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NOLA Lore: French Quarter Haunts

Each week, J.A. Lloyd will take readers through the secret and unexamined legends, myths, and folklore of New Orleans past. This week, learn the stories behind three haunted Quarter destinations. 


The term paranormal, as defined by Merriam-Webster, means not scientifically explainable. Frankly, there’s a lot in New Orleans that cannot be explained. As a result, the unexplainable has provided city with a myriad ghost stories. Perhaps the stories are a means to illuminate and cope with some of the most mysterious and violent deaths in NOLA. On the other hand, perhaps there is something that resides in the city that is far beyond any reasonable scientific explanation. Though they may defy logic, the spirits said to inhabit New Orleans unearth the incredible depth and history of the city. Below are a few notable hauntings that give our city some mysterious color.    



Pirate’s Alley

The alleyway has existed since the 18th century, but it hadn’t always been known as the now famous Pirate’s Alley; it began as Orleans Alley. During its early days, the path was constructed as a passageway and is one of two alleys that run either side of St. Louis Cathedral. Even today, the throughway still holds its old world charm and if one didn’t know any better, it appears to be plucked right out of the likes of old Europe. The streetlamps and wobbly cobblestones give it a sense of enchantment, even if it does become eerie after the sun sets and haze rolls in during the wee hours of the night. While few people can agree on its actual spelling (is it Pirate’s Alley, Pirate Alley, Pirates’ Alley? No one knows for sure), rumor has it that the alley is a popular hangout for a few souls still wandering around New Orleans. From the spirits of prisoners to a priest and even some pirates themselves, many believe the alleyway is one of the city’s most ghostly haunts. Arguably, the most famous spirit to still reside in within Pirate’s Alley is said to be that of William Faulkner. It’s not so surprising that Faulkner could potentially still be in the area. His home, now a bookstore by the name of Faulkner House Books, sits right along the pirate path. As a testament to his prose and the literary achievements of the South, Faulkner’s writing desk still rests quietly within the shop he once called home. With a glance out of the corner of the eye, many have said to see the famous author still there, writing as if nothing else were present aside from his ink and paper.



The Beauregard-Keyes House

During the early 1700s, the entire block on which the Beauregard-Keyes House sat belonged to the Ursuline nuns from France. The plot that the house sits on remained under the control of the church until it was turned over to a private owner in 1825. Since then, the home has seen its fair share of interesting tenants. One of the first tenants to occupy the house was a highly respected Confederate General by the name of Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard who was well known for his accomplishments in battle during the Civil War. The house then passed into the hands of the mob via sale in 1904 to Pietro Giacona and his family. Three members of the mob were shot in killed during dinner inside Pietro’s home in a dispute over territory and unpaid dues. After the property was abandoned by the Giacona family, it became the property of author Frances Parkinson Keyes in 1945. It is said that she wrote over 30 novels there until she passed in 1970. Given the complex history of the house, it comes as no surprise that the property located at 1113 Chartres Street is said to be haunted. The most common sightings here are of Civil War soldiers who have not yet ended their battle between worlds. Many say that when the soldiers appear they make no movement. They simply stand and stare off into the distance before they disappear. It has also been said that people get a whiff of gunpowder and blood around the area of the home.



Hotel Monteleone

The hotel has been a historic monument in New Orleans dating back to 1886. Since its purchase by Antonio Monteleone in the late 1800s, the property has remained a family owned and operated business passed down through five generations of Monteleones. The hotel also has a rich and distinguished literary history drawing the likes of John Grisham, Truman Capote, William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, and Ernest Hemingway to name a few. While the hotel is well known for its rotating piano bar and lounge, it is also famous for its history of haunting spirits. Over the hotel’s many generations both hotel guests and employees have consistently reported the presence of something supernatural. Reports of hauntings are so widespread that the International Society of Paranormal Research spent an extended stay at the hotel during 2003 to research the reports. According to Hotel Monteleone, the team of researchers was able to identify the presence of at least 12 spirits walking among the living at the property. The researchers concluded that several of the spirits belong to past employees of the hotel with floors seven and fourteen being the liveliest for paranormal activity. Some of the most common reports made by guests staying at the hotel are trouble sleeping and waking up to the feel of being touched, usually on the arm or the back. Another popular claim is seeing dark shadows moving inside the rooms. There are also countless stories of items being moved around inside of guest rooms, the elevator stopping on random floors followed by a sudden chill in the air, and a restaurant door that opens and closes regularly on its own. The 14th floor, in particular, is said to be home to the spirits of at least three children with the most active being that of a three-year-old boy named Maurice.


Image Credits: Pirate's Alley (Trey Matula), Beauregard-Keyes House (via, Hotel Monteleone (Dan Silvers)

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