Updated: Feb 6, 2020
Maybe I’m biased because I live close by, but I think New Orleans is one of the most fascinating cities in the country. I’ve heard it described as a separate country all its own and, when you travel there, it kind of does feel like you’re stepping into another world. New Orleans also has a reputation of being a hub for all things supernatural, and you can’t go very far without finding a haunted location. Here are 10 creepy haunted places in New Orleans.
(Note: I won’t be covering the LaLaurie mansion because I’ve already done an entire video on it where I went to the mansion. I also have a blog entry on female serial killers where I talked about Madame LaLaurie.)
1. Cafe du Monde
I’ve heard New Orleans residents say Cafe du Monde is too gimmicky, and more of a tourist trap than anything else. But nevertheless, it is world famous with New Orleans visitors. Opened back in 1862, the cafe is famous for its beignets — and if you’ve never had beignets, either from here or somewhere else…well, you are truly missing out.
Cafe du Monde is apparently a pretty popular spot for ghost hunting. It offers a clear view to the Mississippi River, where a lot of ghosts can be seen, apparently just out in the open. The cafe also comes with its very own ghost waiter. Often nicknamed ‘Walter’ or ‘Blue,’ he apparently takes your order, then promptly disappears. Considering how busy the cafe is almost every time I walk by, encountering this spirit might make me more annoyed than scared.
2. Faulkner House Books
I’m a writer, so I love books and consequently, I love bookstores. And the only thing better than a bookstore is a haunted bookstore.
If you’ve been to high school in the United States, you’ve probably heard of William Faulkner. The Nobel Prize winning author is famous for novels like The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying, as well as short stories like Barn Burning and the extremely creepy A Rose for Emily.
Faulkner was born and raised in Mississippi but spent some time in New Orleans in the 1920’s. The house he stayed in was bought by its current owners in 1990, who turned it into a bookstore. Faulkner House Books opened on September 25 of that year — Faulkner’s birthday.
The bookstore is a pretty popular attraction with writers, and the most famous one to hang around is Faulkner himself. Faulkner’s ghost reportedly never left his former home and likes to make his presence known with tourists. Guests have reported smelling pipe smoke, even though the owners don’t smoke and I presume there’s no smoking allowed in the building, like most buildings today. Ghost Faulkner is also known to give inappropriate caresses to women, which he was apparently known for doing in life. I’d love to visit this spot now that I know it’s there — but I guess I’d better watch my back. Literally.
3. Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar
I remember the early 2000’s when the Pirates of the Caribbean movies were being released. Everyone my age wanted to be just like Captain Jack, and one of my friends even gave me a hair piece similar to one he wore in the movie. Pirates were cool again.
But if you really like pirates, you should consider a visit to the former stomping grounds of one of the most famous, Jean Lafitte. Built in the early 1700’s, this Bourbon Street haunt fronted as a blacksmith shop but was actually thought to be used by Laffite and his brother Pierre for their smuggling operation.
The shop became a bar in the early 1900’s and now operates as a piano bar. Its most famous ghost is Jean Lafitte himself. Lafitte makes his appearance as a full bodied apparition dressed all in sailor’s gear. He never interacts with anyone and usually disappears soon after he’s spotted.
Another ghost is an unknown woman who has been seen on the bar’s second floor. She’s much more talkative with guests, sometimes holding conversations with them or even whispering in their ears, and is thought to have either lived at the shop at one point or been killed there. Maybe both. On a slightly more disturbing note, a pair of disembodied red eyes have also been reported.
4. New Orleans Pharmacy Museum
Just under a ten minute walk from Laffite’s bar is the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum. Originally owned by Louis Dufilho Jr., the first licensed pharmacist in the country, the museum’s mission is “to further interest in the history of pharmacology and promote its further development for the benefit of the general public.” But if a museum about pharmacy sounds boring to you, it actually holds all sorts of bizarre things, including Civil War amputation saws, voodoo potions and exhibits concerning “questionable medical practices.”
The museum’s most prominent ghost is that of Dr. Joseph Dupas, the second owner of the property. Dupas was said to perform gruesome experiments on pregnant slaves, as well as voodoo rites. He’s said to wander the museum after closing, throwing books around, moving items on display and triggering the alarm system. Two ghost children have also been spotted playing in the area, thought to be Dufilho’s.
5. St. Louis Cathedral
If you’ve ever visited New Orleans, you’ve probably at last seen this cathedral. It’s been open since 1727, has survived numerous fires (as well as hurricanes) and is now one of the city’s most famous landmarks. Like with many churches, there are people buried underneath the building — though that fact seems to contribute very little to the cathedral’s ghostly legends.
Two women that were famous in life have also been spotted in death inside the cathedral. Madame LaLaurie — who I mentioned at the beginning of this video — has been spotted praying for her sins in a third row pew. I’m not sure how witnesses know exactly what Madame LaLaurie is praying for, but if you know anything about her, you know she has quite a few sins she could probably stand to pray for. Voodoo queen Marie Laveau has also been seen praying in the pews or wandering the building.
