Saturday, November 12, 2016
After over three months of covering haunted locations around Louisiana, I decided to take a break from things and touch on my second vice: horror movies. As I mentioned with my blog on The Stanley Hotel, I have always had a certain penchant for the mad and macabre that makes up our beloved horror movies. Horror movies of today are so predictable, as the ho-hum “jump scares” have become so repetitive, you can pretty much get the jest of the whole movie by simply watching the trailer. I have always had much respect for the classics of the 70’s and 80’s, as they truly paved the way and have never been replicated since. I have compiled a list of my personal favorites in the order that I find best. Be advised this is strictly my opinion so save the tar and feathering for another day!
Friday, November 11, 2016
333 E Wonderview Ave.
Estes Park, CO 80517
I have always had an immense love for horror movies. This love has fortunately been passed down to my daughter, who is equally an aficionado for the sinister cinema. My son, on the other hand, wants no part of anything remotely spooky! Sadly, most of the horror movies of today are not very good and if there happens to be a decent one, it is likely a remake of a classic. Personally, there are no better horror movies than those produced in the 60's, 70's and 80's. Sure, the special effects may not have always been the most realistic but I think that is what makes them so good. Nothing like the neon red blood used in George Romero's Dawn of the Dead or Dario Argento's Suspiria!
What many people may not realize is that there are quite a few fictitious horror movies that are not quite as fictitious as you might think. Many of the classics were at least inspired by some sort of real life events. For instance, Silence of the Lambs was inspired by the true life terror reigned by the Plainfield, Wisconsin serial killer and necrophiliac, Ed Gein. Additionally, while Tobe Hooper's classic, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was also loosely based on Gein, the whole premise of the character Leatherface is rather comical. During a busy holiday season, Hooper was standing in what seemed like an endless line of shoppers at a department store. As most of us in such a similar situation, Hooper became so aggravated with the crowds, he glanced over to the hardware department and noticed several chainsaws on display. In a moment of hidden rage, Hooper thought, “I bet I could really reduce these crowds with one of those chainsaws!” The rest is history and an instant classic was born for years to come and would ultimately be one of my all time favorites! However, nothing can top my all time favorite movie, the Stanley Kubrick's classic, The Shining.
Thursday, November 10, 2016
4400 Paralee Dr.
Louisville, KY 40272
Over the years I have given dozens of interviews for various newspapers, magazines, television and radio around the country. Most are always conducted in the normal fashion and almost always include the same question: “What has been the most active place you have investigated?” Although I have spent years visiting hundreds of reportedly haunted locations in every nook and cranny of the south, my answer is always undisputedly the same: Waverly Hills Tuberculosis Sanatorium.
For centuries, one of the many deadly diseases that ravaged the human population was tuberculosis. TB, as it is most commonly known as, is an infectious airborne disease that most regularly affects the lungs and respiratory system, but can also spread to other portions of the body. As with many of these mysterious deadly diseases, regular experimentations were conducted in attempts to find a cure. In most cases, these attempts proved to be futile, as you were left with painful procedures and a growing body count.
As I mentioned with the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum, early medicine was basically a guessing game. Doctors “brought the pain” so to speak, as medieval-like procedures were conducted and concoctions containing who-knows-what were administered to often unwilling participants. The race to find a humane cure for tuberculosis would not be spared, as many of these attempts were torturous and often proved just as deadly as the disease itself.
Monday, November 7, 2016
The Strand Theatre (Shreveport)
619 Louisiana Avenue #200, Shreveport, LA 71101 (32.509954,-93.749932)
Built in 1925, the Strand Theatre has remained a landmark of the city for many years. Always known for its ornate design, the Strand started out as a Vaudeville venue and then converted to motion pictures by the 1940’s. The theatre would close down in 1977 and almost faced demolishing. Fortunately, a group of concerned citizens pooled their resources together and brought like back to the venue. Since 1984, the Strand continues to host the Shreveport Broadway Series as well as other traveling off-Broadway shows. As with many haunted theatres, staff members have witnessed unexplainable shadows in the balconies and on stage, accompanied with the sounds of disembodied voices.
Sunday, November 6, 2016
619 Chartres Street, New Orleans, LA 70116 (29.957146,-90.064445)
As I have mentioned many times in this book, the Great Fire of 1788 played a crucial role in rebuilding the entire city. Many would lose their lives from this massive inferno. It was at this location on Good Friday, March 21, 1788, where the fire is said to have initially began, destroying eight hundred and fifty-six of the one thousand one hundred structures in the city in only five hours! At the time of the fire, this location was the home of Army Treasurer Don Vincente Jose Nunez.
Saturday, November 5, 2016
The Alibi Bar (New Orleans)
811 Iberville Street, New Orleans, LA 70112 (29.955001,-90.06934)
This popular hangout spot was built sometime around 1830 and was connected to the old D.H. Holmes building. It served as private residences and apartments for most of its tenure. Legends tell that the attic area was used to hide slaves during the days of the Underground Railroad. Stories recount that several young children perished in the attic but there is no verifiable proof of this taking place. Several years ago, an employee was stabbed to death behind the bar. These two incidents are said to fuel the haunted tails at the Alibi Bar. Objects have literally flown off the bar and staff members have seen dark shadows and unexplainable black mist, appearing in the shape of a human figure.
Friday, November 4, 2016
I have never claimed to be Agatha Christie or Kolchak but I have tried my best to excavate as much history as I could on haunted locations, especially throughout Louisiana. As you have read, many of these places are worthy of their own books, as they are so rich with interesting tales and folklore. Still, once everything was laid out for presentation, I was still left with a handful of locations that, although little to no history could be found, they have long been rumored to being haunted. Whether it is that these areas have never been investigated, they are barred from the public, or not enough light has been shed on them, I felt that they still had to be mentioned for the sake of truly covering as many reportedly haunted locations that I was aware of. Here, you will find what I simply call the “honorable mentions,” as they still are connected to haunted stories in some fashion. Some may be folklore while others are simply urban legend; they still deserved some form of acknowledgement. This will be part one of a four part series.
Thursday, November 3, 2016
31025 Louisiana Hwy 1
White Castle, LA 70788
After over two months of covering haunted locations, I would like to hope that you have learned a few things about the great state of Louisiana. You have been introduced to the state’s amazing history, our intriguing culture and my lame attempts at humor. If you have made it this far, consider yourself one of the select few that has been able to tolerate me for so long. For the others that turned their nose as soon as they read my misinterpretations of the Biscuit Palace and the Sausage Man’s House, they sure missed out on what I would like to consider a hidden gem of Louisiana haunted history, told in a very different tone. I have never liked books that read out like a college text book. I try to write like I speak, which doesn’t necessarily mean it is gold but it seems to work for some. Sometimes, it’s not how you finish the race, just as long as you make it to the end.
I have touched on nearly every single plantation in Louisiana, which conveniently all seem to have a haunted past. It’s really no huge surprise that the plantation-to-hauntings ratio is so high, as these homes are all so old with such a dense amount of history. Lots of blood, sweat and tears went into these homes, which is always a great place to start when culminating the birth of a haunting. In an era ravaged with war and disease, life expectancies were not very long whether the causes have been natural or other. While some plantations have stayed within the same family for years, others have been sold more times than one can remember. We have touched on the most famous, most haunted and most notorious plantations that Louisiana has to offer. It is only suiting that we save the largest plantation, not only in the state, but in the country, for last.
Wednesday, November 2, 2016
21997 Highway 23
West Point a La Hache, LA 70083
As one travels about thirty miles south of the extremely up-tempo beat of which is New Orleans, you run into the complete polar opposite. You will encounter a near barren land of swamps, marshland, creeks, bayous, sloughs, lakes, rivers and every other body of water you can fathom, mixed in with a few residential areas. All signs of an eroding coastal area, slowly shrinking year after year. With hundreds of hurricanes pummeling this area over centuries, this area is slowly transforming to a hydrated wasteland. An area that was once swarmed with over sixty grand plantation homes and acres upon acres of farmland looks quite different today with only a couple of antique homes as a reminder of a land that time forgot.
One of the few plantation homes that still stand in this area is Woodland Plantation in a small community of Port Sulphur known as West Point a La Hache which translates into “point of the axe.” The plantation was originally built in mid-1830 by William Johnson, a river pilot/captain/pirate (depending on how polite you are) from Nova Scotia. Prior to the turn of the nineteenth century, with the aid of his partner, George Braddish, Johnson would build the now defunct Magnolia Plantation, which once sat approximately four miles from Woodland. Along with both men’s wives and children, the whole bunch would live under one roof as an antique Brady Bunch of sorts. The Woodland property would consist of the main house, an overseer’s house, tenant’s house and two-story brick slave quarters, which are a very rare site for the time, as the only property to have such slave quarters are at the previously mentioned Ormond Plantation. According to the Woodland Plantation website:
