New Orleans ghost stories: 8 horrifying haunted landmarks and their backstories

One of New Orleans' most haunted homes is on the list.

New Orleans is a city with a rich and dark history. Many believe that the city is among the most haunted in the United States. Here are a few of the reported hauntings and the legends behind them. Plan a day to explore the Crescent City's spooky side ... if you dare.

Photo courtesy: LaLaurie Mansion via Corey Balazowich, Flickr

LaLaurie Mansion

Many have heard the tale of Madame LaLaurie and her torture chamber on Royal Street. The origin of the ghostly tale begins in 1831 when Dr. Louis LaLaurie and Delphine moved to a Creole mansion in the French Quarter. Following a fire in the mansion’s kitchen, the horrors of the home were revealed. Legend has it that behind a barred door in the attic was a torture chamber for those enslaved. Many stories detail the cruelty involved; men and women chained to the walls, children shut inside cages and body parts strewn across the floor. LaLaurie later fled to Paris, believed to be run from town by an outraged mob. Tales of lingering are said to haunt the grounds. Others say the ghost of Delphine LaLaurie herself haunts the mansion.

Unfortunately, you most likely won’t get a peek inside this private residence. However, most haunted tours in the area include this stop. You can also venture there yourself. Photo courtesy: Corey Balazowich via Flickr

St. Louis Cemetery No. 1

Established by the Spanish in 1789, many of the city’s early occupants and infamous personalities are interred here, including Marie Laveau. It has also been named the ‘Most Haunted Cemetery in the United States.’ Pirates, aristocrats, politicians, killers, artists and the Queen of Voodoo are interred on the grounds. With over so many dead interred, it’s no wonder the cemetery has heard its fair share of ghost stories. Phantom figures and yellow fever victims reportedly stalk the rows of crypts. However, the most famous spirit believed to roam the grounds is that of Marie Laveau, New Orleans’ Queen of Voodoo. Some believe that Laveau materializes annually on St. John’s Eve (June 23) to lead the voodoo faithful in worship.

According to new rules, a licensed tour guide must accompany all visitors to the cemetery, unless you get special permission to visit a loved one.

Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop Bar

Built sometime between 1722 and 1732, Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar is reputed to be the oldest structure used as a bar in the United States and one of the city’s oldest surviving buildings. From 1772 and 1791, the property was believed to have been used by Jean and Pierre Lafitte. It was used as a New Orleans base for their Barataria smuggling operations, according to legend. A French-American pirate and privateer, Jean Lafitte plundered the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Some stories claim the buccaneer’s treasure is buried in the building’s bricks. A fireplace grate in the downstairs of the bar is rumored to be the resting place of some of the plunder. Some say a pair of ghostly red eyes can be seen staring from the grate. Other legends say the ghost of a pirate guarding the treasure haunts the bar. Some also say the spirit of Jean Lafitte roams the tavern. Photo courtesy: Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar

Experience the bar for yourself. Visit the website for more details.

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Hotel Monteleone

Built in 1886, the Beaux Arts-style Hotel Monteleone in the French Quarter is known for its rotating Carousel Piano Bar and Lounge. It’s also known as one of the premier haunted hotels in New Orleans. The hotel reportedly has a restaurant door that opens and closes every night, even though it is locked. Elevators stop on wrong floors, leading visitors down eerily chilly halls. Legend states that a former employee, a man named William “Red” Wildemere, died inside the hotel of natural causes. Visitors report seeing him inside. A toddler spirit named ‘Maurice’ is also said to roam the halls. He allegedly died in the hotel and his distraught parents returned frequently in hopes he might visit them. Photo courtesy: Sean Davis via Flickr

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Photo courtesy: The Myrtles Plantation

The Myrtles Plantation

Although not in New Orleans, the Myrtles Plantation is just a short day trip from the city. The antebellum plantation sits in St. Francisville, Louisiana. It has been touted as one of “America’s Most Haunted Homes.” Since it was built in 1796, it has been the home to many prominent figures. It’s said to be haunted by over a dozen spirits and ghosts. Some claim the home has seen ten murders on the grounds. However, historical records show just one. In the 1800s, William Winter was shot and killed on the porch of the home. His killer is unknown. Aside from Winter, numerous other figures reportedly haunt the grounds. The home is said to be built on an Indian burial ground. Other say it’s haunted by the ghosts of prior slaves and young children. Two particularly frightening stories stem from photographs showing alleged spirits and ghosts. According to the plantation’s website, a young slave girl (known as Chloe) was photographed on the grounds of the plantation. Another photo depicts what appears to be a young, antebellum girl staring out of a window behind two visitors. Photo courtesy: The Myrtles Plantation

Visit the website for details on self-guided and guided tours.

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Photo courtesy: Cari Roy

Tableau

Housed in the old Le Petit Theatre, Tableau hosts a wide selection of ghosts. Union soldiers, a theater manager, a nun and an actress who committed suicide are just a few of the many spirits that haunt the restaurant and bar. Doors mysteriously blowing open and shutting close and bottles of wine flying off of shelves are just some of the ways that the spirits make their presence known.

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Photo courtesy: Cari Roy

Sylvain

According to New Orleans psychic medium Cari Roy, the resident ghost at Sylvain is Aunt Rose, who had been a madame in Storyville, the red-light district of New Orleans during the late-1800s to early 1900s. Aunt Rose used this location as her personal home. There is a cocktail named for her, and guests can feel her presence when she is summoned by making this drink. Bartenders feel her watching over them and have reported items that move by themselves.

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Photo courtesy: Cari Roy

The Jimani

According to New Orleans psychic medium Cari Roy, one of New Orleans’ premier late-night haunts is actually haunted. On June 24, 1973, someone set fire to the upstairs of the Jimani Lounge, killing 32 men. Considered one of the country’s most horrific hate crimes, as it was a gay bar at the time, many workers and patrons can still feel the spirits of those who passed there.

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