Friday, September 30, 2016

Place d'Armes Hotel - New Orleans, LA (The Spectral Girl)

625 St. Anne St.
New Orleans, LA 70116
29.958753,-90.063406


            Walking around the French Quarter, as with any tourist location, you usually cannot walk more than twenty feet without running into a gift shop. As you look around for your Mardi Gras beads, shot glasses and offensive t-shirts, you will probably see a plethora of paintings and postcards showing the iconic Jackson Square. This picturesque view of the Saint Louis Cathedral and the gated square is probably the most photographed area of the city.
            Jackson Square was designed in 1721 and was mimicked after the famous Place des Vosges in Paris, France. When the small village of New Orleans was initially designed, it was built on a grid system. The center block was used for military parades and other public gatherings so this area was called the Place d’Armes or Place of the Arms. As the city expanded, the Place d’Armes continued to remain as the central hub, with all buildings radiating from it. By 1815, the land was renamed Jackson’s Square, after the city’s famed hero, Andrew Jackson. From here, decorative touches would be added to the area by the previously mentioned Baroness Micaela Almonester-Pontalba, such as the ornate shrubbery and wrought-iron fences. Today, Jackson Square is visited by thousands of people a day and is a prime place to catch interesting street performers, buy one-of-a-kind artwork and get your fortune read by many of the individuals claiming to be psychic. For more information regarding that subject, please refer back to the Bottom of the Cup Tearoom blog.

Pat O'Briens Bar - New Orleans, LA (Home of the Hurricane)

718 St. Peter St.
New Orleans, LA 70116
29.958114,-90.065397


            Make no bones about it, New Orleans is in no short supply of bars; ranging from the most ragged watering holes around to the most exquisite martini lounges. I’ve often wondered how much alcohol is actually consumed on an average Saturday night in New Orleans. I’m sure the dollar amount and the sheer volume would be staggering. Even more interesting, would be to find out how much of that alcohol is actually kept down and figure up a percentage of ultimately digested booze. I’ve woke up many a Sunday mornings in New Orleans, giving myself the same speech of, “If I just survive today, I promise I will never drink again!” As with many of us, that solemn vow normally last a whole day or so, quickly searching for the hair of the dog that bit me! I’ve always loved that old saying. In a completely unrelated piece of useless information, I once read that the famous saying came from centuries ago, when individuals were bitten by a rabid dog. At the time, they believed the cure was to take a pinch of the rabid dog’s fur and actually rub or stuff it into the wound. Sounds very sterile!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Omni Royal Orleans Hotel - New Orleans, LA (Fifty Shades of Ghosts)

Photo courtesy of www.omnihotels.com
621 St. Louis St.
New Orleans, LA 70140
29.948051,-90.071066


             I previously mentioned how it was not uncommon for a place to be haunted due to the possessions that it contains, as opposed to the individuals that died there. Such may be the case with our next location, although there are a few additional spirits thrown in for good measure. We folks in Louisiana love to live in excess. We often eat too much, drink too much and party too much so why would we not haunt too much? The Omni Royal Orleans Hotel is such a place, rumored to be haunted by over fifty spirits, many of which are attached to the hundreds of centuries-old antiques that are spread through the building.
            The property that the hotel currently sits on dates back to the 1830’s, when a small dirt-floor café stood here, allowing locals to trade in real estate, local goods and even slaves. To accommodate to the rise of the growing community, a grand hotel was built here in 1843, named the Saint Louis Hotel, by architect Jacques Nicholas Bussiere De Poilly. The hotel was one of the top places to stay in the area, often offering free lunches to patrons and serving their creation, the American "cocktail", a drink served in an egg cup, or coquetier. This term, easily handled by the Creole patrons, was soon mangled into the word cocktail by the Americans.

Olivier House Hotel - New Orleans, LA

828 Toulouse St.
New Orleans, LA 70112
29.958012,-90.067104


            Only steps away from the karaoke spectacular that is Razzoo’s bar where tourists flock to drop all inhibitions by showcasing their horrible vocal skills, sits the Olivier House Hotel. This is a great place to stay if you want that historical feel while still being close to all of the activity. As I’ve said before, proximity is the key when you are stumbling around at four in the morning and you are seeing three of everything!
            The history of the Olivier House Hotel begins with a young woman by the name of Madame Marie Anne Bievenu, who was born in 1772. At the tender age of sixteen, she would marry Nicolas Godefroy Olivier, who was a well-known painter in the community. The Olivier family would grow to be very prominent in the city, becoming one of the wealthiest families in the area. By the 1830’s, Nicolas had passed away, leaving behind a handsome inheritance to Marie and their nine children. With her newly found funds, Marie decided that she would build a grand home on a piece of property she already owned on Toulouse Street.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Old Ursuline Convent - New Orleans, LA (The Casket Girls of New Orleans)

