Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Cafe Vermillionville - Lafayette, LA (Don't Mess With My Toot-Toot)

1304 West Pinhook Rd.
Lafayette, LA 70503

            One of the things I love most about Louisiana is that no matter what nook of the state you are in, just when you think you are in the most secluded area possible, there is a good restaurant probably with a couple of miles from you. Let’s face it, we Louisianans love to eat! Sure, we may not all be blessed with the physique of Adonis due to this but the food is just too damn good to pass up! In the heart of Acadiana, lies the city of Lafayette, an area still heavily enriched with Cajun culture. Where many of the old timers still speak French on a daily basis, Lafayette is one of the last places in the state to experience this dying culture. 
            Here in Lafayette, you will find a great restaurant with quite an interesting history. Café Vermillionville sits only several hundred yards from the banks of Coulee des Poches, which served as a major waterway for local Indians of the Atakapa tribe. As this method of transportation grew more and more viable, the local area began to grow with small businesses such as mills, saloons, and inns.

            The structure that is now known as Café Vermillionville was initially built as a small inn for the water-faring travelers. The exact date of the building’s construction is unknown but property records estimate it to be around the mid 1850’s by Swedish businessman Henry Louis Monnier.
Café Vermillion circa 1935

            During the Civil War, the small inn was occupied by the Federal army. It is rumored that during this time, an incident occurred where a Union soldier was shot and killed by a Frenchman for paying a little too much attention to his wife. Guess it was like the old Cajun song “Don’t Mess with My Toot Toot” whose lyrics go a little something like this:

“You can look as much, but if you much as touch, you gonna have yourself a case, I’m gonna break yo face!”

            On May 30, 1882, the building and property was sold to M.E. Girard for the mere sum of six hundred and seventy dollars! Following the years to come, the property would be handed down from generation to generation until 1939, when Maurice Heymann bought the property which had now become a nursery. After an attempt to destroy the historic location, Horace Rickey, Sr. purchased the building with the hopes of not only saving it, but also to restore it to its former beauty.
            Following the years to come, numerous renovations would be conducted, highlighting some of the unique original characteristics such as the large cypress floors, original molding, and even the bousillage-filled walls, which is a mixture of moss, mud and horse hair. Consider it Cajun insulation! As time passed, additional renovations and add-ons would be made, expanding the overall size of the
Example of a bousillage wall
building and ultimately transforming this old inn into the fine dining establishment that it is today.

            Haunted tales of ghostly encounters at Café Vermillionville have floated around, literally, for quite some time. As mentioned earlier, a Union soldier was murdered here and his spirit is said to still wander around. The most active haunting here is said to be that of a young girl. Mischievous in nature, she has scattered items all over one of the rooms that had been boarded up as well as ripping several pictures off of the walls. Neither the staff nor owners of the restaurant have ever felt a threat here. They have begun to accept the strange occurrences and even have started to embrace this young spirit, considering her a part of their family during their twenty years in operation.
            Our investigation of the café was quite interesting. Early in the night one of the investigators heard an audible whisper behind them. When they turned around, no one was present. A later EVP session proved to be uneventful so the team decided to attempt some interaction with a flashlight, using the on/off mechanism as a way for the spirit to attempt to communicate with us. A few questions were asked, along with requests to turn the light on to no avail. An investigator then asked, “Does your name start with an A?” Still, no response occurred. After going down the alphabet, the investigator gets to the letter R. Suddenly, the flashlight turned on then off! Next, investigators began listing several names that started with an R. Once again, the flashlight turns on then off when asked if the spirit’s name was “Rebecca”. Was this definitive proof that this was the spirit’s name? Of course not, but it was definitely coincidental. To judge for yourself, you can watch a brief video of the flashlight interaction by clicking HERE. Now, we must attempt to search through years of records and property transfers to see if we can find a former resident, preferably a young girl, named Rebecca to coincide with the years of a young girl being seen here.
            Outsiders do not often realize the amount of work and detail we put into such an investigation. As mentioned, hardcore skeptics love to lump investigators into just one big group of “ghost busters” and pseudo-scientists. This is far from the truth, as many us of go to great lengths at validating claims and decades of reports. In addition, did we say that all of this work is done free of charge to the clients?

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