New Orleans is known as one of the most haunted places in America. With its rich history and questionable stories there is no wonder that so many believe that evil lurks in dark corners. One cannot mention ghost stories and New Orleans and not mention the legend of Madame LaLaurie.
Madame LaLaurie’s legend is one of the most famous stories in New Orleans. American Horror Story made her infamous worldwide. Madame LaLaurie was born Marie Delphine Macarty in 1780 to a wealthy family in New Orleans upper crust. She is more popularly known as Delphine LaLaurie. She was a popular New Orleans Creole socialite known amongst her peers as captivating and kind. She was famous for her lavish parties at her extravagant mansion.
Madame LaLaurie and her third husband Dr. LaLaurie purchased an extravagant home located at 1140 Royal Street. The home was one of the largest structures in New Orleans at the time LaLaurie lived there. The three-story home’s beauty and grace matched those of its owner. No one would have guessed the horrible secrets that were kept inside.
Rumors of Madame LaLaurie’s cruelty towards her slaves had started to surface, but those who saw her interact with her slaves claimed she was always kind. One of Madame LaLaurie’s neighbors was said to have witnessed Madame LaLaurie chase a slave girl onto the roof and the child fell to her death. She is believed to be buried on the grounds of the mansion.
On the evening of April 11,1834 rumors of cruelty turned into horrible realities. A fire broke out in the LaLaurie Mansion. Legend has it that a kitchen slave was chained to the stove in the kitchen and started the fire out of fear for her life. Further investigation led authorities to find unspeakable images of slaves kept chained in the attic. Some stories say that Madame LaLaurie tortured and mutilated the slaves. Other said she used them as medical experiments. There was speculation of slaves being held in cages and human body parts scattered all over the attic. While theories may differ all are the same in stating that the slaves were kept chained and held in deplorable conditions.
Some say they escaped to Paris, while others say they lived on the outskirts of the city.
Over the years since the LaLauries fled New Orleans, the story got bigger and bigger. No one knows for sure exactly how far the horror went in that house but a local newspaper wrote an article that basically refused to go into detail about the horror found there because it was too graphic. Rumors persisted such as lurid allegations regarding buckets of genitalia, makeshift sex-change operations, brains stirred with sticks, women nailed to floors by their intestines, tongues sewn together, mouths stuffed with excrement and stitched up, females flayed to resemble caterpillars, suits of human skin, sliced penises, “human crabs”, bottles of blood or “grand gore chambers”; but they do not detail scores of victims, nor evidence for which can be traced in accounts published at the time.
After the LaLaurie’s fled New Orleans, neighbors claimed to hear screams and groans of agony coming from the abandoned house, as well as seeing the apparitions of slaves in the yard and balcony. In 1837, the mansion was purchased by a man who only lived there for three months. He claimed that he could not sleep there because he was plagued by the strange noises of groans, screams and so on of people who were not there. He attempted to rent out rooms to people but they never stayed very long either — most could only take it for a few days before they left. The owner of the mansion was finally forced to abandon the property because the ghosts of slaves were chasing away everyone who tried to live there.
Today, the beautiful home still sits at the corner of Royal Street, making it one of the most sought after locations in New Orleans. No one has lived inside the Mansion after Madame LaLaurie for longer than five years. It is considered to be one of the most haunted locations in the French Quarter. Some say that bodies were found buried on the grounds of the elaborate mansion and under the floorboards in a makeshift graveyard long after LaLaurie had left. People claim to hear screams in the middle of the night, and most owners described mysterious events taken place while they inhabited the home. No matter what version of the events you believe, the home located at 1140 Royal Street and its most famous occupant is stuff that true horror stories are made of.