1100 Chartres St.
New Orleans, LA 70116
29.960856,-90.060682

            It goes without saying that the French Quarter contains some of the most concentrated amounts of history and hauntings in the United States. We have also learned that following two huge fires in 1788 and 1794, most of the entire city was destroyed and rebuilt. The few structures that did survive eventually succumbed to time and damaging storms. So far, we have mentioned several of the oldest buildings in the city such as Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop and Madame John’s Legacy. This leaves us to discuss the single oldest building still standing in the city New Orleans. It is only fitting that the oldest building contains a story so outrageous and outlandish, that it could only sound believable in a city such as the Big Easy.
            Our story begins sometime around 1727 when King Louis XV of France ordered a group of Ursuline nuns from Rouen to travel to New Orleans and establish a hospital and school for young children. The building was designed by Ignace Nicholas Broutin, the Chief Engineer of Louisiana, and architect Andre de Batz. Construction was complete in 1734 and the Ursuline nuns moved in. The building was made out of half-timber, also known as columbage. In most cases, this type of wall was protected with stucco or some other substance. Such was not the case with the convent, as the beams were left exposed to the elements. This proved to be disastrous, as the weather soon deteriorated the building and by 1744, it was on the brink of total collapse.

Old U.S. Mint - New Orleans, LA (From Fort to Fed)

400 Esplanade Ave.
New Orleans, LA 70116
29.961401,-90.057825


            Money: it’s what makes the world go round. They say money cannot buy happiness but I sure as hell would like to test out that hypothesis! Along with millions of other Americans stuck in this purgatory we like to call middle-class, I make just enough to pay the bills and not much to do anything else. I really hate it when I am grocery shopping and I have to buy all the off-brand items such as Dr. Thunder instead of Dr. Pepper and Skillet Partner instead of Hamburger Helper. Don’t you just love those cheesy imitation names? As I stand in the checkout line, meticulously adding up my expenses to make sure I stay within my budget, I look on and see a pregnant twenty year old who already has three kids and is gleefully checking out two carts full of name brand products. Instead of paying, she simply swipes her food stamp card. Sure, there are many people that legitimately need assistance but I think we can all agree that many take advantage of it. I cannot tell you how much this makes my blood boil. This, my friends, is the true fleecing of America! As I’ve always said, “If you can’t feed them, don’t breed them!” Sorry, just had to get that off my chest.
            Apparently, we are not alone, as money shortage was also felt by the government in the early 1800’s. With a rapidly growing nation, the amount of coins grew smaller and smaller. To try and alleviate this problem, President Andrew Jackson signed a bill on March 3, 1835 that would authorize the United States Treasury to establish a mint in Louisiana. It was decided that the mint be constructed in New Orleans so a prime piece of land was needed.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Old Coffepot Restaurant - New Orleans, LA (The Evil Dentist Awaits)

714 St. Peter St.
New Orleans, LA 70116
29.958171,-90.065086


            After a long night of partying it up hard on Bourbon Street, there is nothing better than eating a good hardy breakfast to soak up all that alcohol. Whether it's some good steak and eggs from the Clover Grill, those famous mini Krystal burgers, or a serving of beignets; all can alleviate the pain. One traditional breakfast food that has more history than all of those foods put together are calas. If you like beignets, then you would love calas, as they are basically beignets on steroids! Calas are made of leftover rice mixed into a sugary egg batter, then deep fried and served dusted with confectioner's sugar. People wonder why we southerners have such good physiques; look at all of the starches and carbs that we consume. I mean come on, every meal we eat usually consists of rice, potatoes and/or bread. Hell, most of the time, it’s all three at once!
            The story behind these little bundles of diabetes dates back to the beginning of New Orleans in the 1700's. As we have mentioned, slaves were normally given Sundays off as their day to rest and worship. What they did with that one day was up to them, as some sang and danced while others found ways to make a little extra money on the side. When the Spanish took control of Louisiana in the 1760's, they brought with them a powerful legal instrument, coartacion, which gave slaves the right to buy their freedom. Over time, under this rule, over fourteen hundred slaves would ultimately buy their freedom. This gave many the incentive and the drive to work extra hard, offering various side services and selling numerous types of items, often food. It was not an uncommon site on a Sunday morning during this time to see a slave walking the French Quarter, selling dozens of calas.

