In the mid-1980's the famous haunted LaLaurie House was owned by a pair of prominent local physicians. Sociable and popular with staffers, the pair often hosted house parties in the infamous old mansion that they had made into an inviting home.
Lalaurie house Plackard
The size of the home was daunting and the new owners immediately designated a part of it for use as storage and overflow; this section abutted the other houses on Royal Street, while the physicians chose to live in the Governor Nicholls street side.
Many a ghostly tale recorded here since the mid 1830’s and apparitions and oddities still go on there today! 1140 Rue Royale, "La maison est hanté!"
According to the verifiable report of Cathy, a local radiologist who was often a guest at the doctors' numerous gatherings, there were always strange and unexplainable events taking place in the home. Among these were unexplained footsteps on a blocked attic stairway near the bathroom in a remote part of the upstairs interior, disembodied voices in some of the guest bedrooms, and unexplained movements in the empty attic spaces.
One of the most unique experiences was witnessed by Cathy and one of the home's owners: while taking a cigarette break out on the interior balcony - overlooking the infamous courtyard where mutilated slaves were allegedly buried - both Cathy and the doctor distinctly heard the sound of children laughing accompanied by invisible feet running over the worn courtyard bricks. When she asked whether some children had been invited to the party, Cathy was told that what she was hearing was the sound of ghostly children; according to the doctor, they had been heard frequently and weren't shy about how many people were around.
Madame Marie Delphine Macarty Lalaurie charcoal
Another ghost that evidently wasn't shy was that of a female who appeared shortly after restoration of a downstairs fireplace uncovered a rolled up parchment which, when opened, was discovered to be the rendering, in charcoal, of the now-famous portrait of Madame Delphine LaLaurie. After the discovery, strange activity began to occur in the renovated room with tools and paintbrushes disappearing and even drop cloths being found bundled in fireplace grate (unburned, of course) by the morning work crews. One local carpenter claimed to have been scared "back into" his drinking problem by the appearance of a misty "grey lady" standing at the foot of his ladder one afternoon. After feeling a tug at his trouser leg, the man looked down into a grey mist with "a creepy set" of glaring eyes. As he watched, the mist dissipated. Within minutes, the worker was out of the house and heading for the nearest bar to drown his fear in rum. Many believed this manifestation to be that of Madame LaLaurie, looking disapprovingly at the changes being made to "her" home.
Lalaurie Ghost Photo 2006
Cathy never personally experienced the female ghost but she did have an "unforgettable" encounter with another entity when her physician friends eventually sold the home and she was helping them pack. Cathy was asked to go into the unused "storage" side of the house where there were stacks of books and medical journals that needing sorting and packing. Arriving with several boxes in tow, Cathy got right to work. This is what happened, in her own words:
"It was a creepy day and it had been raining so there wasn't much light up there. I found a lamp without a shade and used that to sort the JAMA books and the other stuff and at first I was really absorbed in the packing so I wasn't immediately aware of anything strange going on. The room I was in was really big but it was separated by a set of large sliding doors, the kind with the smoked glass in them that go back into the wall. Anyway, at one point I felt the room get really chilly; it just felt like something wasn't right. I was working with my back to the empty room, behind the sliding doors, and gradually I began to feel uncomfortable with this, so I turned around and began to work facing the doors.
"At one point I glanced up and it looked kind of like someone had put a light on in the other room, but since there were a bunch of staffers who were supposed to arrive and help with the move, I didn't really think anything about it. I stooped down to sort some books that were on the floor and lifted up a bunch to put them in a box and I stopped short. A creepy feeling came over me all of a sudden because I looked up and realized that one of the sliding doors was open!
"I stepped over to one foot and looked into the room but didn't see anybody in there, but I started to feel like I wanted to hurry and get done, just get out of there. I started putting books into boxes in no particular order, just jamming them in and trying to keep from looking at the door. But unfortunately, at one point I felt this urge to look and my mouth just fell open!"
Standing there, with his hand braced on the doorframe, was a vaporous male figure, appearing more solid around the shoulders and waist, but WITH NO VISIBLE LEGS. His hair was longish and slicked to the side and he had a neat beard like those popular among gentlemen of the 1800's. He was wearing white shirt with a scarf or colored ruffle around the neck and a gold-toned waistcoat; Cathy could just see the top of his brown pants.
"He just stood there and looked at me with this look like, 'what's going on here?' and then he tilted his head and just disappeared!"
Cathy relates that she wasn't scared at first, but then was struck by the "delayed reaction" of what had just happened. "I got the hell out there!" she says. "I ran downstairs so fast I don't think that ghost could have caught me if he tried and I wouldn't go back up there until a couple of male nurses agreed to go with me and get the packing done!"
The doctors greeted Cathy's story with a wry exchange and confided that they, too, had seen the ghostly man when they had gone into the disused part of the house. One of them told her that he had even smelled and seen the smoke from a pipe or cigar lingering in the empty air when he had gone in search of something one late afternoon.
The owners both believed the ghost to be that of Dr. Leonard LaLaurie, the doting husband of Madame LaLaurie who escaped with her to Paris after the slave torture debacle of April 1834. They suggested that he appeared frequently because he liked the fact that physicians were living in his home. At any rate, they claimed that although they had grown used to the activity in the home while they lived there they did not, however, regret moving when the opportunity presented itself.
Madame LaLaurie and her husband, Dr. Leonard LaLaurie, were vilified and subjected to mob violence when reports were circulated that they had tortured, abused and even killed several of their slaves in their years at the home on Royal and Governor Nicholls. To read more about the continuing debate about the circumstances surrounding this sensational event, and the haunting of the LaLaurie House for years afterward follow our link