LaLaurie Mansion – New Orleans, Louisiana - Atlas Obscura
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New Orleans, Louisiana

LaLaurie Mansion

A symbolic piece of New Orleans architecture—and a ghostly legend.  

A classic New Orleans structure, the LaLaurie Mansion comes complete with its own dark legend.

The LaLaurie mansion is an unmistakable piece of New Orleans with its baroque facade, wrought iron balconies and rectangular floor plan. Located on Royal Street in the French Quarter, the mansion is at once striking in its grandeur and right at home among the many similar tenements. 

When Marie Delphine MacCarthy Blanque LaLaurie purchased the property at 1140 Royal Street in New Orleans and built a three-story mansion there in 1832, in her own name and with little involvement from her third husband, the house quickly gained a reputation as one of the grandest homes in the city’s French Quarter. It was admired for its baroque façade, wrought iron balconies, and rectangular floor plan and its massive bulk towered over most of the other houses in the neighborhood.

The mansion also included slave quarters and Madame LaLaurie soon gained a own reputation as a cruel master behind closed doors. One of LaLaurie’s neighbors reported seeing a young slave girl fall to her death from the mansion’s roof while fleeing from the Madam’s whip. Rumors ciruclated that the home’s cook was kept chained to the kitchen stove.

In 1834, a fire broke out at the LaLaurie Mansion. When area residents rushed to the scene to help, they resorted to breaking down the doors to the slave quarters after the LaLauries refused to provide the key. Inside, they found seven horribly mutilated slaves who had been imprisoned in the house for some time. When news spread of how Madame LaLaurie had treated her slaves, an angry mob descended on the mansion and destroyed everything they could get their hands on.

Although stories of what happened at the LaLaurie Mansion have been grossly exaggerated over the years, the fodder for several over-the-top horror movies, there’s no question that Madame LaLaurie was no longer welcome in New Orleans after her abuses became known. She fled the city for Paris, where she lived for the rest of her life.

The LaLaurie Mansion still stands on the corner of Royal and Governor Nicholls streets, a highlight of many New Orleans ghost tours. In the late 2000s, the house was owned for a short time by actor Nicholas Cage. Completely restored, it remains today a place of both beauty and dark intrigue.