Saturday, February 27, 2010

For Sale: Haunted LaLaurie Mansion, Once Owned By Nicolas Cage

move - One of the two New Orleans mansions once owned by actor Nicolas Cage has everything you could want in a historic building – and then some. It comes with its own ghosts. And not just one.

The property at 1140 Royal Street in the French Quarter, which Cage lost in foreclosure last fall, is the infamous LaLaurie Mansion, reportedly one of the most haunted houses in the city, if not America.

The house’s notorious past began with the arrival in 1832 of Dr. Louis LaLaurie, a prominent dentist, and his wife Delphine. While Delphine was considered a charming hostess to the city’s elite with her weekly parties, her inhumane treatment of slaves was noticed by neighbors, who witnessed her chasing a young girl on the balcony. Accounts say the girl fell to her death and was quickly buried on the property.

A judge ordered the slaves removed from the LaLaurie’s property (although relatives bought them and returned them to her).

In April 1834, a slave chained to a stove in the kitchen started a fire. When the fire brigade came to extinguish the blaze, they reportedly made a gruesome discovery in the attic involving the mutilation and torture of at least a half-dozen slaves.

The New Orleans Bee, the newspaper of the time, reported that seven chained and mutilated slaves were found on the property. Though the paper compared the atrocities to those committed by Roman emperors Domitian, Nero and Caligula, it did not describe the later lurid details of the LaLaurie legend.

Nonetheless, a mob descended on the home and the LaLauries fled New Orleans, never to be heard from again. A copper plate was found in the early 1900s by a sexton of the city’s St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 with Delphine’s name on it as well as when and where she died – April 1842 in Paris.

Since then, the mansion has been the site of many hauntings, according to residents throughout the years, and human remains were found under the floorboards during a renovation. Cage himself acknowledged its past.

“(It’s) in the Vieux Carre – which is called the French Quarter,” he said in an interview. “It’s a very notorious house, it’s a very famous house – meaning it’s allegedly the most severely haunted house in the United States of America… that’s what they tell me. So at any given moment, I have five or six ghosts surrounding the house, all looking up at this haunted temple, and I’m in there.”

Cage bought the 10,284-square-foot , 6-bedroom, 7-bath house in 2007 for $3.5 million and put it for sale in 2008. He lost both of his New Orleans properties in November of last year in foreclosure. A financial group bought the Royal Street house for $2.3 million.

This second New Orleans house is located in the Garden District and was once owned by author Anne Rice, who wrote “Interview with the Vampire” and other novels in the Vampire Chronicles series.

It is also for sale, listed at $2.9 million. The 13,176-square-foot house was once Our Mother of Perpetual Help Chapel.

Talk about angels and demons. Cage owned them both.

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