HISTORY

  • Cierra Chenier

Horror on Royal: The LaLaurie Mansion


The LaLaurie Mansion


The infamous LaLaurie Mansion carries a horrifying legacy rooted in the enslavement, hatred, and cruelty.

Background

At 1140 Royal Street stands the former home of Madame Marie Delphine LaLaurie, a wealthy, white Creole New Orleans socialite. She was married three times and was widowed two of the three times. Marie and her third husband, Dr. Louis LaLaurie, would host elegant parties and dinners at their mansion. Marie LaLaurie was regarded as the most influential French Creole woman of that era.


Delphine LaLaurie

Dozens of enslaved people lived in the LaLaurie Mansion, those of which were cruelly mistreated by her(she kept her seventy-year-old cook chained to the kitchen stove). One day, LaLaurie was getting her hair brushed by a young, enslaved girl. She mistakenly brushed too hard and was chased by LaLaurie with a whip. In fear of the beating, the child jumped to her death from the balcony of the mansion. Neighbors heard the screams and called the authorities when they saw LaLaurie burying the young girl in her courtyard. A local law at the time prohibited the cruelty of slaves (as if enslavement wasn't cruel enough) and LaLaurie was forced to sell her remaining slaves at an auction. Fortunately for her, she had relatives buy these human beings and sell them back to her.


Horror on Royal

In 1834, a fire broke out in the LaLaurie home. Legend goes that the chained cook started the fire as a suicide attempt. Once firefighters entered, they followed a horrible odor and kicked down the door of the attic. They were horrified by what they saw:


More than a dozen male and female slaves were found in cages, chained to the walls, and mutilated. One man had a hole drilled in his head, with maggots crawling from the wound. Some had their stomachs cut open with intestines wrapped around their bodies. Others had feces stuffed in their mouths with their lips sewed shut. Some were found bent in a crab-like state, had body parts missing, and/or their eyeballs gauged out. They had iron masks on their heads so that they couldn't eat, and spikes on their necks so that they couldn't lay down to sleep. Those that were still alive begged to be put out of their misery.

Once word got around town, a mob of people (those of which also owned slaves)formed outside of the mansion calling for the execution of Madame LaLaurie. A carriage fled out of the mansion gates and was never seen again. Allegedly, LaLaurie fled to Paris and died due to unclear circumstances.


Haunted Legacy

A number of strange events have been recorded years after the findings of Madame LaLaurie's torture chamber: loud screams, unexplainable noises, figures of former enslaved people, etc. A number of residents, students, and visitors have vanished unexpectedly, been physically attacked by unexplainable forces, found items missing, or were found dead in the mansion. The home has served as a site of everything from a school and bar, to a home and furniture store. Today, the current owner(s) do not allow tours of the home. However, several French Quarter tour guides provide tours from the outside of the mansion.

Society often expounds on the obvious roles of European men in slavery, but rarely touch on the acts of cruelty by European women of the era. The life of Madame Marie Delphine LaLaurie is a clear example of a woman who was not only complacent with the institution of slavery, but went as far as to torture and mutilate enslaved people out of none other than pure hatred. The haunted tales surrounding this home are nothing compared to the brutality suffered by those who were wronged here, and who continue to ensure that their voices be heard and remembered.

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