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Alluring New Orleans Combines Historical Fact and Mythical Legend

Updated on March 27, 2018

Angela Bassett portrays Marie Laveau

Voodoo Witch
Voodoo Witch | Source


The coastal region of New Orleans has numerous haunted mansions, eerie graveyards, and historical taverns. Background stories are told about ghosts originating from the Civil War and Caribbean pirates. Creole inhabitants explore traditional and new religion. Many people believe New Orleans is cursed because of violent history. Slave rebellion, earthquakes, and devastating flooding caused by Hurricane Katrina are events that exasperated New Orleans’ unfortunate reputation.

New Orleans setting and atmosphere is a major part of recent television shows such as CW’s, The Originals, an hour horror drama that features vampires and witches, and FX’s American Horror Story's third season, subtitled Coven – it introduces four Salem witches learning to channel their power.

Paranormal ghost tours include vampires and voodoo

LaLaurie House

LaLaurie House
LaLaurie House | Source

New Orleans' mansions haunted by bloody murder and torture

LaLaurie House was built in 1832, a three-story mansion, located at the southeast corner of 1140 Royal Street and Governor Nichols Street, inhabited a 19th century physician, Dr.Louis LaLaurie, and his wife, Delphine.

Lady LaLaurie was described as a crazy woman. She chased a 12 year-old slave and forced his suicidal jump outside a three-story window. Black slaves were tortured and chained inside a dungeon. People thought slaves were guinea pigs for medical experiments; painful amputations left them pathetically deformed.

Delphine’s actual participation and character is a mystery. Some scholars believe her bad reputation is highly exaggerated because reporters sensationalized news stories at the time.

Many stories of the past claim a big fire broke out in the mansion’s kitchen and tortured slaves were discovered in two areas of the house. The LaLaurie’s abandoned the house and fled to France. Rumors suggested they hid somewhere inside New Orleans. Police examined holes drilled through the slaves’ heads. An angry mob of people started to destroy the house until the sheriff and his helpers restrained them.

Different owners of the mansion claimed ghost’ slaves moaned in pain and rattled their chains.

Another New Orleans' mansion stirred up chaotic terror. Wealthy plantation owner, Jean Baptiste Le Prete, built “The Sultan’s Palace” in 1836, a Greek Revival’ four-story house located on the corner of 716 Dauphine and Orleans Street. The impressive French Quarter structure is recognized for its attractive iron balconies and large courtyard.

A middle-eastern Turk rented the palace from Le Prete before his Sultan brother personally escorted his harem to America. People whispered that mysterious women and children were held against their will. Neighbors noticed palace windows looked pitch black. Mysterious women entered the palace and were never seen again. Armed guards protected the residence. Neighbors complained that the Turk threw large noisy parties, used opium, and tortured his slaves.

The police discovered the Turk’s hand stuck out from a pile of dirt and learned he was buried alive in the courtyard. Countless murder victims had their body parts thrown throughout the interior of the palace. The identity of the murderer is a mystery to this day. The Turk’s angry spirit has been heard to haunt the house.

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Mystery Tomb of Marie Laveau

Marie Laveau's resting place

Do you believe Marie Laveau, the voodoo queen, was buried in the St. Louis Cemertary?

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Marie Leveau's mystique based on fact and legend

New Orleans, Louisiana, St. Louis Cemetery number 1 has been around since 1789. Dead bodies were buried above ground; the city had difficulties with deep ground water. Magnificent mausoleums were constructed and considered haunted. Restoration projects were caused by vandalism according to critics because original ancient structures were altered. Thieves have robbed visitors; they come out of hiding behind large stone tombs and surprise attack them.

Voodoo Priestess, Marie Laveau (c.1794-1881), raises disputes among historical authorities. Some people thought she performed ceremonies until 1890. Confusion exists about Marie Laveau's actual burial place. She may have been buried in a Greek marble and stucco tomb, but many believe her daughter was buried in the St. Louis Cemetery.

Marie Laveau may have lived around a hundred years. She was a Creole business woman, hair stylist, and serious Catholic. She combined her African religion with voodoo, and helped cure people of yellow fever and protected persecuted slaves. Her friends respected her as a philanthropist. Certain people are more influenced by her association with voodoo and visualize her as a black magic queen.

Legendary tales of Marie Laveau

Marie Laveau’s identity is complicated with legendary myth and fact. Hollywood loves the mythical aspects of her supernatural nature. It was rumored she appeared in a youthful body until her death. Her spirit walked among tombs and haunted Creole people. Laveau spoke about her voodoo curse to mausoleum visitors, describing her, “red and white turban with seven knots.” The vandalized cemetery disturbed her rest.