Old Absinthe House - New Orleans, LA (The Green Fairy)

240 Bourbon St.
New Orleans, LA 70112
29.955499,-90.06837


            Let me be the first to admit, I like to drink! I'm not quite sure if it is the Cajun in me or what, but what you may call a six pack, I call it group therapy! I'm a particular fan of a good whiskey or cognac during the winter and a top-shelf Anejo tequila during the summer. Make no bones about it, this doesn't mean I will turn down much of anything else but possibly my collar. However, one alcohol that intrigued me for years, due to its notorious nature, would eventually remind me of the old saying, “All that glitters is not gold!”
La Fee Verte, or the Green Fairy.
            For years, I had often read up on the infamous alcoholic drink known as absinthe. Although it originated in Switzerland in the eighteenth century, it did not really become popular until the 1800's in France. Absinthe is an anise-flavored spirit derived from botanicals, including the flowers and leaves of the grand wormwood plant. Due to its combination of ingredients, the liquor is bright green in nature, giving it it's signature name la fee verte, or the green fairy. The drink is already potent enough, being around one hundred to one hundred and forty proof, but the icing on the cake is in the wormwood ingredient, which contains thujone, a chemical said to be similar to THC. It is this chemical that is said to make traditional absinthe highly addictive, giving its consumers a hallucinogenic effect. Studies have shown that this can be debatable but this hasn't stopped the popularity of this licorice-tasting beverage. For years, famed artists and writers such as Ernest Hemingway, Picasso and Vincent van Gogh were regular drinkers of absinthe, claiming that the drink enhanced their creativity.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Odd Fellows Rest Cemetery - New Orleans, LA (The Ghost of Mr. Mike)

5055 Canal St.
New Orleans, LA 70119
29.981777,-90.110464 


            In the weird and wild world of paranormal investigating, people often do not give adequate credit to cemeteries as a prime spot to investigate. Although often looked at as amateurish, I strongly feel that there is nothing wrong with going back to your roots and occasionally investigate a good creepy cemetery. Especially in New Orleans, which are home to some of the most ornate, historical and downright creepy cemeteries in the state. This comes as a double-edged sword, as these locations serve as a carrot on a string. As intriguing as these cemeteries are, most of them are not in the most optimum parts of the city. Just about all are posted past dusk and if you were to challenge the law and decide you are still going to investigate, you better bring more artillery than the Louisiana National Guard, as you’re probably going to need it.
            When people hear of New Orleans cemeteries they immediately think of the picturesque locations such as St. Louis Cemetery number one and two and Lafayette Cemetery No.1. What tourists may not realize is that there are just as many significant cemeteries on the outskirts of the French Quarter. Only a few blocks away from the previously mentioned Holt Cemetery, sits Odd Fellows Rest Cemetery. Located on the corner of Canal Street and City Park Avenue, the historic landmark is literally engulfed by the much larger St. Patrick Cemetery number two. However, as many of us guys love to say, “It’s not the size that matters, it’s the amount of haunted activity!” Well, the saying goes something like that but you get the idea.

Napoleon House Bar - New Orleans, LA (A Ruler's Hideout)

500 Chartres St.
New Orleans, LA 70130
29.955847,-90.065178


            Hearing the name of our next location, one doesn't need to be a Harvard graduate to realize who this home is named after. However, do not be fooled, as the illustrious Napoleon Bonaparte did not live here, although if things would have gone as planned, this could have long been the residence of the pint-sized ruler.
            The Napoleon House is situated in the heart of the French Quarter and dates back for centuries. The original home was initially built in 1794 but was refurbished and expanded in 1814. The remodeling and enlargements were to house Nicholas Girod, the sixth mayor of New Orleans from 1812 to 1815.
            During this time frame, a very significant event was taking place in Belgium. On Sunday, June 18, 1815, a French army under the command of Napoleon Bonaparte was defeated by the armies of the Seventh Coalition, comprising of an Anglo-allied army led by the Duke of Wellington, combined with a Prussian army under the command of Gebhard von Blücher. Following his defeat, European powers were not going to take any chances on Napoleon's possible return, so they exiled him to the island of St. Helena; a barren, wind-swept island located in the South Atlantic Ocean. With Mayor Girod catching wind of the defeat and exile of Napoleon, he comprised a plan to rescue the fallen leader from his desolate prison.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Pharmacy Museum - New Orleans, LA (The Evil Experimenting Doctor)

514 Chartres St.
New Orleans, LA 70130
29.956071,-90.064963


            Call me morbid, but I have always been fascinated with antique medical instruments and the near-medieval practices carried out by eighteenth and nineteenth century doctors. Fortunately, we all
This will only hurt a bit!
live in the present day where, despite the outlandish cost of health care, advancements in the medical field have made the practice a lot more successful and less painful! If anyone has ever read up on some of these past poor attempts at curing various ailments, it’s no wonder so many people often died at such an early age. I truly have sympathy for those who lived during these times, as the medical instruments used on patients often looked like torture devices used during the Spanish Inquisition. In addition to the plethora of jagged, oblong tools that were inserted into every orifice imaginable, endless variants of special potions and elixirs were made more for the reason of making a quick dollar than actually causing any relief.
            Travelling salesmen from all around would travel from town to town, in the hopes of peddling the latest magic cure-all. Sure this sludge may taste like the rear end of a rotten skunk but, by God, if the salesman said it cured an ailment, you could bet people were lined up for miles to guzzle it down. I’ve always found great humor in the labels of these liquids, as they always had a funny name such as “Pappy O’Flattery’s Cure All” or “Fat Momma’s Love Juice”. Ok, that last one sounded bad!