Tuesday, November 1, 2016
525 N Main St.
Washington, LA 70589
As I have said numerous times, I love to eat! It doesn’t help matters when you live in a state that is known for its rich and delicious dishes, which are not often the healthiest for you. I jokingly tell people that our great food has given me the body of a God. It’s just too bad that God happens to be Buddha! I have always enjoyed travelling the state not only to look for new haunted areas to investigate but for new places to eat. Louisiana is filled with these hidden jems just waiting to be tried out. After finding a new restaurant that has a superb dish I have never tried before, I will often try to replicate it at home as cooking is another passion of mine. My wife often says she cannot remember the last time she has even cooked while the kids regularly place their meal orders with me like they are at a diner. I only have two rules that I tell me wife. The first is that I’ll cook until the cows come home but she has to clean behind me as I hate doing dishes. The other is quite simple: Never trust a skinny cook!
For years, one of my favorite restaurants in all of Louisiana has been the Steamboat Warehouse Restaurant located in the historically quaint town of Washington. Although the town is quite small, it is normally known for three things: Antique shops, the Steamboat Restaurant and one hell of a speed trap, as the local police seem to have an erotic obsession with writing tickets faster than a scalded cat. The town of Washington was founded in 1720 and incorporated in 1835, making it one of the oldest settlements in the state. The town is bordered by a main body of water, originally known as the “River Opelousas” but was later named Bayou Courtableau in honor of one of the first pioneers of the area, Jacques Courtableau. The bayou served as a major source of transportation and importing. Small settlements began to spring up along these waters, making Washington the largest inland port between New Orleans and St. Louis during much of the nineteenth century.
Sunday, October 30, 2016
3645 Louisiana 18
Vacherie, LA 70090
As I mentioned when I discussed Madame John's Legacy, one of my all-time favorite movies has always been Interview with the Vampire. From the storyline, to the characters and especially the locations, it is one of the few movies I do not get tired of seeing. For those of you that have seen the movie, once Louis de Pointe du Lac (Brad Pitt) is bitten by Lestat de Lioncourt (Tom Cruise), he slowly begins to transform into a vampire. As his health worsens and his body deteriorates, his demeanor and mannerisms equally dwindle down to the shadows where he is soon to follow. He becomes ill at the site of food, yet his hunger for blood intensifies. As he and Lestat sit at the dinner table of his grand mansion, his quadroon servant comments on Louis's fading appearance. Louis cannot resist the beautiful woman and bites her. She then faints, sending Louis into a frenzy, sick of what he has now become. As additional slaves gather at the outside of the home, Louis sets it ablaze. The pinnacle of the scene shows Louis kicking the door of his home open, as he carries out his servant, flames in suit. He hands the maid off to a waiting slave, hops on a horse and flees the property, as the slaves cheer and celebrate that the “devil” has finally gone.
If you remember the scene I am referring to, than you obviously remember the beautiful home that was used as Louis's plantation. If it looks strangely familiar, it's probably because you have seen it, not only in several other movies and television shows, but it is a very common plantation used in southern artwork, as many feel it to be the quintessential depiction of southern plantation life. If you have been living under a rock for the last few centuries, I am of course referring to Oak Alley Plantation in Vacherie.
2247 Highway 18
Vacherie, LA 70090
As unfortunate as it was, slavery was a regular fixture of everyday life for much of the south during the 1700’s and 1800’s. Without this massive workforce, much of the south would have starved and been homeless. Many, if not all, of the grand plantations of the south were built by the hands of slaves. These same hands would harvest crops from thousands upon thousands of acres of farmland. Fortunately, many now recognize the hard work that these poor souls were forced to put forth, as they played a crucial role in building the south. Yes, slavery was wrong and many were mistreated, but diaries from former slaves have acknowledged that such was not always the case. Not all plantation owners were violent sadists who gained great pleasure in the misuse of their slaves, such as the previously mentioned Madame LaLaurie. In many instances, even once slavery was abolished, some black families actually chose to remain on the plantations that they called home for so many years. Especially in the case of the house maids, who had literally raised many of the plantation owners’ children; they were often considered a part of the family.
For many of these massive plantations, workforces commandeering hundreds of slaves were needed to keep the homes and land operating. To house such large groups, slave quarters were built in numbers that often caused them to become their own small villages of sorts. To the rear of the larger homes, these quarters were placed in rows with a main road down the middle. As with our next location, where slave quarters grew to fifty or sixty, these makeshift communities would have their own cooking areas, farmland, livestock and even commissaries.
Saturday, October 29, 2016
595 Louisiana 308
Thibodaux, LA 70301
For centuries, sugar has been one of the most valuable commodities in Louisiana. Across the state, hundreds of thousands of acres were reserved for the harvesting of this prized staple. With the farmland, came huge plantations and adjoining structures for the property owners and their slaves. Some of these plantations grew so large they were basically a community within a community, having their own schools, churches and stores. Workers were often paid in script, a form of currency that was exclusive to the property. You were basically paid in Monopoly money that could only be used at select stores. These stores made a killing, as they could charge more than the average price for goods, as this was the only place the workers could shop from. It wasn’t like you could go down the street to another store, as they would not accept the form of script that you were paid in.
Long work hours in poor conditions and low pay grew tiresome by the workers. By the late 1800’s these workers banded together and demanded better pay. The tension would come to a head in November of 1887 when black workers in Lafourche, Terrebonne, St. Mary and Assumption parishes went on a three-week strike. With the aid of the national Knights of Labor organization, the army of nearly ten thousand men demanded an increase in wages to one dollar and twenty-five cents a day, bi-weekly payment and the discontinuing of the previously mentioned script. The strike occurred during a crucial time in sugar cane production, which would have ruined that harvesting year. After demands fell on deaf years, Governor Samuel Douglas McEnery ordered troops to defuse the situation. By the time the three-week strike came to an end, it was estimated that as many as two hundred blacks were killed.
Friday, October 28, 2016
|Photo courtesy of www.haunteddeepsouth.blogspot.com|
Chretien Point Rd.
Sunset, LA 70584
Following our visit to Chretien Point Plantation, my friend proceeded to tell me of another reportedly haunted location only a stone’s throw away. The site was known as Marland’s Bridge and had long been a local hangout for teenagers and ghost enthusiasts, as haunted stories had heavily enveloped the bridge for years. As with many haunted bridges, railroad tracks and bayous, the familiar story of a “woman in white” was predominant here. I never could quite understand the popularity of this woman in white legend. Every now and then, someone may mix it up with an occasional woman in black or even pink. If I were to start up an urban legend, I would like to be a little more original. Why can’t we have a woman in skin tight spandex with eight inch stilettos? Fortunately, Marland’s Bridge incorporates much more than the stale and drab tales of women in white.
If you happen to visit Marland’s Bridge, don’t let the looks fool you. Not sure why, but after I heard the history of the site, I was expecting a large wooden bridge spanning across a large bayou. Such was not the case, as the bridge is simply a modern rebuilt concrete structure that crosses over a small overgrown bayou. Not sure what was lurking in those waters, but during my visit, it smelled like an ogre took a crap on a burning tire! Despite the size, modern looks and horrible smell emanating from the darkness, going back in time tells an incredible story of courage and valor.
Thursday, October 27, 2016
665 Chretien Point Plantation
Sunset, LA 70584
If I haven't already informed you, I am quite man enough to admit that I have an intense case of arachnophobia! It's pretty pathetic how severe it is, as I will literally freak out if I get near a spider bigger than a dime. I can remember putting laundry into the washer once and as I pushed down on the clothes, a spider about as big as a fifty cents piece sprang from the clothes, onto my arm! I honestly do not remember much, as I seemed to come out of my own skin, hitting a level of consciousness that is hard to comprehend. Next thing I remember, I am stripped down to my underwear, running around the house, flailing my arms like an idiot! Needless to say, it was quite a sight! Oddly enough, the types of spiders I hate the most are the ones that are the most harmless. The proper term for this species is the golden silk orb-weaver but in Louisiana, they are referred to as banana spiders. They are massive in size, ominous in color and make gigantic webs with strange zig-zag patterns down the middle. I have always been told they are non-poisonous but I have never bothered getting close enough to one to find out. Ironically, the next location I will mention is home to the largest banana spiders I have ever seen. Maybe that's why it's one of the only plantations in Louisiana that I have yet to investigate!
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
421 N Main St.
St. Martinville, LA 70582
Being raised in such a Cajun household is quite a unique experience. Some may call it the simple life while others refer to it as good old country living. As a child, it wasn’t a matter of eating your vegetables. As a Cajun kid, you would be more likely to hear, “Boy, if you don’t eat all of your rice and boulettes (meatballs), I’m gonna get you with the palette à mouche (fly swatter)!” I can never forget growing up, my dad would come home with huge snapping turtles that he would catch in a nearby lake. He would bring them home and proceed to clean them to make a good sauce piquante, or red gravy. In a bucket, he would throw away the feet and scrap pieces. If the turtle was a female, my cousin and I would always gather the eggs and chase each other around the yard as we threw them at one another. Consider it a poor boy’s paintball game! Yes, it sounds disgusting because it is!