Countless people have visited Marie Laveau’s tomb and left her flowers and gifts, many hope the voodoo priestess grants them supernatural powers. “New Orleans’ Secret Society” members practice voodoo and believe she transforms her soul into a black devil’s cat with fiery red eyes, a contrasting viewpoint from those that believe harmless dog and cat spirits wander around cemetery ovens.

Marie Laveau’s big black snake, Zombi, has been seen guarding her tomb, but disappears when anyone tries to catch it. After midnight, the voodoo priestess has been seen dressed in white, leading nudist voodoo practitioners in secret ritual.

Ghost sightings reported among visitors of St. Louis Cemetery

St. Louis Cemetery #1 Ghost legends

A shabbily dressed man seen walking through cemetery grounds is a ghost named, “Henry.” His landlady saved legal papers of his grave plot before he sailed out to sea. The seaman returned back home and his body was laid to rest in potter’s field. No grave marker decorates the poor man’s grave site. The landlady selfishly sold his grave plot to someone else. Henry’s ghost asks living visitors attending the cemetery about the whereabouts of Vignes Tomb.

A smiling young male ghost, “Alphonse” appears in many photos carrying flowers to tombs. He takes people’s hands, asking them to take him home. He warns people to stay away from a tomb called “Pinead,” the name of a family responsible for his death. They may have inflicted him with a fatal illness. The ghost bursts into tears before disappearing.

St. Louis Cemetery No. 1

Haunted cemetery
Haunted cemetery | Source

Tragic death and long history haunt Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre

Le Petit was founded by the Drawing Room Players of New Orleans in 1922.

An architect named Richard Koch designed the French Quarter theater into a Spanish colonial style before he built it over the remains of an earlier structure in 1789. The 19th century depression caused the theater to lose value from age and neglect.

Modern day people claim they've seen spirits of Union soldiers. Men in uniform used the theaters earlier foundation as barracks during the Civil War after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.

During the long running "Saturday Night Catechism," a comedy, the theater secretary claimed she was slapped in the back by a ghostly vanishing nun. She had red marks on her back to prove it.

Le Petit is haunted by an actress named Caroline. Historians believe she had sexual relations with a maintenance man or director around 1927. She met with her lover on the theater catwalk. The play required she wear a white wedding dress for an evening show but she fell over a third story balcony. Her dead body was found in the courtyard. No evidence verified if she was pushed to her death or fell by accident. The suspect fled, didn't have a family, and was never located again. Often times, many different versions of an incident is told among popular New Orleans' ghost stories. Living actors and stage crew often claim having seen her spirit walk up the catwalk. Actors ask Caroline to find missing props for them, according to Tom Walker, technical director.

Classical tingling piano sounds have been heard in the theater. A janitor was never able to track down its source. Many people believe the ghost is native born, Louis Moreau Gottschalk; he was a famous concerto pianist, known for private performances in the 19th century.

A strange man wearing an old fashioned suit has aroused the interest of certain people in the theater; he has been reported watching performances from a specific dark area of the house. People recognize his presence scenting fragrant pipe tobacco mixed with bay rum cologne. The ghost may have been a theater fan or agent of an old actor.

Ghosts of the theater are not always seen. Union boots are heard stomping on hardwood floors. People hear faint conversation while no one stands near them. Croquet balls are sometimes heard being hit and rolling across attic rooms.

Actors claim they were haunted by an ex-theater manager who committed suicide; he fired a bullet shot through his brain. He makes creaky noises by mysteriously opening doors and drawers. He is also suspected of stealing money and precious objects.

