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Architect Tours New Orleans’ Most Haunted Houses

Today AD joins architect Robert Cangelosi in New Orleans for a walking tour of the infamous French Quarter. Often regarded as the most haunted city in America, New Orleans has a deep history of ghosts, torture and…vampire nuns?! Join Robert for an in-depth look at the French Quarter and its history to find out how it became one of the spookiest spots in the world. Vampire Cafe on a Sunny Day | Lia Rainsford Director: Skylar "Edgar Allan Poe" Economy Director of Photography: Alejandro "In the Shadows" Moreno Editor: Alex "Ghoulish" Mechanik Host: Robby "Omniscient" Cangelosi Senior Producer: Vara "It's Alive, It's Aliiive!" Reese Line Producer: Joseph "For the last time, I'm not related to Steve!" Buscemi Associate Producer: Brandon "Here's Johnny!" Fuhr Production Manager: Melissa "Goosebumps" Heber Production Coordinator: Fernando "Psycho" Davila Casting Producer: Nick "Fava Beans" Sawyer Audio Engineer: Lee "Huey Lewis and the News" Garcia Production Assistant: Ashley "Pennywise" Bush Post Production Supervisor: Andrew "6 feet under" Montague Post Production Coordinator: Holly "The last Irish Vampire" Frew Supervising Editor: Christina "Nooo! Don't go down there" Mankellow Additional Editor: William "All work and no play..." Long Assistant Editor: Justin Symonds, "The Demon Barber of NYC" Colorist: Oliver "Can I have some more, please" Eid Special Thanks: Chris "Mother told me to do it" Conti Keleigh "Wednesday Adams" Nealon Monica "The Friendly Ghost" Mulhall

Released on 10/12/2023


[thunder rumbling] [tense music]

Some people claim that

this is the most haunted neighborhood in the nation.

I don't know how you prove or disprove that,

virtually every building has some sort

of ghost story associated with it

due to the age of New Orleans.

We were established in 1718,

and all the various people that died in the buildings,

murders that took place in the buildings,

yellow fever epidemics would kill people off.

These ghost stories started to evolve

around about the time of the WPA

started to document them in the 1930s.

I'm Robbie and I'm an architect here in New Orleans.

Today, we're gonna be walking

through the historic French Quarter,

and we're gonna be visiting

some of the haunted houses here in the quarter.

[thunder rumbling] [spooky music]

As the Quarter began to decline,

there was legislation introduced into the city council

to demolish our cabildo, our presbytery,

the Pontalba buildings on Jackson Square,

the heart of the French Quarter there.

It was architects, and writers, and lawyers and all

that got together to help save the quarter.

Ghost stories were one

of these factors that helped save the quarter

by bringing people interested into the occult.

[spooky music]

The story which evolved around the Old Ursuline Convent

concerns vampires here in the city of New Orleans.

The story was that the Ursuline nuns brought

to the city of New Orleans, the casket girls,

young women from France.

They contained a little small box,

which had their trousseau, to be able to marry

the French Canadians that had settled in New Orleans.

Well, the story then became that in the caskets

were actually vampires and not their trousseau,

and that's how vampires came to New Orleans

and they were housed in the building here

by the Catholic church.

The shutters on the third floor there is allegedly

keeping all the vampires locked up in the third floor.

As far as I know, we didn't have any vampires in New Orleans

until Anne Rice wrote, Interview with the Vampire,

and now vampires are everywhere you go.

We've got vampire restaurants, vampire houses,

they sell vampire blood in stores here,

and we've got all these vampire stories in New Orleans.

Now architecturally, the building is the oldest building

in the city of New Orleans

and the oldest building in the entire Mississippi Valley.

It's the only French colonial building we have

in the entire country.

It's designed by Ignatius Bhutan,

a French military engineer,

and it was designed in 1745,

and completed, we're not quite sure, about 1751.

The building is French colonial.

What's French here?

The big steep roof.

The big steep roof is to get snow

and ice off the building in France.

It rarely snows in New Orleans,

but LSU has done studies

and found that those steep attics are low pressure forms,

like a hurricane,

and gets the natural ventilation through the building,

which wasn't intentional,

but that's what occurs there.