Witnesses have also heard singing and chanting coming from the area around the cathedral. This presumably happens when mass isn’t being held — otherwise it wouldn’t be all that weird. The singing is said to be done by the ghost of a priest named Pere Dagobert.
But the cathedral’s most well known ghost is a Spanish friar name Pere Antoine, who served as pastor of the church until his death in 1829. (I always thought Catholic churches had priests, not pastors, but almost every source I found referred to him as a ‘pastor,’ so what do I know.) Even though there’s no grave marker for Pere Antoine, some people think he’s buried there. His ghost has been spotted on altars and balconies around the building, and seems to make more frequent appearances during the holiday season. He's also been seen in the early morning wandering the nearby alley, which was named for him.
6. St. Louis Cemetery No. 1
Some ghost hunters will tell you that ghosts don’t actually want to hang out at cemeteries — that they’d rather spend eternity in the place where they died, rather than the place they were buried. But given the historical significance of both the cemetery and surrounding area, maybe some of these ghosts made an exception.
St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is the first of three cemeteries of the same name, all owned and operated by the Catholic church. No. 1 was opened back in 1789 because St. Peter Cemetery was full. The cemetery is just a block wide but holds over 700 tombs and 100,000 bodies.
The cemetery is the final resting place for numerous well known names. Among the famous residents is Homer Plessy, the plaintiff in the huge Supreme Court decision that made segregation widespread in the U.S. Actor Nicholas Cage also bought an, um, interesting looking pyramid grave in 2010 with the intentions of being buried there one day.
But Marie Laveau doesn’t just spend her afterlife in church. She’s also been spotted wandering the cemetery as well as the area around the French Quarter. While standing near her grave — arguably one of the cemetery’s most famous — people have reported being touched, hearing voices from inside the tomb, and suddenly feeling ill (though that one could just be from too much alcohol).
Another well known ghost is a 19-year-old named Henry Vignes. Henry was all set to be buried in a family plot at the cemetery when he died — until the owner of the boarding house he lived in sold the plot. Henry was never able to get the plot back and couldn’t afford another one. So when he died just a few months later, he was buried in a pauper’s grave instead. He’s been spotted asking visitors where the Vignes family tomb is located, and at funerals, asking if there’s any more room in the grave for him.
One other ghost I found was a man named Alphonse. Interestingly, I could never find a last name for this ghost, and it’s not entirely clear just what happened to him. But any time someone steps near the Pinead family tomb, he appears and warns them to stay away. So some people think he was killed by a member of the Pinead family. He’s also known to take flowers from other graves and puts them on his. (Geez buddy, get your own!)
But if you want to see any ghosts in the cemetery, it’ll cost you. After numerous instances of vandalism — including someone painting Marie Laveau’s tomb pink — the cemetery was closed to the public in 2015. It’s currently only open to tour groups and relatives of people buried there.
7. The Mortuary
Now, I know what you’re thinking. A haunted mortuary? So cliche. But hey, classics are classics for a reason.
Located just outside the French Quarter, The Mortuary was built in 1872 as a private residence for the Slattery family. It continued to operate as such and passed between different owners until it became a funeral home in 1930. The business took care of all funeral operations and was aesthetically very nice, designed "to mimic the comforts of home.” An estimated 20,000 funerals were performed while the funeral home was in operation.
The property was sold to a new owner in 2004 who planned to turn it into a “Day Spa Academy” — whatever that is — but they died mysteriously later that year and the property was put it up for sale again. It survived Katrina and sat abandoned until it was finally sold in 2007, when it officially became The Mortuary Haunted House Attraction that it still operates as today.
But even before the property was filled with men (and women) in zombie suits, it amassed a fair number of actual ghosts (you know, if you believe in actual ghosts). Stories of a ‘woman in white’ date back to the 1930’s. The woman has been seen on the top floor of the building, sometimes crying but occasionally asking people where her (dead) husband is. The 1970’s brought stories of a mortician who accidentally died during a funeral when he fell to the concrete. He’s reportedly been seen in what used to be the morgue, continuing to work even in the afterlife. Maybe he just has a really good work ethic?
Like I said earlier, The Mortuary still operates as a haunted house attraction, so it’s difficult to find genuine paranormal activity. But guests to the haunted house attraction claimed to feel being touched when there was nobody around. Ghosts are apparently even more active than usual right after the attraction closes for the night, due to them feeding off the energy of all the people who were just there.
8. Andrew Jackson Hotel
If you hadn’t guessed it by the name, President Andrew Jackson spent some time at this hotel — but not to sleep there. Back during the War of 1812, when Jackson was a general, he came to New Orleans to help prepare for the inevitable British invasion. Jackson soon declared martial law, which basically means that the military was in charge. But even after the British were defeated, he refused to lift it. At one point, he had a judge arrested and banished from the city just for questioning him. When martial law was finally lifted, the judge charged Jackson with contempt of court and ordered him to pay a $1,000 fine. All this went down when the now-hotel was a courthouse, which is why it’s so closely associated with Jackson.