Horror movies filmed in New Orleans and Louisiana

Top 10 IMDb Ratings
Production Notes
Interview with the Vampire: Vampire Chronicles
A plantation owner loses his wife and child, unsuccessful child birth. Louis meets Lestadt, a vampire, and becomes a creature of the night
Director: Neil Jordan, Writer(screenplay): Anne Rice, Actors: Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Antonio Banderas
The Beyond
An old Louisiana hotel is restored by a young woman inheriting the property. The hotel cellar leads to the beyond, an opening to hell. Freakish accidents happen to her construction crew
Director: Lucio Fulci, Writers: Dardano Sacchetti (story) and Giorgio Mariuzzo (screenplay), Actors: Catriona MacColl, David Warbeck, Cinzia Monreale
The Skeleton Key
A young female hospice worker in a Louisiana home cares for a speechless stroke victim. She discovers a skeleton key that leads her to a secret room. She sees signs people practiced hoodoo (black magic), and learns previous house owners were lynched for it.
Director: Iain Softley, Writer: Ehren Kruger, Actors: Kate Hudson, Peter Sarsgaard, Joy Bryant
The Blob (1988)
A remake of the 1958 Steve McQueen Sci-Fi classic. An alien substance from outer space feeds on humans and grows into a monstrous blob. Teenagers warn their Colorado community and federal agents attempt to contain the monster and cover up evidence
Director: Chuck Russell, Writers: Theodore Simonson (earlier screenplay), Kay Linaker (earlier screenplay), Actors: Shawnee Smith, Donovan Leitch, Kevin Dillon
Cat People (1982)
A remake of the popular 1942 Val Lewton' Cat People. A young girl discovers her sexuality, but savage lust turns her into a black leopard
Director: Paul Schrader, Writers: DeWitt Bodeen (story), Alan Ormsby (screenplay), Actors: Nastassja Kinski, Malcolm McDowell, John Heard
A Cajun police investigates a bloody murder in Chicago. A man with a severed arm bleeds to death. Many murder victims are found with missing body parts. Detectives find clues leading them to a serial killer intending to piece together the body of Christ
Director: Russell Mulcahy, Writers: Brad Mirman (story and screenplay), Christopher Lambert (story), Actors: Christopher Lambert, Leland Orser, Robert Joy
Blood Fest 2: All U Can Eat
An ancient Egyptian goddess possesses a man. He murders several young girls for a sacrificial ritual that includes cannabilism
Director: Herschell Gordon Lewis, Writer: W. Boyd Ford, Actors: Trey Bosworth, Lavelle Higgins, Mark McLachlan
A tourist group embark on a boat that leads to a haunted New Orleans bayou. The boat sinks and they are stranded in the wilderness swamps, haunted by Victor Crowley, a disfigured male ghost murdered by his ax wielding father
Director and writer: Adam Green, Actors: Kane Hodder, Joel David Moore, Deon Richmond
Sister Sister
Two sisters rent a room to a business man in their Louisiana mansion. A girl living near a swamp warns the visitor to leave. She suspects that one of the sisters is a murderer.
Director: Bill Condon, Writers: Bill Condon, Joel Cohen, and Ginny Cerrella
The Reaping
A child mysteriously dies and sets off 10 biblical plagues in a bible belt town called, Haven, in Louisiana. A former missionary and her assistant investigate, unable to debunk the phenomena.
Director: Stephen Hopkins, Writers: Carey and Chad Hayes (screenplay), Brad Rousso (story), Hilary Swank, David Morrissey, Anna Sophia Robb

Le Pavilion Hotel

Le Pavilion Hotel
Le Pavilion Hotel | Source

Haunting spirits infest New Orleans hotels and houses

The French Quarter Le Pavilion Hotel was constructed downtown in 1907 and epitomizes impressive French decoration from the Gilded Age. Boarding room guests have reported seeing ghosts and felt poltergeist activity.

Paranormal investigators detected up to 100 spirits haunting the hotel. Among the spirits encountered was a 19th century girl, named Adda. She planned to join her family on a sailing vessel but was trampled over and killed by a speeding carriage. Her disoriented spirit haunts the entrance of the hotel.

Aristocratic middle-aged sweethearts from the 1920’s are also present. The gentleman wears a black mustache, dark hat, and smokes a cigar. A woman dressed in an elegant blue dress, carrying a beaded purse, is supposedly his dark haired mistress. Hotel guests have smelled his cigar and her perfume.

Another handsome long-haired gentleman wearing colorful balloon sleeves and bell bottom pants is a ghost from the 1960’s. He confounds kitchen workers with practical jokes and has reportedly been seen in the mirror.

The Beauregard-Keyes House

Joseph Le Carpentier, a successful auctioneer, built the raised center-hall house in 1826. The house is named after two previous owners, Confederate General Beauregard and author, Francis Parkinson Keyes. Victor C. Klein, author of “New Orleans’ Ghosts,” claims people occupying the great hall have seen Civil War ghosts disfigured in bloody battle. They reenact the Battle of Shiloh. Live witnesses have scented gunpowder and decaying corpses.

Paranormal enthusiasts claim they have experienced a bloody mafia massacre reenactment unfold around the outside garden.

World champion chess player, Paul Munni, lost his sanity in the Creole mansion. He stormed out of it completely naked with an ax in his hand. He ran through Ursaline Street and had murder on his mind, but police prevented him from hurting anyone. His piano is heard playing by itself and his terrifying screams haunt people.