There's French casement doors in the windows,

which makes it very French.

The banding around the windows is very French.

Some of the oldest wrought iron

in the city of New Orleans is on the staircase,

and used on the building there today.

It one time served as Louisiana State Capitol

during the administration of Governor Roman.

It's been a college, it's been a public school,

it was the center for the Sicilian community

here in New Orleans.

In fact, I was baptized in the chapel in the building there.

[eerie music]

We're allegedly at one of the more haunted houses

in the French Quarter today, the LaLaurie house.

In the 1830s, neighbors always heard screams coming out

of the house from the enslaved people there.

They also witnessed a very young girl

jumping off the roof of the house

to flee the owner, Madam LaLaurie, chasing her with a whip.

Then in 1834, a fire broke out in the house.

Well, the judge that lived next door got a group

of New Orleans together and they broke into the house

and they found the enslaved people there were chained.

They were covered with sores.

The cook in the house allegedly started the fire.

She says, I would rather die than continue living like this.

Now, legend says today you can still hear screams coming

from the house.

You can see flashing lights in the windows.

You can smell the perfume

of the Madam LaLaurie going through the house in there.

The problem is, this is not the LaLaurie house

but the fire had not destroyed, the citizens destroyed

and that house was completely wiped out.

It was an exposed red brick house.

Only two stories in height.

After Louisiana purchased the empire style became popular

in New Orleans.

This is perhaps the best example

of that style here in the city.

What is empire about it?

Unfortunately, on the exterior, a lot

of the details have been lost.

However, the front door is exceptionally fine there

with all these empire details.

When I did the restoration of that door, it was so encrusted

with paint and the materials that composite there.

I had to get a conservative to use dental equipment to

pick the paint off the door there

so all these wonderful details could pop on it.

On the second floor of the house

you can see some of the detailing

up in there that survives from the empire style.

We see the American five point star being used as well

as the American Eagle, which can be clearly seen

on the front door of the house here, but all the doors

in this house has spectacular detailing in it.

At one time this house was owned

by Nicholas Cage, the actor.

He was very much into the occult, a story of the incident

which took place in this house.

I don't think he realized that that's not

the actual house standing today when he acquired it

but he no longer owns it.

[eerie music]

We are standing in front of Morro Castle right now.

It's named for the fortifications in Havana, Cuba.

The legend with this particular building is

that during the Spanish colonial period

the Spanish soldiers were quartered here.

Many of 'em left to go help the Americans

in the American Revolution, and some

of 'em were left back here

in New Orleans with the payroll for the military.

Those soldiers stationed here stole the Spanish gold

in the building.

When the commanding officer returned from Florida

he found that the payroll was missing.

He took the men that stole the money, hung them

on meat hooks, then staked their feet into the wall

then put live rats on their abdomen

then walled them on over in this building

except for their faces showing through the wall.

They could see the men in horror

as the rats ate their bodies from the inside the wall there.

Now, legend says

that those Spanish soldiers faces now appear in this wall.

That's more of what I call moonlight manure.

This building was never a barracks.

It was never a castle.

It was built as a residence.

I don't think it's haunted.

There's no way that this was the Spanish barracks here

because it's not built until

well until the American timeframe.

The 1830s is when the bulk

of the buildings in the French Quarter were built

and that's the timeframe of this particular building here.

The building was actually begun

in 1833 by a man from England.

He began construction on the building

and the financial panic

of 1837 nationwide caused the project to be shut down.

A subsequent developer acquired the property

and finished the building shortly thereafter.

He imported all the granite you see

on this building from Quincy, Massachusetts.

There's no stone in the entire state

of Louisiana from which to build, all of our stone

the marble, the granite, anything like that was imported

on ships into the city of New Orleans.

The building has a wonderful balcony surrounding it there

with wrought iron

on it there, and the porte-cochère gate also

has some nice wrought iron details on it there.

Wrought iron would be the earliest metals used

in New Orleans later being replaced by cast iron

which would be imported from the northeast.

The lanterns you see on the building

are recent additions to the French Quarter.

Some of 'em are electric, some of 'em are gas.

These happen to be electric here.

In the 19th century,

many buildings did not have light fixtures like this

on the exterior, the lighting was generally confined

to the interior of the structures.

[eerie music]

We're now in front of St. Louis Cathedral.

This is the third church sustained on this particular site

and it's haunted by Père Dagobert.

He was a Catholic priest, and when Spain took

over New Orleans, New Orleans were not

very happy about that.

They were worried about the Spanish Inquisition coming

to New Orleans and all.

So they later revolt against the Spanish government.

The leaders of the revolt were executed

by the Spanish government, and the bodies weren't returned

to the families.

He worked with all of the women there, obtained the bodies,

took 'em to the cathedral, had proper burial there

and then took 'em off to the cemetery.

Now today, supposedly you can hear Père Dagobert

singing the [indistinct] as he walks through the church

along the alleys in the side, bringing the bodies

to proper burials at St. Louis Cemetery.

Architecturally the cathedral is quite interesting.

It's done in the Neo-Grec style.

The architect for the church.

Dupree was trained in architecture in France.

France did not follow the Greek revival style that we use

in the United States or in Great Britain.

You can see on the church the classical elements.

The three spars are set

by the earlier church during the Spanish colonial period

which was built on the site there.

The central spar on the church was originally iron and wood

and it was open air.

When it was first built many people panned it.

They hated the design.

One historian wrote it was an upstart of bad taste.

Today it's the logo for the city of New Orleans.

We closely identify with that cathedral on Jackson Square

as the symbol of the city of New Orleans.

[eerie music]

Beauregard-Keyes name comes from general P.G.T. Beauregard

who lived in here a short period of time.

He was a Confederate general that opened fire

on Fort Sumpter starting the Civil War.

Francis Parkinson Keyes was a writer

of southern literature who lived here

and so between Beauregard and Keyes,

that's where the house takes its name from.

There are four ghost stories associated

with this particular house.

One is that General Beauregard fought against General Grant

in the battle of Shiloh.

Beauregard lost horribly there

and supposedly in the house, the bloodied soldiers come

out of the walls and try to reenact the battle of Shiloh

but they never quite get it done

and so their ghosts keep appearing

and trying to win this battle, which they never do.

The second story is also associated with the Civil War.

There was a large soiree planned

in the house in the ballroom.

When the Civil War breaks out

the men had to leave to go fight in the war

and so the soiree never took place.

So in the ballroom, supposedly the ghosts of the men

and women in these antebellum costumes appear coming out

of the walls and they have their dance in the house

and then at midnight, the ghosts disappear again.

The third story involves a mafia incident.

The family were Sicilian wine merchants

and they were blackmailed for extortion money

under the pretense of paying them the money

they invited 'em to dinner on the back porch.

The family, instead of serving dessert

stood up and shot the mafia members.

Some of 'em died on the porch,

some of 'em died on the alley there.

Now, supposedly now you get this

very strong smell of garlic.

Then these guns appear

in midair shooting the mafia members there

and then it all disappears again.

The final story takes place

because the man who built the house

grandson was Paul Morphy,

a world chess champion, can be seen playing chess

on the various porches of the house or even in the house.

Now, architecturally, it was originally planned

in a very creole manner.

A rez-de-chaussee, which is the ground floor,

au premier etage which is the principle floor

of the house and had a porch on the front and back.

Then an architect who's originally living in Baltimore,

his families are refugees

from the Santo Domingo Slave Revolt.

He eventually makes his way to New Orleans

and he tries to make the house as American as possible.

The ground floor there

you can see on the house is stuccoed, but it's scored

and we've recently had it painted an imitation of granite

which was a common thing to do.

We're in the process of restoring the building.

We're doing it all with very thorough research,

paint analysis, analysis of the stucco and so forth

and we're putting back materials that we use historically

because the new modern materials

elastomeric coating and high Portland concentrate

stucco causes damage to the buildings, and we find

that going back to the original construction techniques

the buildings can be saved for the ghosts to haunt

in the future years and so forth in the building there.

[thunder crashes]

[eerie music]