueller house wins for creepy stank. If you’re ever in the area, the French Quarter Phantom tour comes with my infallible seal of approval.
Later that night, frothing with daiquiri, I conducted my own casual paranormal investigation. Strolling through the French Quarter, I spotted a ghost on the lit patio of an old mansion turned bed and breakfast. Upon further inspection, it was a collapsed patio umbrella. I wonder who left the patio light on? Maybe a ghost!