Tourists claim ghosts from the Civil War have materialized in their souvenir photos. Miami ghost hunter, Mickey, took photographs in which orbs appeared in them.

Hotel Monteleone, built in 1866, is considered the largest hotel of the French Quarter, and recognized for 600 European-style classy guestrooms and suites. The International Society of Paranormal Research discovered ghosts in the hotel: an engineer guest named, William “Red” Wildemere passed away there, but no foul play was attributed to his death.

Guest room visitors have claimed to have seen the ghost of Maurice Begere, a baby boy, appear to them by the hotel room where he died. The heartbroken parents returned to the hotel and hoped to communicate to their son, and claimed they were successful.

The International Society of Paranormal Research (ISPR) of Los Angeles encountered a spirit named Helen who died from a bad fall. She didn’t know she had died. Two clairvoyants applied channeling and freed her spirit.

The spirit of a Grandfather’s Clock craftsman has been seen working on it at different times of the day in the hotel lobby.

One guest saw a nude male wear a feathered mask during a Mardi-Gras’ event, but the ghost disappeared.

Hotel employees and guests have heard boisterous singing from the spirit of a jazz singer occupying one of the guestrooms.

French Quarter voodoo altar


10 New Orleans voodoo facts

  1. The great slave revolt of 1791, St. Dominique, Haiti, resulted in western African migration into New Orleans. They were attracted to French colonization and explored spiritualism with Roman Catholicism. It led to New Orleans Creole voodoo.
  2. The New Orleans voodoo ritual of sticking needles into dolls originated from belief in European black magic.
  3. Voodoo practitioners use Hoodoo dolls during ritual ceremonies to focus on a targeted individual they want to hurt or curse.
  4. Voodoo dolls are created out of various materials: corn husks, potatoes, modeling clay, cloth and roots. In Louisiana, tree branches are carved into sticks and clothing material is stuffed with plant stems, twigs and lots of moss.
  5. New Orleans voodoo applies either white or black magic
  6. Tourist learn about voodoo history by visiting New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum, opened since 1972, located in the French Quarter, Dumaine Street.
  7. Voodoo ceremonies include prayer to loas (supernatural spirits) that often possess the worshiper.
  8. During the 1830's, Marie Laveau sold her followers charms and potions; they participated in voodoo dancing at Congo Square.
  9. Voodoo and Hoodoo ceremonies use the lock of a females hair for good luck.
  10. The 1932 motion picture, White Zombie, starring Bela Lugosi, increased tourism in New Orleans.

The god of death invoked during voodoo rituals

Day of the Dead Ritual

Sacred dead people are honored by voodoo rituals. Many rituals are private. Rituals are often performed November 1st, the same date as the Roman Catholic’s “All Saints Day” and November 2, “All Souls Day.”

Mambo Sallie Ann Glassman, Vodou practitioner, performs a ritual for “Day of the Dead” (Dia de los Muertos). She honors Gede, a god of death and resurrection and his wife, Brigit ( Manman). The ceremonial ritual is about the honored Lwas family empowered by Gede who has great powers of healing. He and his wife guide the sacred dead through dark waters until they pass through the Great Abyss, their final destination of rest.

Rituals are performed with purple and black candles, bones, black jewels, and numerous other articles. One plastic eye-shield is missing from the sunglasses; Gede has the ability to see through the spiritual and living world. Gede also likes spicy meat and rum. Participants bring photos of their ancestors. The Mambo or priestess guides them through a silent ceremony feast.

Paranormal visitors have discovered food and drink offerings for spirits that are placed in china plates and cups. The cemetery #1 tomb’ offerings are a ritual characteristic of Wiccan witchcraft.

Sallie Ann Glassman art decorates Island Salvation Botanica Piety

Island Salvation Botanica Piety is a religious voodoo supply store in New Orleans
Island Salvation Botanica Piety is a religious voodoo supply store in New Orleans | Source

Sallie Ann Glassman's special herbs


The chart used in this article was formulated with help from Internet Movie Date Base. New Orleans' ghost stories are similar to folk tales. Stories are retold with personal variations from each story teller. But fictitious stories about New Orleans has never kept paranormal investigators away from Louisiana. They insist many mansions, homes, hotels, and cemeteries, are haunted. Personalities such as Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau and Delpine LaLaurie, are reborn in a hit television show, "American Horror Story: Coven." Gothic horror novelist, Ann Rice, movie actors, Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt, made "Interview with a Vampire" an enormous success. Tourists love partaking in "Haunted Ghost Tours" and learning about real life vampires.