Muriel's Restaurant - New Orleans, LA (Table for Two Please)

801 Chartres St.
New Orleans, LA 70116
29.958349,-90.063107


            One thing that makes New Orleans such a unique city is that they gleefully embrace their buildings that contain haunted activity, as opposed to shying away from making any mention of such nonsense. One such restaurant in the heart of the city is not only glad to talk about it, but they have made their resident ghost a part of the day to day operations. Next to Jackson Square, sits Muriel’s Restaurant, an excellent restaurant with some of the best food around. As I type this, my mouth is watering, thinking about their goat cheese crepes! As you walk in to Muriel’s you are immediately taken back by the décor, set to look just like an eighteenth or nineteenth century private residence. As the hostess leads you to your table, you may notice next to the staircase is an empty table set for two, with glasses of wine and pieces of bread. No, the patrons are not in the restroom with an eternal case of infinite diarrhea, as the guest that the table is set for is the resident ghost!
            To begin with the history of the restaurant is only scratching the surface. The land that the building sits on dates back to the founding of New Orleans in 1718, when it was given to a young French Canadian by the name of Claude Trepagnier. Claude played a huge role by assisting in the expedition that carved a clearing on the bank of the river that soon became known as Ville de la Nouvelle Orleans. Use your basic skills in the French language to assume what that translates to. To award Claude for his hard work in this momentous event, he was given a plot of land in the heart of the newly found area. By 1721, this area would grow rapidly, as the land began expanding along a grid system with a spot known as the Place de Armes, later being called Jackson Square, as the epicenter. It is rumored that during this time, the small home was used to temporarily house and catalogue slaves as they got off the boat before they were moved off to many of the local auction sites. With this particular area expanding quickly, Claude’s plot of land in the middle of all the action became quite a valuable and sought after piece of property.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Mother-in-Law Lounge - New Orleans, LA (Rock of Ages)

1500 N. Claiborne Ave
New Orleans, LA 70116
29.97089,-90.066637


            My God, with a name like the Mother-in-Law Lounge, who knows what kind of demonic hauntings we may be dealing with! Full blown possessions, physical attacks and the spewing of pea soup are sure to be going on in this imp-filled establishment! Fortunately, my sarcasm and lame jokes are simply just that, as the next location gets its name from a song and not the vengeful wrath of a wife's mother. Please allow me to take a brief moment and give you a useful word of advice: Behind every successful man, lies an amazed mother-in-law!
            Our story begins with a famous New Orleans R&B singer by the name of Ernest Kador, Jr., also known by his stage name Ernie K-Doe. He started his singing career in his church choir and went on to sing with such spiritual groups as the Golden Choir Jubilees of New Orleans and the Divine Traveler. At the early age of fifteen, his talent was noticed by the manager of the famous Flamingos and his career would soon take off. After working with several musicians such as Joe Tex, he became a member of the group the Blue Diamonds in 1954 before making his first solo recordings the following year.

Madame John's Legacy - New Orleans, LA (Claudia's Blood Feast)

632 Dumaine St.
New Orleans, LA 70116
29.959437,-90.063075

            One of my favorite movies of all time is Interview with the Vampire. Not only because the movie is primarily shot in Louisiana, but I have always been enthralled with the vampire lifestyle. I’m not talking about the teenie-bopper vampires with sparkling skin of today, but those said to have existed in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The movie truly stylized the genre and paved the way for similar movies for many years to come. The morbid dark humor in the film is unforgettable. In one of my favorite scenes, Kirsten Dunst’s character, Claudia, is taking piano lessons from a strict instructor. At this point, Claudia has just transformed into a vampire and is having a difficult time controlling her insatiable appetite for blood and will not always kill at the most opportune of times. In this case, she kills her instructor to feed her need. The following scene shows individuals carrying out the coffin containing the instructor from a large French Colonial townhouse with a very distinctive elevated from porch. I would soon learn that the home used for this scene is none other than the landmark known as Madame John’s Legacy.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Morris-Isreal House - New Orleans, LA (Skeletons in Your Closet....Literally!)

