Thursday, September 8, 2016

Bienville House Hotel - New Orleans, LA (The Old Hag Syndrome)

320 Decatur St.
New Orleans, LA 70130

            Located on busy Decatur Street is a cozy hotel only a stone’s throw from the mighty Mississippi River. The Bienville House was built in the early 1800’s and was initially occupied by Planters Rice Mills and served as a large mill complex. The space then became home to Thompson’s Rice Mill and Southern Syrup Manufacturing where this business operated for several years. In 1835, the building was completely remodeled and opened as the North American Hotel. For the era, the hotel was known as an extremely nice place to stay.
            The classy little hotel only operated for two years, when the owners parted ways and sold the building in 1837. The former hotel was split into a small French Quarter hotel for boarders and a fire house. I suppose it was pretty convenient, as when things got a little hot and heavy in the rooms, the fireman were nearby to dowse the flames!

            Years later, the building would then be turned into the Royal Bienville, which consisted of twenty luxury apartments and really was the starting point for Decatur’s revitalization. By the 1970’s the hotel had expanded and was ideal for traveling motorists driving through the city, needing a
Attractive view of the quaint little pool area.
quality place to stay. In 1972, the hotel was purchased by the Monteleone family and they have converted it into the present day Bienville House.

            Current guests who stay here claim that the hotel is still home to several former residents that either do not want to leave or may not even know they are dead. Several individuals have reported waking up in terror, as they witnessed the apparition of a young woman standing over them while they slept. After being momentarily unable to move, they sprung from their beds, only to find that she mysteriously vanished. Other guests have seen ghostly apparitions appear from nowhere, walk down the hall and literally walk through a wall or door. Could the experience be paranormal or a simple case of sleep paralysis?
            Millions of people have fallen victim to sleep paralysis, as they awake in the middle of the night unable to move. Many claim that it feels as though someone is sitting atop of them, holding them down. Those that think more logically, attest the phenomena to a neurological misfire of sorts,
An artist's depiction of the Old Hag Syndrome
"Get off me devil woman!"
while others claim a direct encounter with the paranormal, a demonic entity or even an extraterrestrial visitor. Whatever the case may be, sleep paralysis, often referred to as the “Old Hag” syndrome is real and truly terrifying if you are unlucky enough to experience it. I have often waked in the wee hours of the morning, feeling as though someone is sitting on my chest. In my case though, it is not the malevolent mammary glands of a satanic succubus pressing down on me. Instead, it is merely my snoring, flatulence-filled boxer named Charlie making himself comfortable!

            It is uncertain as to the source of these ghostly occupants of the Bienville House. Could they be residual entities from its many years as various hotels or even a former worker from its milling days? It is locations like this where I really wish I was legitimately psychic and could actually communicate with the dead, attempting to find what haunts this hotel. Unfortunately, I am about as sensitive as a bag of hammers and couldn’t communicate with a ghost even if it had borrowed my cell phone. In the meantime, I must go off whatever a person who claims to be sensitive tells me which isn’t very promising because for every valid psychic I have met, there are about a thousand that are as legit as a $5.00 pair of Ray-Bans!

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