A stereotype of country folks is the comical story of eating road kill found on the side of the road. As I have often said, “The thing about stereotypes is that they are normally true!” I can attest to this, as one Sunday morning on the way to church, my mom ran over a squirrel. It wasn’t horribly marred, as it simply died of a head wound. I remember my mom saying, “I guess I should go pick it up for your daddy.” To my amazement, she swung a u-turn that would have made Bo “Bandit” Darville proud and had me get out the car to pick up the lifeless corpse. She popped the trunk and I threw the squirrel in as we proceeded to church. After Holy Communion was over and our Hail Mary’s had been said, we returned with our catch. Sure enough, my dad was pleased to see what we brought him as he would skin it and freeze it, adding with the rest of his collection. After about seven or eight had been collected, it was supper time!
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
12501 Louisiana 10
St. Francisville, LA 70775
As small as St. Francisville may be, it can definitely boast about two things. Not only is it home to the most haunted plantation in the south, it may very well have the most intact domestic plantation complex around. As with the previously mentioned Oakley Plantation, Rosedown Plantation is also often overshadowed by the illustrious Myrtles. However, with its beautiful gardens and original furnishings, Rosedown is as authentic as they come should one want a true depiction of antebellum times. According to the staff, approximately ninety percent of the home’s furnishings are original to the site and were imported from Philadelphia, New Orleans and Europe.
Construction of the home began in November of 1834 by socialites Daniel and Martha Turbull. Daniel was known as quite a wealthy individual, already owning several other plantation homes such as Catapla, Hazelwood, Middleplace, Styopa, Grove, Inheritance, Woodlawn and De Soto. Unlike many of the time who obtained their land via Spanish grants, Turbull received his by a group of seven purchases made from the 1820’s through the 1840’s. When the home was finally complete in May of 1835, it sat on a total of three thousand four hundred and fifty-five acres, primarily consisting of cotton. The home would be called Rosedown, based on a play that the couple had watched while on their honeymoon in Europe. Martha would also become quite the gardener, having an immense love for flowers. Martha began extending on a pre-existing garden on the property by purchasing camellias, azaleas and other plants. What began as a small flower bed ultimately blossomed into a gigantic twenty-eight acre garden that still sits on the grounds today. With the demand to maintain and care for such a vast amount of land, the Turbulls turned to the aid of roughly one hundred and forty-five slaves they owned to tend to the property. According to an 1860’s census, in addition to Rosedown, Turbull owned Styopa Plantation, with two hundred twenty-five slaves and Hazelwood Plantation with seventy-four.
Monday, October 24, 2016
11788 LA 965
St. Francisville, LA 70775
Often overlooked due to the mass notoriety garnered by the Myrtles, our next location may not get the haunted attention it deserves. Tucked away about two miles from the Myrtles is Oakley Plantation, which helps in making up the Audubon State Historic Site. The land that the home sits on began as a Spanish land grant in 1796 that was given to Ruffin Gray, a successful planter from Natchez, Mississippi. If that name sounds familiar, you’re not alone. From the information that I have gathered, Ruffin is the father of Ruffin Sterling Gray who would purchase the Myrtles in 1834. On his newly acquired land, Ruffin would begin construction on the family home. Early into the job, Ruffin would pass away, leaving behind his two children and wife, Lucy Alston. Lucy would ensure that the family home was completed, as she remarried a Scotsman by the name of James Pirrie. The two would birth a girl, Eliza, who was born on October 6, 1805.
During this period in time, it was customary for planters to travel to New Orleans in the hopes of exposing their families to a more eclectic form of culture. I am sure these excursions were also a chance for young women to search for a successful husband in the big city. During the spring of 1821, Lucy Pirrie would make a trip to New Orleans and meet the well-known James Audubon. At the time, Audubon was working on his famous Birds of America paintings and literature and was in need of a steady paying job. Lucy would offer Audubon employment by returning to their home in order to tutor her young daughter, Eliza. The proposal was simple; Audubon would receive fifty to sixty dollars a month plus room and board for himself as well as his thirteen year old protégé, John Mason. In exchange, he had to tutor Eliza half of his time, while the other half could be spent roaming the grounds and doing as he wished. Audubon would stay at the Oakley House for about four months. During this time, he would create thirty-two of his famous pieces of artwork and gain an immense love for the West Feliciana land.