1331 First St.
New Orleans LA, 70103
29.930273,-90.08085


            I had a hard time deciding on whether or not to give this location its own blog or simply add it to the list of “honorable mentions”. Although a private residence, I decided to devote more than just a quick summary of the home, as I truly feel its past deserves a little more recognition than that. As I mentioned, this is a private residence and is not open to tours, loiters and/or solicitors, so please be courteous and not bother the fine people who own the home. Simply read these pages and file it in your “haunted New Orleans” mental file.
            Construction of the home began around 1860 by an Irish architect by the name of Samuel Jamison for local, Joseph C. Morris. Construction would be greatly delayed for eight to nine years due to a little spat known as the Civil War. By 1869, the home had finally been complete and was quite luxurious for the time. Stepping away from the traditional Greek Revival of the time, the home stood out in the neighborhood with extremely ornate amounts of wrought-iron work, almost appearing to be a riverboat, as opposed to an actual residence.

Le Richelieu Hotel - New Orleans, LA (From Public Executions to Executive Suites)

1234 Chartres St.
New Orleans, LA 70116
29.961888,-90.059717


            At the turn of the nineteenth century, Louisiana was quite a happening place. The fight for the eight hundred and twenty-eight thousand acres that was known as the Louisiana Purchase was underway. France would battle tooth and nail against Spain to retrieve this massive piece of land with the hopes of transforming it into a grand empire. Once acquired, France would face an impending war against Britain, which would interfere with these plans so the decision was made to sell the land to the United States in 1803. 
            During this time, an expanding New Orleans was dealing with their own growing pains, such as riots, revolts and many of the other gruesome acts we have learned about so far in these blogs. The remnants of Spanish soldiers who had committed treason against the French were also an issue in the city as many were captured and executed. Public executions were often held in various parts of the city. One such location where many of these death sentences were carried out was on the land that now is at 1234 Chartres Street.

Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre - New Orleans, LA (A Stage Full of Haunts)

616 St Peter St.
New Orleans, LA 70116
29.95739,-90.063949


            Centralized in the French Quarter is one of the most popular and successful little theatres in the country. For nearly a hundred years, this little theatre, or petit theatre, has presented plays, recitals and other great shows on a regular basis. The theatre troop was originally organized in 1916 by the New Orleans Chapter of the Drama League of America. Just starting out, this small group began by conducting performances in the drawing room of one of its members, hence later changing their name to the Drawing Room Players. The group and their shows became more and more popular in the area so they needed to expand to a larger studio. Sometime around 1920, the group began renting a portion of the Lower Pontalba Building adjacent to Jackson Square. If the name Pontalba rings a bell, remember the building was constructed by Baroness Pontalba from an earlier location we mentioned. See what happens when you have so much action in such a small grid of a neighborhood? History overlaps itself and locations begin to tie in with one another. Similar to the “six degrees of separation” only with New Orleans, you never get past the third degree before everything intertwines with each other.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Le Pavillon Hotel - New Orleans, LA (Peanut Butter Jelly Time!)

Photo courtesy of www.timjoyce.com
833 Poydras St.
New Orleans, LA 70112
29.950262,-90.072809


            Today, Poydras Street is one of the busiest areas in New Orleans, hosting many grand hotels and major businesses, not to mention some incredible po-boys from the famous Mother’s Restaurant. Taking a stroll down this bustling street, one could not imagine that in the early 1800’s, this area was simply wooded swampland, bordering a busy French Quarter. This area was considered a “no man’s land”, being home to dangerous swamp critters and a place where really bad people went to do really bad things! By the 1830’s the overgrown canal area was cleared to make way for the oldest railroad in the city, the New Orleans and Carrollton, which extended Baronne Street across the Basin Gravier.
            The growing railway system began to expand the area. In 1867, on the corner of Barrone and Poydras Streets, the National Theatre, frequently called the German Theatre, was built. Not long after being built, a tense legal and financial dispute broke out over the property. In 1889, the theatre was destroyed by a mysterious fire that was believed to be intentionally set. It was decided that a grand hotel now be erected on the property to further boost this newly growing part of the city.

Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop - New Orleans, LA (Even Pirates Have To Drink)