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    • rebelogilbert profile imageAUTHOR

      Gilbert Arevalo 

      2 years ago from Hacienda Heights, California

      Thanks for commenting, Bill. I'd like to visit there sometime during a season free from hurricanes and flooding.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I've been there once. It's a fascinating city...loved the cemeteries. I would go there again, but never again in the summer. Me and heat don't do well. :)

    • rebelogilbert profile imageAUTHOR

      Gilbert Arevalo 

      3 years ago from Hacienda Heights, California

      You haven't discredited this hub article at all. I've always had pretty good traffic with this particular article. I don't want to argue you with you, Hellfire. I posted what I believe is interesting regarding the representations of my research. There was a lot of mysterious unknown factors about many of the ghost stories in New Orleans. You're entitled to believe what you want. I don't understand why my hub upsets you so much. All the sources listed on this hub upset you, too. I'm sorry about that. I could have taken information from books, but I wanted to make it easier for readers to check up on online references if they were interested.

    • rebelogilbert profile imageAUTHOR

      Gilbert Arevalo 

      3 years ago from Hacienda Heights, California

      I can't allow your comments on this particular hub, Hellfire Keep. You like to use profanity when you write. Go hate somebody else. I researched the information from a variety of sources. I doubt you were born during the time those ghosts were alive. Your bias towards what you want to believe, but you can't completely discard everyone else's points-of-view. Learn to act more wise before you post statements with your choice of words. Profanity will surely get you banned. And don't tell me your first comment to me was a fair critique, it was an attack. You're the only person who has ever submitted to me any mean spirited language.

    • rebelogilbert profile imageAUTHOR

      Gilbert Arevalo 

      3 years ago from Hacienda Heights, California

      The stories researched from this hub have been written and told in many different versions. Information gathered from New Orleans travel websites included legendary stories that were also covered in larger articles written about the ghosts and mysteries of New Orleans. Ghost stories varied depending on the writer and source of information gathered. They are in a sense similar to folktales. I don't claim the versions I included in this hub substantiate the ultimate truth. I included the stories that appealed to me. This hub was constructed for the purpose of having fun with New Orleans' haunted past.

    • rebelogilbert profile imageAUTHOR

      Gilbert Arevalo 

      5 years ago from Hacienda Heights, California

      Bon, I didn't research anything about the mafia in New Orleans, but I read about a lot of dangerous characters hanging around various popular localities. Mafia "suicides" in New Orleans would be a very interesting article. Good luck with it!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I am trying to find info on mafia " suicides" that happened on Bourbon St. Not sure on around the time it took place. But around the 200 block of Bourbon.

    • rebelogilbert profile imageAUTHOR

      Gilbert Arevalo 

      6 years ago from Hacienda Heights, California

      Which film version of "The Blob" did you see? I saw the original that featured Steve McQueen. I watched it as a kid several times.

    • Colleen Swan profile image

      Colleen Swan 

      6 years ago from County Durham

      Interesting and well researched hub. I'm not into the scary, but I did watch that film The Blob. Have voted up.

    • rebelogilbert profile imageAUTHOR

      Gilbert Arevalo 

      6 years ago from Hacienda Heights, California

      I'm glad you enjoyed it. Inform me when there is a hub you've written that you would like to share with me.

    • punkmarkgirl profile image

      Ashley Bergin 

      6 years ago from san francisco

      Awesome Hub! I've been meaning to research it after watching this season of American Horror Story – great to find such a wealth of info all wrapped up in 1 article. Some fascinating and disturbing stuff!

    • rebelogilbert profile imageAUTHOR

      Gilbert Arevalo 

      6 years ago from Hacienda Heights, California

      Thank you, HSchneider, I had fun putting it together.

    • profile image

      Howard Schneider 

      6 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

      Wonderful historical Hub, Rebelogilbert. New Orleans is a tremendous brew of many cultures that are quite enchanting.

    • rebelogilbert profile imageAUTHOR

      Gilbert Arevalo 

      6 years ago from Hacienda Heights, California

      Thanks for reading both of my articles, Manny. I'll keep trying to write enjoyable articles. Let me know when you finish your next hub.

    • MannySantos profile image

      Manuel M. Santos 

      6 years ago from New York, New York

      Another Great Hub. Loved the Voodoo Facts. New Orleans seems to be a place steeped in mystique and mystery. I would love to visit one day. Once again, awesome choice of graphics and videos. Keep up the amazing work.


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