Sunday, October 23, 2016
7747 U.S. 61
St. Francisville, LA 70775
It goes without saying, yet I will say it anyways, that the world can often be a letdown. Remember how fun events such as Christmas, Easter and losing a tooth were until you learned the cold truth that those chipper and festive characters you loved and adored were simply your parents? As you grew older, huge delusions of grandeur set in. As a teen, I just knew that the day I got my license I would have a brand new sports car waiting for me. Reality quickly set in, as I would not get my own vehicle until I was nineteen and it was a hand-me-down pick-up truck with nearly three hundred thousand miles. Prior to that, I had to chauffeur my mom around in her Pontiac Bonneville, which was powder blue in color with a big kitty cat license plate on the front. Needless to say, this was not the chick magnet I had in mind, if you know what I mean! Growing up, I quickly learned that all that glittered wasn’t gold. Hell, in many cases, that glitter effect is simply particles of lead in gun powder and we all know how quickly that can go up in smoke.
As I approached our next location, I contemplated how I would possibly be able to give it the justice it deserved. If you make huge claims like being the most haunted house in the most haunted state, how do you truly touch on every piece of haunted history and ghostly encounter? I decided that the best place to start was with the plain and simple hard facts. As I recollected every haunted story told of the infamous Myrtles Plantation, I gathered a plethora of endless tales of paranormal activity from the ten or so murders that are said to have occurred here. As I separated the years of stories from the confirmed documented deaths, I came to a startling discovery that surprised me. To my amazement, the stack of facts was literally non-existent in comparison to the legends that have been told to endless numbers of tour groups and mystery hounds. Wait a minute, if this is supposed to be the most haunted house in America, how on earth is there not more concrete evidence? At this time, allow me to throw the disclaimer out that I am not debating the fact that the Myrtles is haunted, as there are way too many credible individuals who have encountered very legitimate ghostly experiences here. With years of fact and fiction blending together into a mythical gumbo, time and elaborations continue to mix the stew more and more until we have a frothy bowl of misconceptions. It’s not a matter of whether or not the Myrtles is haunted, but what causes it to be so active?
Saturday, October 22, 2016
2678 Highway 311
Schriever LA 70395
A leisurely drive on a lazy Sunday afternoon down the back roads of southern Louisiana can be quite an excursion. You may drive for miles and see nothing but woods, trailers and run down shacks, when out of nowhere, like an oasis, a grand plantation worth several million dollars pops up out of nowhere. Start your journey in Baton Rouge on River Rd. and it will take you through several small towns and past some of the grandest homes in the country. Another route one may be interested in taking is beginning in Lafayette and head south on Hwy 90 through Morgan City, ending in Houma. Towards the end of your trip, just off the highway, you will encounter a beautiful home that definitely sticks out from the open fields.
The Ardoyne Plantation is a massive twenty-one room plantation home in the small town of Schriever. The story begins with a wealthy sugarcane farmer and state senator by the name of John Dalton Shaffer. When his wife’s, Julia, health starting to fade, John felt that the best cure was a change of scenery so he sent her away on an extended vacation to Europe, in the hopes of restoring her well-being. While she was away, John decided to surprise her by constructing a grand home that would be waiting on her when she arrived. He turned to architect W. C. Williams to design their plantation home based on a picture of a Scottish castle. Completed in 1894, Ardoyne Plantation was like no other, with extremely ornate designs and a massive corner tower which reaches a height of seventy-five feet. Needless to say, when Julia returned from her long vacation she was quite amazed at her “little cottage” that was promised to her. In an era when most homes were built in Acadian or Gothic fashion, this Victorian-styled home remains one of the finest examples in the state.
Friday, October 21, 2016
622 Commerce St.
Shreveport, LA 71101
By the end of the nineteenth century, the heart of a bustling Shreveport was beginning to pump freely in all directions. With the mighty Red River serving as the main source for transportation and mercantile activities, the land just to the west was flourishing into the commercial district. The strip of land along Commerce Street was close to the river and railroad, making it the perfect place for wholesale warehousing for various products, ranging from cotton, to hardware, to groceries, to oil field supplies. The buildings along the 600 block of Commerce Street were built in the late 1800's, and initially served as retail establishments for the area. Most of these were multi-story, and retain most of the original architecture and structure. Since the mid 1960’s, many of these buildings have been bars, or other public entertainment establishments.
Our next location sits in this block of local hangout spots and is the Voodoo Café and Art Bar. The art bar is unlike any other venue in downtown Shreveport's Red River District, with live music downstairs and incredible local artwork, the Voodoo Café is the place to be during weekends. However, once the doors close each night, staff claims the building takes on a life of its own with hauntings and strange happenings of all kinds.