941 Bourbon St.
New Orleans, LA 70116
29.96101,-90.063587

            Only a few steps away from the Lafitte Guest House is one of my favorite bars in the city. Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop is said to be the oldest building in America that has been transformed into a bar. Although the last few years seem to have brought in large amounts of tourists, this dark little bar still is a great place to relax and have a few drinks, while listening to the piano player in the rear. On many occasions, I’ve sat in the back of this centuries old building listening to; you guessed it, House of the Rising Sun. I really wished the saying “If these walls could talk” were true. If such was the case, one can only imagine what this bar would say. Other than the electricity that runs the register and bar area, there are no lights throughout the bar except for candles on the tables. Here, you can find your traditional Louisiana beers, mixed drinks and a concoction called the “Voodoo Daiquiri”. Not sure what is in it but after a couple, you may need a Voodoo priest to revive you from your comatose state!
            The building is rumored to have been built sometime around the 1720’s by Nicolas Touze and is one of the oldest buildings in the city to have survived the two huge fires that ravaged the French Quarter. As expected, the bar gets its name from our beloved brother and pirate duo, Jean and Pierre Lafitte. During the late 1790’s and early 1800’s, the home was a regular hangout spot for the two who operated a blacksmith shop here. The legitimate business was a cover which served as a front for their less than legal privateer enterprises, which normally consisted of selling smuggled goods. It is rumored that much of the Lafitte’s profits were often hidden inside the walls of the building. Unfortunately, the treasures have long been gone, but the memories and spirits during this era are still alive and well.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Lafitte Guest House - New Orleans, LA (The Pirated Playa)

1003 Bourbon St.
New Orleans, LA 70116
29.961155,-90.063461


            Believe it or not, there are actually quiet portions of Bourbon Street. After a brisk stroll through the strip clubs and rowdy bars, pass the three hundred pound bearded guy wearing only a leather thong and a feathered boa and beyond the transgender café, things actually become pretty calm and serene! Approximately around the 1000 block, the area opens up into residences and several small inns. Don’t worry, despite the decrease in action from the living, the amount of hauntings are far from affected, such as with our next location, the Lafitte Guest House.
            Records of the land that the home sits on can date back as far as the late 1700’s, when it was donated to Charity Hospital by the King of Spain. A small hospital was built on the property but did not last long, as it was destroyed by a fire in 1809. Several years later, the property would be home to a residence that would give the current property its historical name. As we have learned, and will continue to read, pirate Jean Lafitte was a prominent figure in and around New Orleans. Jean would often work together with his brother, Pierre, as the two were quite a resourceful pair.

Lafayette Cemetery No.1 - New Orleans, LA (NOLA's Quintessential Cemetery)

1400 Washington Ave.
New Orleans LA, 70103
29.928633,-90.084279

In New Orleans, you will find some of the most historic and morbidly beautiful, if that is even such a concept, cemeteries in the country. Due to the city sitting well below sea level, most burials that take place here are all above ground in huge crypts or elaborate tombs. Walking through any given cemetery in New Orleans, you can quickly rate how prosperous a family was simply by looking at their graves. Some families have burial plots so grand, they would cost what an average American home would go for. Personally, I've always felt that once I am dead, I am dead. I do not want my family spending large amounts of money for a funeral and a coffin. If you care to respect my memory, then do so in your mind. I've often told my children, “Save your money, cremate me and flush me down the toilet!”

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Jimani Lounge - New Orleans, LA (A Hate Crime for the Ages)

141 Chartres St.
New Orleans, LA  70130
29.953391,-90.067462
www.thejimani.com

*Some of the following images are graphic in nature.
As I have said several times, New Orleans has always had a dark cloud that seems to hover over it. Even prior to its founding in 1718, the settlement basically served as a safe haven for the expelled, criminal-minded and those just looking to do wrong. By the time you are done reading through all of the city’s haunted locations, you will see that during the eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, New Orleans was in no short supply of deaths, crimes and catastrophic events such as fires and hurricanes. With all of these occurring, one lays out the perfect ground work for one hell of a haunted city. As modern times approached, things shifted somewhat, but not necessarily for better or worse. Gone were the ax-wielding maniacs and torturous madams of the 1800’s, as modernization now brought in gun toting gangsters that would steal everything but the crack off your butt. Heartache and despair is still quite abundant in certain areas of the city, as they still get their raw end of the deal especially in the hurricane department. We are all aware of the disastrous Hurricane Katrina in 2005 that nearly eradicated the entire city. Still, with the fighting spirit that New Orleans has possessed for centuries, they picked up the pieces and rebuilt; whether it was from the ashes in 1788 or the floods in 2005.

Jackson Barracks - New Orleans, LA (The House that Katrina Re-Built)

Photo courtesy of www.gibbsconstruction.com 
6400 St.Claude Ave.
New Orleans, LA 70116
29.958366,-90.007172 

