Thursday, September 15, 2016

Gardette LePretre Home - New Orleans, LA (The Sultan's Massacre Site)

715 Dauphine St.
New Orleans, LA 70116

            As extensive as the haunted stories are in New Orleans, so are the discrepancies. Whether it is due to time, overactive imaginations, or a tour guide trying to spice up their speeches for an extra buck, many of the ghastly and ghostly tales have changed over the years. Such may be the case with this next location, as several variants of the story have been told. I have tried to compile as much as I could from the most reliable of sources to give as accurate of an account as possible. As with the Quadroon home that I mentioned earlier, this next residence was another stop on that infamous haunted history tour that I took years ago, fueling my interest for all the macabre events that have taken place in the French Quarter and surrounding areas of the city. The home was simply known as the Sultan’s House.
            In 1825, a dentist by the name of Dr. Joseph Coulon Gardette built a grand home on the corner of Dauphine and Orleans Streets. At the time, this was said to be largest home in the area with an ornate design and decorative wrought iron work. In 1829, the home was then sold to a local merchant by the name of M. Jean Baptiste LaPretre. He lived here until the late 1870’s then financial issues began to strike many in the area. The declining economy forced many of the city’s elite to sell their grand homes. Mr. LaPretre decided that instead of selling his beloved home, he would begin renting it out to make a profit, while still being able to keep it. This proved not the greatest of ideas as his first tenant would make him wish he would have just sold his home like everyone else.

            The residence was rented out to a young Turkish man who claimed to be the brother of a Sultan, insinuating he was royalty from the Middle East. In turn, he also took the title of Sultan and ensured he was rightfully addressed as such. He brought with him an entourage that would make Floyd Mayweather Jr. blush, as he arrived with servants, guards and a haram of women. The Sultan
Photo of the home taken sometime in the 1930's.
also brought with him a vast fortune and was said to host some of the most elaborate parties in the city. His home literally became a fortress, closely guarded by security and closed off from wandering eyes. It is rumored that he would often have under-aged girls whisked into his home for his own “pleasure”, yet no one could ever verify it due to the tight security. Stories of wild orgies and other lewd events ran rampant within these walls.

            It has long been rumored that the real reason the Sultan had arrived in New Orleans with such a brute show of force was that he had fled his native country with the wife of his brother, the true Sultan. One can only assume that there is no hiding from someone with so much power, especially when you happened to run off with his wife. It did not take very long for big brother to wash ashore on the mighty Mississippi and his wrath was quickly felt by all who partied hard at 715 Dauphine Street.
            On what was supposed to be a quiet morning, neighbors noticed muddy footprints leading to the home and something strange at the front door. Upon further examination, they notice quite a bit of blood seeping from underneath the door. As they opened the door, they were not prepared for the grizzly sites they were about to see.  After picking up a single red slipper off the ground, the entrants move to the next room to find that every single one of the occupants, including five young girls, had
Close up of the intricate wrought-iron work.
all been brutally murdered by decapitation! The scene was said to have been so intense, the victims were unable to be identified, as they were chopped into so many pieces! Coagulated puddles of blood collected on the floor, concentrating between the floorboards. Reports even tell that the crime scene looked more like a meat plant, as limbs and organs were literally thrown around the home and on the staircase! It was apparent that the level of violence inflicted was to send a message, not simply a random killing.

            Amongst the smell of spilled wine, stale incense and congealed blood, one thing was missing and that was the feaux-Sultan himself. Further examination of the home proved to be unsuccessful so the search party moved to the courtyard. Noticing a glove sticking out from a fresh mound of dirt, they discovered that the Turkish man had been brutally beaten and buried alive in the backyard. To mark the burial, the true Sultan planted a date tree and placed a plaque which read:
“The justice of heaven is satisfied, and the date tree shall grow on the traitor's tomb.”

            The tree is said to have grown there for quite some time and was morbidly known as the “tree of death.” Records show that the tree no longer exist on the property, yet the spirits of those murdered that gruesome night are still plentiful. Locals claim that once the home was converted into apartments, much of the ghostly activity went away, yet that may very well be said to deter paranormal enthusiasts from bothering the current tenants.
            What makes the story even more unique is that some tell of a similar tale taking place much longer ago. In the book History of Louisiana published in the mid 1800’s, Charles Gayarre shares a story that was told to him by a much older man some thirty years prior to writing his book. According the book, the legend of the murdered Sultan took place around 1727 on the same piece of property. It’s this near ancient story that really throws a monkey wrench in the wheel, as the times change the entire course of events. If this actually did take place in the 1700’s, then it would have obviously been unable to occur in the current Gardette LePretre House. This only makes the story that much more mysterious. Could it be a simple confusion over dates, unorganized property records, a simple “B.S.” story or something much more complex?

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