Culture + Style

Where to Walk With Ghosts in New Orleans

Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau’s Tomb (Photo: Joshua Brasted)

History haunts the long hallways of buildings, the crumbling plaster walls of antique homes and the secret nooks and crannies around each timeworn street corner of New Orleans. Not surprisingly, it is quite easy to discover the haunted side of the city.

Walk Among the Dead

No matter which cemetery you tour, you’ll notice that all the tombs are above ground thanks to the city’s position “six feet under” sea level. If you want history, don’t miss St. Louis Cemetery #1, the city’s oldest cemetery. It’s home to Marie Laveau’s remains among other notable figures in New Orleans history. The Voodoo Queen’s tomb is easy to spot with its assortment of red Xs covering the surface, each representing a wish made by a hopeful visitor. You will likely also see various coins, bones, flowers, and other offerings that were placed in hopes of invoking the Voodoo Priestess’ good will. Help bring this and other Cities of the Dead back to life by taking a tour from Save Our Cemeteries, an organization dedicated to preserving the 31 historic cemeteries of New Orleans.

Let the Spirits Guide You

The story behind the private residence known as The Lalaurie House is not for the faint of heart. Madame Delphine Lalaurie, a character played by Kathy Bates in “American Horror Story: Coven,” was a prominent socialite who was rumored to have been particularly cruel to her slaves. In 1834, when a fire overtook the Lalaurie house, rescuers discovered more than a dozen tortured and starving slaves being held captive in some of the attic rooms. Neighbors stormed the house, but Madame Lalaurie narrowly escaped the mob. Her whereabouts remain unknown to this day.

Jean Lafitte’s Old Absinthe House, named for the pirate who was rumored to meet here with Andrew Jackson to plan the Battle of New Orleans, still sits on Bourbon Street in the heart of the French Quarter. Though pushed underground during Prohibition, the bar opens still opens its doors—sometimes without human assistance—to visitors. Here, glasses and chairs are also said to move of their own accord.

Looking to rub shoulders with a friendly phantom? Try the Hermann-Grima House in the French Quarter, an American Federal-style mansion that has been converted into a museum. Your gracious hosts are likely the most welcoming ghosts you’ll ever encounter. They have been known to scatter scented rose and lavender and light the fireplaces.

The Beauregard-Keyes House is known for being haunted by its most famous resident, Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard. It is said that he and his troops march the halls in full military dress. Occasionally, you may also be serenaded by a phantom fiddle player.