One thing we have learned so far is that New Orleans and the surrounding areas have seen their fair share of war. Dating as far back as 1722 the first rudimentary wooden barracks were erected on St. Peter and St. Anne Streets, fronting the Place d'Armes. After 1727, the barracks were moved to the square on Conde Street, now Chartres Street. These French Quarter barracks housed, in turn, the garrisons (French, Spanish and American troops) for over a century. In 1828, the barracks were used to quarter the United States Garrison for New Orleans. The United States Government sold the property in 1828 and New Orleans was without a garrison or barracks.
After the War of 1812, the U.S. Congress realized coastal cities were not properly defended, so they signed the Federal Fortifications Act in 1832, funding thousands of dollars to purchase land and build new barracks. On December 16, 1833 the original piece of land for this new fortification was purchased from Pierre Cotteret in the area that is now known as the Lower Ninth Ward. Construction was complete in 1836 and the location was officially called the New Orleans Barracks. The name was later changed to the Jackson Barracks, in honor of New Orleans hero, Andrew Jackson. It housed four infantry companies and came equipped with a prison, a storehouse and four 3-story guard towers, all surrounded by the river, levee and a ten foot tall brick wall.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Hotel Villa Convento - New Orleans, LA (The Supposed House of the Rising Sun)

616 Ursuline Ave.
New Orleans, LA 70116
29.960796,-90.061305

One of my favorite songs of all times is The House of the Rising Sun. Originally written as early as the sixteenth century, this folk ballad is said to represent a Soho brothel. There have been many versions of this great classic sang in various genres. The song is most known by the 1964 version recorded by Eric Burton and The Animals, tweaked to incorporate what many feel is a New Orleans brothel. Along with other songs such as St. James Infirmary, every time I hear this song, I instantly have the urge to take a drive to New Orleans. Anytime I am in the city and happen to visit one of the many piano bars in the area, I make it a habit to drop a few bucks on the table and request this quintessential New Orleans song.
For years, there has been a huge debate as to whether or not there was an actual establishment in New Orleans known as the House of the Rising Sun. Many feel the location was imaginary while others feel it was a brothel sometime during the 1800’s. A short lived Conti St. hotel in the 1820’s, a building known as the "Rising Sun Hall" in the Carrollton neighborhood and a saloon on the 100 block of Decatur Street have all been rumored places of this mysterious house of ill repute. Bizarre New Orleans, a guide book on New Orleans, asserts that the real house was at 1614 Esplanade Avenue between 1862 and 1874 and was purportedly named for its madam, Marianne LeSoleil Levant whose name translates from French as the rising sun.

Hotel St. Pierre - New Orleans, LA (A Gumbo of Hauntings)

911 Burgundy St.
New Orleans, LA 70116
29.961746,-90.065805
 
It goes without arguing that New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz music. To be even more specific and pinpoint the actual geographical center of this incredible music, one must look no further than the iconic Louis Armstrong Memorial Park, located in the Tremé part of the city. Situated in the center of the park is the historic Congo Square. It is here where slaves congregated on Sunday’s, their one day off, dating back from the early 1700’s. The weekly events were filled with native music, dance, food and crafts. The tradition would continue for years to come, inspiring hundreds to become jazz musicians who would incorporate the culture and history they experienced from Congo Square into their songs. Walking through this park, one can undoubtedly feel the immense amount of energy left behind from years gone by.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Hotel Monteleone - New Orleans, LA (The Naked Ghost and the Carousel Bar)

214 Royal St.
New Orleans, LA 70130
29.954243,-90.067833


            I have received numerous e-mails over the years from people planning to visit New Orleans, wanting to know where the most haunted hotel to stay is. Folks visiting the Crescent City want to absorb as much culture as possible during their trip and what better way to begin their incredible vacation to such a unique city than spending their nights in a haunted hotel. As you have already seen, and will continue to notice, the list of hotels, inns and bed and breakfasts is quite long. Incidentally, the order in which they are placed regarding the severity of paranormal activity has long been disputed. For fear of being tarred and feathered by the rest of the paranormal community, I avoid issuing an official ranking but I can definitely give you the top two. One of which is the previously mentioned Bourbon Orleans, and the other is the Hotel Monteleone.
            The Hotel Monteleone has long been noted as one of the top hotels in the city and is also one of the longest family-operated places to stay. The story begins with a successful Sicilian cobbler by the name of Antonio Monteleone. As with many optimistic foreigners of the time, Antonio had heard of the grand opportunities that were available in the new world. Antonio quickly hopped on his chance at making a new life for himself and his family and moved to New Orleans sometime around 1880 and opened up a small shoe shop on Royal Street.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Hotel Maison De Ville - New Orleans, LA (An Antique Bachelor Pad)

727 Toulouse St.
New Orleans, LA 70130
29.957653,-90.066025


            If you are looking for a hotel in the French Quarter with a vast amount of history, great food and plenty of haunted tales to keep you awake, look no further than the Hotel Maison De Ville, as it is the total package. The hotel and adjacent buildings are said to be some of the oldest still standing in the city. Surviving raging infernos, powerful hurricanes and more years of abuse than a Bourbon Street walker, the buildings are a testament to the resiliency of New Orleans.
            The main building of the current hotel was built around 1800 by Jean Baptiste Lilie Sarpy. Adjacent to this building are four former slave quarters said to have been built around the 1750’s, making these structures some of the oldest in the city along with the old Ursuline Convent. The slave quarters eventually were used as garconnieres, or antique bachelor pads. Creole dignitaries used these homes for their unmarried sons to do “who knows what” with “who knows who” if you get what I’m hinting at! Today, these cottages are used as private suites and are part of the hotel property.