Thursday, October 20, 2016
804 Wilkinson St.
Shreveport, LA 71104
As one drives down busy Line Avenue, it’s hard to believe that at the turn of the twentieth century, this main artery of the city was a simple dirt road. However, this did not deter Ella Hunt Montgomery from building her lavished dream home. Ella was the granddaughter of the extremely wealthy David “King David” Hunt, who earned millions in Natchez, Mississippi as a planter. At a time when cotton was king, so was David, as he owned a total of twenty-five plantations and one thousand seven hundred slaves during his pinnacle.
Obviously, financial constraints were not an issue that Ella had to deal with. In search of a good location to build her home, she would opt for the Highland neighborhood, as its grounds were high enough to avoid flooding that often took place from the nearby Red River. In 1916, she would build her home on the corner of Wilkinson Street and Line Avenue. Here, she would really put a personal touch on her prized home, decorating it with lavished furnishings and such amenities as push button lights and high ceilings. As mentioned, the area of Line Avenue was in its infancy at this time but Ella’s home played a huge role in assisting the flourishing area in expanding a growing Shreveport southward.
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
705 Grand Ave.
Shreveport, LA 71101
One of the things I have been the most proud of since forming Louisiana Spirits is the fact that we have been the first paranormal investigative group to be allowed into many of the state's most well-known and historic venues. In doing so, it has validated our credibility and proved what a good reputation we have earned throughout the years. To get some of the approval we have obtained, we have had to survive imposing interviews from government officials, town meetings with civic leaders and tons of other nerve-racking encounters. Once the deciding individuals quickly saw how reputable we were, permission was granted, making all of the work and persistence worth it. The feeling of bagging a big investigation is like a drug. I know in my case it often makes me say, “Ok, if I got this big investigation, what's the next one I can get?”
As I mentioned earlier, many of these locations that we have pioneered may not have a great deal of haunted history, if even any at all. Sometimes for the hell of it we will investigate locations simply due to the immense history and energy that it holds. Every haunted location started with the first ghostly encounter. Who's to say the first encounter cannot be experienced by yours truly? Many times, we come up short handed, leaving us to say, “Well that sucked!” Other times, we actually do find something, bringing another haunted location to the mainstream. I've always said, “It's not bragging if you can back it up!” We can proudly say that several of the most notably haunted locations in the state were introduced to the paranormal community by Louisiana Spirits. Sometimes we may not be given the credit we deserve but I'll save the sour grapes for another time!
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
601 Texas St.
Shreveport, LA 71101
I must admit, after spending over ten years conducting paranormal investigations all across Louisiana, I have really been to some incredible places. Mind you, for every cool place, I have been to at least two nasty hole-in-the walls. From grand plantations, giant theatres, hospitals and jails, I’ve been to locations I would have never dreamed of going if I would have never gotten into this field of study. I have been to major businesses in their infancy, some just before bankruptcy and even some prior to being destroyed by fires or floods. I’m chuckling to myself as I type, as I suddenly have the urge to sing my own rendition of Johnny Cash’s “I’ve Been Everywhere Man”. I’ve been to Opelousas, Bougalousa, Marksville, Moreauville, Shreveport, Simmesport, Bossier City, Morgan City, what a pity!
Now that the musical portion of this blog is complete, I can continue with the next location. For years, the Rendall Building has served the city of Shreveport well, housing many different businesses since its construction in 1922. The Rendall’s of Shreveport owned a previous building on the same grounds that was built around the 1880’s but it would be demolished to make room for the current structure. The building was initially ran and operated as a drug store. The basement contained a very large walk-in freezer, which was actually the first of its kind for Shreveport. Next to the drug store, stood the previously mentioned Caddo Parish Courthouse. As we have recently learned, the courthouse was home to several hangings. Once the executions were carried out, there was a need to temporarily store the bodies. What better place than the first refrigeration unit in the city? As I write this, I can’t help but wonder if the notorious “Butterfly Man” was kept in this freezer when he was executed. I hope his wings didn’t get too brittle and break off from the cold temperatures! When word of how convenient this walk-in cooler was for storing dead bodies, the funeral home caught wind of it and they too began using the freezer to extend the shelf life of their customers.
Monday, October 17, 2016
|Photo courtesy of https://sbintheknow.wordpress.com/|
West 70th St.
Shreveport, LA 71129
With all the years that I have worked in corrections, I have always had a special interest in old abandoned jails. Throw in the concept of a haunted jail and you can bet your life I will be there! As previously mentioned with the Deridder Gothic Jail and Angola State Penitentiary, prisons are notorious for being home to vast amounts of negative energy associated with years of depression, abuse and violence. Such is the case with one particular prison hidden amongst the woods of
|Location of the Old Pea Farm. Click to Enlarge.|
The land that the prison sits on was once home to the plantation of Governor Caesar Carpentier Antoine. Antoine was the third of three African-American Republicans who were elected and served as the Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana during the era of Reconstruction. As his political career dwindled down, he would move to Shreveport and build his home here where he opened up a small family grocery.
