The Lalaurie House is located in the French Quarter on Royal Street. This story is pretty gruesome and not for the faint of heart, for sure!
Delphine LaLaurie and her husband took up residence in the house in the 1830″s. As soon as they moved into the house, they became darlings of the New Orleans social scene for whom they hosted lavish events at the home. The lady of the house, Madame LaLaurie, was described as sweet, gracious and easy to get along with, and her husband was a highly respected business man.
Even though Delphine was well liked, when the Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau, started doing her hair, they became fast friends. It is believed that Marie was instructing Madame on the ways of Voodoo during their time together.
Delphine LaLaurie kept a sizable group of slaves to help her run the house. At first, nothing seemed awry, but then gossip began to spread about the Madame’s abuse of her indentured servants. The people of society ignored these claims, until they saw Delphine chasing a young slave girl through the house, a chase which culminated with the girls death on the cobblestone three stories below.
The death was deemed by law enforcement to be an accident, but the incident set off a chain of events that later exposed the woman’s dark side. An old slave woman angered over the death of the young girl set fire to the house. It is said that when firemen came to put the blaze out, the old maid ran out to them begging them to “set the poor souls in the attic free”.
That day upon inspection of the attic a horrific scene was found. Dead and half-dead slaves, men, women and children were chain to the walls having suffered various forms of torture. Some of the slaves were forced to stand for days or weeks with their heads and arms in the stocks. Their eyes were gouged out, tongues removed, mouth and eyes sewn shut, and ears and noses cut off. Soon after the fire a violent mob grew calling for Madame LaLaurie’s blood, but she escaped from the city in a horse-drawn carriage before they could find her. The home was renovated many times over, but no one ever thrived there for any length of time. In the Twentieth century, it was converted to apartments, but not long ago it was under renovations again.
There are documented incidents of people both seeing and hearing the ghosts of the tormented slaves. People also see the servants who were still working on the day of the house fire, and they go on about their daily chores as though they are still alive. Running along the corridors, slamming doors and shouts are heard often, throughout the house.
As people pass down Royal Street they have seen the ghostly spirits peering from the attic windows and heard their tortures moans. Next time you are in the French Quarter on Royal Street, check out the old house and let us know what you see.
Monique O’Connor James
Author of The Keepers, Jamais Vu, Deja Vu, and The Mulligan Man published by Astraea Press.
Coming 2012 – Becoming Jolie – from Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing.