2. The La’Laurie Mansion (New Orleans, USA)
- Location: 1140 Royal Street in the French Quarter area of New Orleans.
If you have watched American Horror Story, Coven, you will be familiar with the story of Madame LaLaurie and her home located in the French Quarter section of New Orleans. The LaLaurie mansion is a three storey house located in the French Quarter section of New Orleans. Today the mansion is one of New Orlean’s most famous structures.
Madame LaLaurie was a sadistic slave torturer who kept her slaves in atrocious conditions and performed experiments on them that left them violently disfigured or dead. For over two hundred years there have been reports of paranormal activity coming from this house. Stories of moaning, the clanks of chains and phantom footsteps are still reported to this day. But the real story of this mansion is more horrifying than any haunting you can imagine.
The History of Madame LaLaurie
Madame Lalaurie was born to prominent Irish immigrants around 1775, in New Orleans. Her parents, Barthelmy Louis Macarty and Marie Vevu Jeanne Lovable were upper-class socialites earned their wealth through banking, sugar cane, cotton, pirating and slave trading. Her parents were both killed in an 1811 slave uprising. On her parents death, young Delphine inherited not only their vast wealth, but her parents well-earned social standing in the New Orleans community.
Delphine married her first husband, a high-ranking Spanish officer, around 1800 and they had one daughter before he died during a voyage to Cuba in 1804. She was married again by 1808 to Jean Blanque, a man of many talents (a banker, lawyer, merchant), with whom she had four children. He too died unexpectedly and in suspicious circumstances just a few years later in 1816.
Madame Lalaurie married another man, significantly younger than her, sometime after 1825. He was a French physician who had recently moved from Paris. This made Madame Lalaurie significantly more wealthy than she had ever been, and together the Lalaurie’s purchased some land and built a three-story mansion at 1140 Royal Street in the French Quarter area of New Orleans. The lavish home was a large one and to manage it and her life Madame Lalaurie relied on a small army of slaves, which by some estimates was as many as 50. To accommodate all these slaves, Madame Lalaurie had in-built slave quarters attached to the top floor of the mansion.
The Royal Street mansion was fitted out with the finest furniture available, sparkling chandeliers and gold-plated trim on the windows and doors. Madame Lalaurie was infamous for her spectacular parties, balls and fancy gala’s which were held on a regular basis at hew new home. Madame Lalaurie was knowns for her charming, sweet nature and was renowned for her hostess and entertaining skills. But certain rumours started to circulate about her dark side…..
The parlour inside the LaLaurie Mansion
By 1828 there were signs of trouble in the Lalaurie mansion. Rumours of barbaric treatment were rife and it was common knowledge that Madame Lalaurie’s slaves were given only the basics and nothing more. Neighbours had noticed that Delphine was prone to violent outbursts with her slaves, especially if they were slow to respond to her commands. Soon the rumours were so rife that a local attorney was sent to her home to investigate the allegations. The attorney reminded Madame Lalaurie’s obligation towards her slaves well-being and care. However, it is reported that he found no evidence of abuse and even noted about ‘How charming Madame Lalaurie was to him’.
Madam LaLaurie’s Downfall
On April 10th 1834, a fire started in the mansion kitchen. The cause of the blaze was never confirmed, although some sources claim that the cook, who was chained to the stove at the time, started the fire to commit suicide and avoid being sent upstairs, a place where no slave came back from. In any case, a fire was started and neighbours entered the house. They begged Madame Lalaurie to let them into the uppermost room of the house, where the slave quarters were, but she refused. They pushed past her and broke down the door, only to reveal the horror inside. “Upon entering the quarters, they found seven slaves, more or less horribly mutilated… suspended by the neck, with their limbs apparently stretched and torn from one extremity to the other. The floor was sticky with old blood and slick with puddles of fresh new gore.” Slaves were starving and chained to the walls, many had obvious signs of being beaten, others were thick with scarring.
Some of the victims were mutilated and suspended by the neck, with limbs torn from their body. In some witness reports, the slaves were wearing spikes that stopped them from moving their heads. In others slaves were tied to operating tables, having undergone torture and mutilation. It was this last account that was used to posit that Dr. Lalaurie, not Madame Lalaurie, was the one behind the murders, although this was never proven.
The staircase up to the slaves quarters.
Delphine’s husband disappeared that night and was never seen again.
For reasons that obviously made perfect sense to the people of the time, the slaves who had been tortured were displayed at the local jail. Within two days, some 4000 people had come to see them, and their anger whipped them into a frenzy. A mob broke into the Lalaurie mansion and trashed it, driving out Madame Lalaurie and her husband. They fled before they could be apprehended by law enforcement. Later, when the rest of the house was examined in full, a number of bodies were dug up from the garden, including one belonging to a child.
Madame Lalaurie was never seen in New Orleans or even America again after fleeing from the mob. It is thought that she moved with her husband to Paris, where they lived the rest of her days. Not much is known about her death, but is believed that she died sometime between 1842 and 1849. She never stood trial for her crimes. Thus, born the classic American horror story that brings chills to our bones up to this day. Her home on Royal street remained empty and damaged for many years. It was finally restored in 1865 and over the following decades was occupied by various owners. Many complained about hearing ‘moans and groans’ through the house at night. Neighbours reported seeing ghostly sightings of slaves in chains walking on the balconies.
The LaLaurie Mansion Today
Today the LaLaurie Mansion is a tourist attraction on the outside. It is a private residence so you can’t go inside, but you can still go past to have a look. But it has had a colourful history since being owned by Madame LaLaurie. Nicholas Cage bought the property in 2007 however he never lived there. The house was also a home for wayward boys, a school, an apartment building and even a furniture store.