The Beauregard-Keyes House
is a designated National Landmark...
THE PHANTOM ARMY OF THE FRENCH QUARTER: THE HAUNTED BEAUREGARD HOUSE!
During the daylight hours, the Beauregard-Keyes House in New Orleans French Quarter plays host to visitors and tourists from across the country, all stopping in to see its rooms with antiques and artifacts of the past. But some say at night, after the tourists and guides have left for the day, other visitors come to this house... spectral travelers from a time long past. The sounds of gunshots and cannon fire fill the air... the sounds of screaming and men and horses howling in agony as the battlefields of the Civil War are recreated inside the walls of this house!
One of the very first reputedly haunted houses I ever visited was the Beauregard House in New Orleans. I couldnt have been more than 11 or 12 years old and I remember walking the streets of the French Quarter with my parents and a battered copy of Richard Winers HAUNTED HOUSES in my back pocket. I must have read the chapter about New Orleans at least 20 times on the trip to the city and I have never returned to the Big Easy without that same (much more worse for wear) copy of the book in my possession. It is my own New Orleans ghost hunting ritual, I suppose.
But that day was special... it was my first time in the Crescent City and I was determined not to miss a thing. I badgered my parents into taking me to St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 and past Madame Lalauries mansion on Royal Street. I found the cottage where Marie Laveau once lived and finally, just 2 blocks from our hotel, I discovered the Beauregard House.
I wish that I could tell you that something unearthly happened that day... but it didnt. Still, I will never forget the feeling that I had walking up the steps and into the building. My first real haunted house! I think it was at that moment that I knew what I wanted to do with my life. It took me many more years and a number of different paths to get here, but I eventually returned to what I felt was my true calling.
A little sentimental? Perhaps, but I have never forgotten this particular house and each time I recall it, I remember that afternoon, that book and the city of New Orleans. The house was part of a life-changing experience for me, so it makes me proud to present it here on this page for you.
General Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard was one of the leading generals of the Confederate Army. He was the man who gave the order to fire upon Fort Sumpter in April of 1861, he was responsible for the stunning southern victory at Bull Run and will always be remembered as for both his successes and his failures...like the terrible defeat at Shiloh. After the war, the general returned to New Orleans and settled into the house at 1113 Chartres Street in the French Quarter. He took a position as a chief engineer for a railroad, became involved with a streetcar company, became the supervisor for drawings of the Louisiana State Lottery and wrote three books about the Civil War.
There is no record that the house was haunted before the general's death in 1893, or for many years afterward... but it did become the scene of death and tragedy a short time later.
In 1909, the house was purchased by the Giacona family, a well-to-do Italian clan who were known for their dinner parties and gala affairs. One night, neighbors reported hearing the sounds of gunshots and angry shouting at the house. When the police arrived, they found three men dead and a fourth man wounded. The victims were identified as members of the Mafia and it was learned the Giacona's had been victims of an attempted extortion plot. When the family wouldn't pay off, mobsters came after them but the family was ready and killed the would-be assassins.
The attempt to wipe out the family was repeated several times in the years that followed and the Giacona's maintained the house like a fortress. Finally, in the early 1920's, they moved on to more peaceful territory.
In 1925, the new owners of the house decided to convert it into a macaroni factory. A number of concerned residents in the area became worried about the loss of this historic site and an association was formed to buy the house and turn it into a museum to General Beauregard and the Civil War. It later became a National Historic Site.
In the years following World War II, rumors began to surface about the sounds of men in battle coming from the house and from the garden behind it. The sounds were not those of modern arms either... but the sounds of Civil War period pistols, muskets and cannons.
What was going on at the house? Could the residual energies of the Giacona family have been left behind at the house, leaving an imprint on the atmosphere because of the violence that took place? Or could the Civil War itself have left behind an impression... even though no battles had ever taken place at, or even near, the house? Or stranger still... could the books written by General Beauregard have left an impression behind? Perhaps the general's vivid recollections of bloody battles like Shiloh had, in some strange way actually created their own "ghosts"? Could this be possible?
No one knows for sure and the people who manage the house aren't talking. Like many other historic sites in America, the staff members deny that anything strange takes place at the house. The director of the house in 1977, Alma H. Neal, denied all of the stories in an interview. "We do not know of anything supernatural taking place here," she said. Recent tour guides claim the stories are "old wives tales". But are they really?
Do the ghosts of Italian mobsters and Civil War soldiers really haunt the Beauregard house? Try walking down Chartres Street sometime late at night..... and make sure that you listen closely to the sounds of the night!
You never know what you might hear!!
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COPYRIGHT 2000 BY TROY TAYLOR. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.