But this famous French Quarter hotel was originally opened in 1702 as a boys’ orphanage and boarding school. In 1774, the building was destroyed in a fire, and five boys were killed. The courthouse was built in that spot afterwards, but later demolished. The building that’s there now was built in 1890, but apparently those five boys were reluctant to leave.
Room 208 of the hotel is supposedly haunted by the ghost of a boy named ‘Armand.’ He didn’t die in the fire, but instead fell to his death — or was possibly pushed — out of a window. Armand has been known to wake up guests by laughing, pushing them out of bed or tugging on their sheets.
Most of the ghost boys irritate guests with similar antics, but don't confine themselves to one room. Ghostly caretakers of the boys have also been seen cleaning rooms, and even Andrew Jackson himself has been spotted wandering the halls. One guest reported being woken up when a ghostly boy turned the TV on. When he turned the TV off and saw the boy, the boy vanished.
9. The Sultan’s Palace
Ghost stories are often embellished or even made up entirely — so keep that in mind whenever you read posts like this. But the luxurious home known as the Sultan’s Palace almost certainly never belonged to an actual sultan, and in fact, very little about the entire story can actually be confirmed.
Also known as the La Pretre mansion, the home was built in 1836 and originally owned by Jean Baptiste La Pretre, but soon sold to a Turkish man who either claimed to be a Sultan or was just assumed to be one because of his wealth and lavish lifestyle. The man soon moved his servants and his harem into the mansion, and nobody who entered was ever seen coming out again. He also threw lavish parties that lasted long into the night — so he was kind of the Hugh Hefner of his day.
What happens next is fuzzy. One account says the house was unusually quiet the morning after a big party, and police broke into house because they were concerned. Another says a neighbor walked by the house and saw blood going down the front steps and onto the sidewalk, and then contacted the police. Regardless, the police apparently opened the mansion doors to face a bloodbath. Everyone in the house had been brutally murdered and dismembered, making the floor slick with blood and internal organs. The Sultan’s head was so badly severed he was almost decapitated, and his murderer had laid his body on the couch, surrounded by five of the women in his harem. 37 deaths reportedly occurred during the massacre.
And if you thought those deaths were awful, just wait until you hear the last one. During this (alleged) visit, police supposedly found a hand protruding out of the ground in the mansion’s courtyard. It was the Sultan’s brother, and he had been buried alive.
Much like stories of the actual massacre, speculation on who the culprit was is kind of all over the place. The murders were supposedly never solved, but people say they were committed by the sultan’s brother or pirates. Others say the sultan hired assassins to kill everyone in the house after his brother came to New Orleans and stole everything from him. But seeing as how both of the accused died in the massacre, I doubt either of them were actually behind it.
Even if these stories are completely untrue, they unsurprisingly brought about a few ghost stories. The house is now an apartment building, and residents claim to hear disembodied screams throughout the rooms. Some have also claimed to hear music and smell incense — though that could just be the 15-year-old boy next door getting ready for a date.
And of course, the ghost of the ’sultan’ has also been spotted on the property. It’s said that he makes his appearance when women enter the building and greets them when they first arrive, hoping he can add them to his harem. I guess I’d better watch my back if I ever visit his palace!
10. Jimani Bar
Gay rights have come a long way in the past few years, but in the 1970’s it was a very different story. The bar known as Jimani Bar has operated as a sports bar since 1971, when it was known as a space for LGBT individuals during a time when even liberal New Orleans didn’t seem to accept them.
On June 24, 1973, a fire was set in the building with around 60 people inside. Some managed to escape, but security bars on the windows, a lack of markings indicating the emergency exits and crowds all made it difficult. 32 people died in the fire. It was thought to be deliberately set and was considered the largest mass killing of LGBT people until the Pulse nightclub shooting in 2016. The person who set the fire was never caught.
After the fire, reactions of New Orleans residents seemed to range from indifferent at best to hostile at worst. People were reluctant to talk about the fire, and most churches at the time refused to hold memorial services for the victims. In addition to bodies being burned beyond recognition, many were hard to identify because police suspected they were carrying fake ID’s, I assume because they didn’t want people to know they were at a gay bar. Even after bodies were identified, some families never claimed bodies of their dead loved ones out of embarrassment. As of November 2018, two of the victims still remain unidentified.
Needless to say, the hauntings of Jimani Bar are thought to be the ghosts of those who died in the fire. EVP’s have been captured in the building and supposedly capture ghosts saying they feel forgotten and always want people to remember what happened there. Full bodied apparitions have been spotted in the bar’s kitchen, often accompanied by the smell of burnt hair. Shadows, white orbs, and screeching noises have also been reported.
So these are just a few of the ghostly hangouts in one of the most haunted cities in the South. What are your favorite haunted places in New Orleans? Have you ever experienced paranormal activity in the city? Do you have a strange craving for beignets now, like I do? Let me know in the comments.