Holt Cemetery - New Orleans, LA (The Robert Charles Race Riot of 1900)

635 City Park Ave.
New Orleans, LA 70119
29.983955,-90.104547


            Of the many historical locations I have investigated over the years, there is still something special about investigating a cemetery. I’m not quite sure if it’s because of the unique creepy factor or the fact that it takes me back to my roots of when I just started investigating the previously mentioned Ft. Derussy Cemetery. Even to this day, I will find myself stepping away from the hustle of running our group to conduct a partial investigation of a nearby cemetery. It may sound strange for those who haven’t done it, but there is something quite serene and relaxing about being alone in a quiet cemetery at night. Granted, I don’t recommend you visit just any old cemetery alone at night; especially in New Orleans!
            Holt Cemetery is a well-known Potter’s field cemetery near City Park in New Orleans. The site contains the graves of many less fortunate and indigent individuals who did not have the luxury, or family, to place them in large tombs. The cemetery was initially established in 1879 and is made up primarily of in-ground burials, which for the area, is an extremely odd site. With New Orleans being below sea level, the thought of underground tombs can lead to disaster, for all it takes is one good flood and the morbid scene of coffins popping out of the ground may be witnessed. I have personally seen this grizzly phenomenon take place in Central Louisiana following a hurricane and it is quite interesting.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Hermann-Grima House - New Orleans, LA (A Ghost Friendlier than Casper)

Photo courtesy of www.hgghh.org
820 Saint Louis St.
New Orleans, LA 70156
29.957144,-90.067366


            People will often ask me about the different temperaments of spirits. Of course, if you were to base your beliefs on any given paranormal “reality” show (I use that term very loosely), you would think that every other haunted home is possessed by a full-blown demon. Such cannot be any further from the truth, as a demonic haunting is actually a very rare encounter. My theory on spiritual behavior is quite simple. You have friendly people and you have assholes! When these people die, not much change and their personalities remain the same, leaving you with friendly spirits and not so friendly ones. A true ill-tempered spirit can often be easily confused with an entity much more serious than what it is. Fortunately, this is also not a very common thing to encounter as majorities of the hauntings we have encountered have been friendly or simply residual energy etched in time. Our next location contains what many feel is a very friendly spirit.
            The Hermann-Grima House now sits as a historical museum on Saint Louis Street and has been meticulously restored to its original appearance. The home was built in 1831 by William Brand for Samuel Hermann. He lived there for several years until financial hardships due to the crash of the English cotton market caused him to sell the home. In 1840, the house was sold to civic leader Judge Felix Grima and his wife Adelaide. Adelaide died shortly thereafter in the home. The home was handed down to several generations of the Grima family until 1921. In 1922, the home was purchased by the Christian Women's Exchange, a local non-profit group. They operated the home as a boarding house, tea room and consignment shop for young woman until the 1970’s, when the home was turned into the present day museum.

Gumbo Shop - New Orleans, LA (A Meal That's to Die For!)

630 Saint Peter St.
New Orleans LA, 70116
29.957351,-90.063965


            When people, especially those from out of state, think of Louisiana cuisine, all that is mentioned is gumbo, gumbo and more gumbo! I cannot tell you how many times I have spoken with people from other states and they truly think that the only staple we have to live off of is gumbo. Although the concept doesn't sound so bad, we do have a much more in-depth menu to choose from. However, compared to many of the dishes I have been raised on, gumbo is quite tame. Growing up, I loved a good plate of greards (cow intestines), gog (stuffed pig's stomach) and boudin (stuffed pig intestines). Hey now, don't knock it until you try it!
            To give you a crash course on gumbo, as if your life wasn't complete already, we must go back to the 1700's when New Orleans and the rest of the south was beginning to form. Let's face it, for the majority, if you were from the south during this time, as well as for many years to follow, you weren't quite the wealthiest people around. You had to find a way to survive no matter what shortcuts you had to take. With large households and no money, you had to find ways to stretch your food to assure it lasted. Ground chicory root was added to coffee and file', or ground sassafras, was added to stews, all in an attempt to feed more with less. Ever heard of the famous New Orleans' Po'Boys, or Poor Boys?

Thursday, September 15, 2016

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

715 Dauphine St.
New Orleans, LA 70116
29.959442,-90.066199


            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.