Haunted Locations: LaLaurie House-New Orleans
*Another re-post from the House of Stitched Haunted Location series that I wrote in 2022.
I hope everyone is ready for another ghostly adventure! In today’s venture, we travel to New Orleans French Quarter, to 1140 Royal Street, to be exact. The infamous LaLaurie Mansion, where Madame LaLaurie lived with her third husband, Leonard Louis Nicolas LaLaurie and two of her children. This is where things begin to go wrong for Madame LaLaurie.
In 1831, Madame LaLaurie purchased the 1140 Royal Street property as their new home. However, the marriage was doomed from the start. Neighbors reported hearing numerous arguments throughout the duration of the marriage, and, by spring of 1834, Mr. LaLaurie had moved out. Rumors quickly began to spread that Madame LaLaurie had been driven insane from the heartbreak of losing her husband and had begun hurting her slaves. As more rumors spread, a young slave girl was reported to have fallen to her death into the courtyard below. That incident led to the Madame having all her slaves set free.
However, over time, she bought each one back. All was quiet for a while until a fire broke out in April 1834. The fire was reported to have been started by a slave woman chained to the stove, trying to get attention for help. This incident led to the discovery of seven slaves that were being held in the upper rooms of the house, reportedly chained, starved, and tortured. The public wanted an arrest, but it never happened. The crowd morphed into a mob and set upon the house. While the Madame escaped, the house was very nearly destroyed.
The stories surrounding the house include finding slaves with limbs so badly broken that one woman could only walk in a crab-like shuffle, another reported a slave with a wooden spoon stuck in a hole that had been drilled into his head, and yet another that had their intestines removed and wrapped around the outside of their waist. Gruesome, gory stories of torture and heinous abuse surrounded the LaLaurie house.
Jeanne Delavigne wrote about the house in 1946, claiming she used old newspaper accounts, interviews, and neighborhood hearsay to round out her details. One such detail claimed that when workers come in to set about rebuilding the house, numerous skeletons were found, in all types of positions and physical shape, evidence of abuse and torture still apparent. Delavigne’s book is titled The Haunted House of the Rue Royal.
Manner of these claims were later discounted by historians who stated that the newspaper reporting these stories was like one of our tabloid papers today, while their information was coming from a neighbor that smitten with the Madame, but she did not feel the same way. In a petty act of revenge, he fed rumors to the papers to ruin her reputation. Whether the story is true or not, there are several other incidents that took place at this address.
In 1894, after the house had been converted to apartments, a tenant was murdered in his room and his things had been ransacked. Nothing was found missing. But police interviews did reveal one odd detail. Apparently, he told a friend that he had been having issues with a “sprite” at the house, that would not rest until he was dead.
Much late on, in the latter half of the 19th century, the house was converted to an all-girls school for African American children. Not long after, the girls began to report and suffer from physical assaults on their person. Their arms would be covered in bruises and scratches and when asked what happened, they always answered that “the lady” did it.
Whatever the true details are, cruelty did take place at this address and multiple deaths. Ghostly activity is said to be high, and this house is listed as one of America’s most haunted houses. If you go to New Orleans, the chances are very high that this house will be a stop for every ghost tour in town. While you cannot go inside, you will get the chance to see it and also hear the ghost stories that surround the house. For more details on this story and the lore surround it, please visit the links below.
As always, when visiting, Respect the property. Respect the owners. Respect the residents, living or dead.