New Orleans, Louisiana: The Lalaurie Mansion

The Lalaurie mansion is notorious in America. This was once a magnificent antebellum mansion that was home to the rich and powerful Lalaurie family. Dr. Louis Lalaurie and his wife Delphine were esteemed, respected, and adored in old Orleans society. Their history in the home begins in 1832.

They constructed a masterpiece with massive chandeliers and mahogany woodwork throughout. Every piece was rich and elegant and every person in the city wanted to attend their luxurious social functions. Guests dined on the finest food, were surrounded with the richest fabrics and upholsteries, and were treated to a variety of epicurean delights.

But, something wasn’t as it should be. The initial suspicions were merely that. After all, Dr. Lalaurie was successful and his wife was a beautiful woman and a gracious hostess. Yet, visitors began noticing that slaves were being brought to the home far more frequently than they should. Many neighbors begin noticing that old familiar faces amid the slaves at the mansion were vanishing. No word as to what happened to them or acknowledgment from the family as to where they went.

The end of the Lalaurie power began with a neighbor witnessing Madam Lalaurie in some very unladylike behavior. She was chasing a slave girl through the house, screaming and brandishing a whip. The neighbor continued watching from afar as Delphine eventually emerged behind the girl. She’d ran to the roof with the Mad Madam right behind her. The girl jumped to her death from the roof. The neighbor was horrified and continued watching. The buried the girl in a shallow grave in the backyard.

This was the final fact that brought the authorities in. New Orleans had anti-cruelty laws at that time for slaves. This prominent family was not only forced to relinquish their slaves, they were forbidden from owning them. Madam Lalaurie was unapologetic and had relatives buy their slaves when they went to be auctioned. She then purchased the slaves back from her relatives without drawing attention.

Activities continued as usual at the mansion, but people were starting to change. Suddenly, invitations were returned, people began having serious doubts about the once-favored family. People didn’t want to be involved with them.

Shortly after their social importance began to decline, a fire broke out in the home. It quickly spread and the authorities rushed to the scene. Once the fire was extinguished, the macabre and hideous secrets of the Lalaurie family came to light. A group of firefighters were inspecting the damage to the attic when they found a locked and secured door.

They had to see every room in order to properly ascertain the damage so they broke into this one. What they found sent most of them fleeing the scene. Madam Lalaurie was a human butcher of Nazi proportions.

Slaves were found chained to the walls. Some were in the middle of hideous “experiments” that had left them permanently disfigured. Many had been locked in tiny cages. One victim had their limbs broken and reset in bizarre angles. Some had their mouths sewn shut. Some accounts stated that the Lalaurie family had a make shift operating chamber inside that room and there were human organs cast across the floor.

Those who did survive the Lalaurie family were handicapped. Several asked to be killed because they were in such pain.

Anger overtook the city. A few nights later, a lynch mob formed outside the mansion to bring some justice to the prominent family. As they were gathering, a carriage rammed through the gate to the home and raced into the night.

The Lalaurie family vanished. The angry mob attacked the home, stripped it, and vandalized the building. It fell into ruin.

Nothing more is known or documented of the Lalaurie family. Rumors came that they fled to neighboring towns and were sheltered by relatives. Others stated they left the country and traveled back to France. They were never brought to justice.

The building passed from owner to owner. No one could keep it for any length of time. Businesses also attempted to use the building, but they couldn’t remain any length of time, either. There have been reports of paranormal activity in the building since the Lalaurie family fled in the night.

Nearly a century passed before it was purchased by individuals who turned it into luxurious, upscale apartments. During the renovation to change the home into these fine living facilities, a room in the back of the house had to be repaired. When workers pulled up the original boards, they found an entire graveyard of bodies. It was assumed that this was the final resting place for all the slaves who had vanished. The horrors of the attic room are usually blamed on Madam Lalaurie, although, we will never know if her husband, who was the doctor, was helping her in these cruel and inhumane atrocities.

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