Sunday, October 16, 2016
Shreveport, LA 71115
*Photos courtesy of www.hauntla.com
I have always been a huge fan of amusement parks. Fortunately, the love for death defying roller coasters and other nausea-inducing rides have been inherited by my daughter, as I now have a companion to ride with. Unfortunately, Louisiana has never been known for having many, if any, amusement parks. The only one that has been around during recent years was the old Jazzland, later becoming Six Flags, in New Orleans. The park was only opened several years, as Hurricane Katrina would condemn it. This has now left Louisiana “park-less”, having to travel to Arlington for the closest available place to get your roller coaster fix.
One park that existed for over thirty years in Shreveport was the popular Hamel’s Amusement Park. For years, this park was the ideal place to take your hyper kids, wearing them out with a day full of great rides and carnival games. The park began as a simple dairy barn in the early 1960’s. With the purchase of a few llamas, goats and lambs, a small petting zoo was incorporated onto the grounds to occupy the children as their parents purchased dairy products. As time went on, more animals arrived such as wild cats, peacocks, elephants and primates, turning the petting zoo into a full blown zoo. With the addition of a small train, Hamel’s Zoo was becoming quite the local attraction by the 1970’s.
Saturday, October 15, 2016
Shreveport, LA 71115
*Artistic Photos Courtesy of https://bbrasseaux.wordpress.com/
I have always been amazed at the complexity and size that urban legends can grow to. In many cases, it seems that the less legitimate evidence that is found, the more absurd the tales become. Such was the case with the “Doorway to Hell” at the SSA Convent. I can remember about ten years ago, my friend told me about this old abandoned house in Alexandria rumored to have been used to perform illegal abortions. The stories were of epic proportion, consisting of a maniacal evil doctor who would dispose of the fetuses in a well to the rear of the property. Knowing damn well there was
|Map showing the school's location. Click to enlarge.|
Additionally, many of these places can be quite dangerous due to the terrain and/or neighborhood. Most of these locations are posted and regularly patrolled by the police. Often times, such venues are better left alone in the hands of future storytellers, as they are not worth the dangers associated with them to investigate. Such is definitely the case with our next location. In over ten years of research on haunted locations in Louisiana, I don’t think that any spot is more mysterious and enveloped with more urban legends than the old Ellerbe Road School in Shreveport.
Friday, October 14, 2016
Shreveport, LA 71101
I have never been too proud for shameless self-promotion. In 2008, when I wrote my first book Paranormal Uncensored: A Raw Look at Louisiana Ghost Hunting, I tried to think of a clever image for the book cover. Despite the saying, people do judge a book by its cover so I had to make sure it had meaning. My book was all about being different than the norm and breaking through the stereotypical paranormal books that were already around. Around this same time, we would conduct an investigation of the famous Shreveport Municipal Auditorium, which we will go into great detail a few blogs from now. We had arrived at the auditorium with daylight to spare and we had noticed a cemetery only a few feet away. We decided to stroll through this unique cemetery, just as any paranormal investigator would do to kill time. We were accompanied by the director of the auditorium at the time and she would give us a crash course on this extremely interesting and historical cemetery.
Thursday, October 13, 2016
725 Austin Pl.
Shreveport, LA 71101
The historic downtown Shreveport area is filled with quite an assortment of unique locations. With a cornucopia of cemeteries, municipal buildings and grand mansions, a walking tour of this area will give you a great feel for the life and times of this fruitful city. Fortunately, the historic district of Shreveport is a paranormal investigator’s dream, as literally every one of these locations come with their share of haunts. Fortunately, with our star-studded Northern Chapter running wild from Shreveport to Monroe, we have been able to be the first to investigate many of these locations. Our pioneering of many of these spots has opened the paranormal floodgates, as our investigations of many of these areas have garnered a great deal of attention to other investigators and paranormal television programs.
One of the flagship homes that are a regular stop of many of the haunted history tours in Shreveport is the Logan Mansion. The Logan Mansion was built in 1897 by Lafayette Robert Logan, a prominent beer and ice manufacturer. Designed by architect Nathaniel Sykes Allen, the mansion is one of the finest remaining Queen Anne Victorian houses in the city, with an extremely ornate interior and equally-elaborate exterior. In the mid 1900’s the home was turned into a boarding home for teachers. Today it is operated as a historic mansion available for tours.