Houmas House Ghosts (and The Bachelor TV Show)

A recent episode of the American TV series, The Bachelor, was filmed at Houmas House in Louisiana.

Ghost orbs at Houmas House (Louisiana)
Orbs hover at historic (and haunted) Houmas House, LA (This is my own photo, during my stay at the site.)

Many people have written to me, asking if that house is really “one of Louisiana’s most haunted houses.”

The answer is: yes, Houmas House is very haunted. More than most Louisiana “haunted” houses, and perhaps more than most houses in America.

In fact, I once recorded a lengthy podcast about Houmas House. I need to update before restoring it, online.

Until I do, this article should answer most questions.

Houmas House’s ghosts don’t bear much resemblance to the way they were presented in The Bachelor.

In fact, I strongly object to how Houmas House — and its spirits — were portrayed in that show.

My husband and I had the honor of spending a night inside Houmas House, thanks to the hospitality of its owner, Kevin Kelly.

He knew that I would thoroughly investigate the house, unsupervised. He also knew that I’d write a blunt and honest review of what I did (and didn’t) find there.

He put no limits on what I could explore, day or night. He was a superb host, and — after a tour to show us what was where, and explain some of the house’s history — he let us wander around the house & its grounds.

I was impressed.

Houmas House is haunted for many reasons

I believe the house is truly haunted, and the energy comes from multiple sources.

First, there’s the history of the house. That includes its connection to the creation of what’s often called the Confederate flag, from the War between the States.

The house has also been the scene of several tragedies, including the loss of a family cemetery that was washed away in the early 20th century.

Then, there’s the energy that’s been brought to the house by the public. I believe that public perception can energize otherwise dormant spiritual energy. (It’s sort of like the Law of Attraction. If you believe a place is creepy and haunted, maybe your beliefs & energy contribute to it.)

The movie “Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte” left Houmas House with a lasting connection to ghosts, madness, and gruesome events.

Yes, that movie was filmed at Houmas House. If you saw The Bachelor episode, you may recognize the style of the staircase in the following movie trailer.

Next, I believe Houmas House contains a larger-than-average collection of haunted objects.

From quirky artwork to antique “vampire hunter” kits, to some of Anne Rice’s furniture, objects at Houmas House provide an energy mix you won’t find in many other haunts, anywhere in the world.

The other structures — small cabins, etc., that may (or may not) still be on the property — also provide reasons why the site is haunted. They have their own stories to tell. And, their energy lingers.

And finally, the location of Houmas House — near a large body of water, and where it’s placed on the road, in energy (or feng shui) terms — makes it a prime location for paranormal reports.

Some of the house’s eeriness can be attributed to infrasound from the nearby water. However, even if I discount the “creepy feeling” that seems to drift through Houmas House from time to time, infrasound can’t explain everything odd I experienced at the site.

During my visit to Houmas House, I saw several ghosts, mostly during the day.

The tall man at the front gate

In broad daylight on a sunny day, I saw a ghostly figure at the front gates. Another guest saw him, as well. We were up on the “widow’s walk” viewing deck at the top of the house.

The figure looked like a distinctive, slim, very tall man, pacing back and forth as if waiting for someone.

When I mentioned him to Kevin Kelly, he showed me an old photo. The dark-skinned man in the picture was an exact match for the slightly translucent person I’d seen at the front gates.

I had no doubt that it was the same person.

And, since I think I was the first person to report seeing that ghost, there’s no way Kevin was prepared to provide supporting evidence. (In fact, he had to go looking for the photo. When I confirmed what I’d seen, I think Kevin was more surprised than I was.)

The little girl on the stairs

Visitors and construction workers (making repairs and renovations) have reported a little girl on the house’s distinctive spiral staircase.

Kevin showed me one photo that I didn’t think was credible. But, I’ve heard and read other reports of the figure, and those were believable.

During my visit, I sensed something on the stairs, but I can’t claim that I saw a convincing apparition.

The ghost in the Bette Davis room

I believe that I saw a reflection of a reflection of a little girl in the room where actress Bette Davis had slept during the filming of Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte.

The reflection appeared on the glass front of a clock in that room.

I turned to see who was behind me. That’s when I saw the reflection of a little girl across the room. She was very small, no more than about five years old… maybe slightly older, if she was particularly petite.

She was there… and then she was gone. All I can tell you is that I had the idea that one of her arms was injured or even deformed. It’s as if she was concealing it.

As I recall, I saw her in a mirror in that room. But, I’ll need to find my notes (and my old photos from that visit) to confirm that.

Kevin didn’t seem to think that Bette Davis experienced anything unusual when she slept in that room.

However, any ghost with an ounce of sense would stay far away from Ms. Davis. She was known for being strong-willed and sharp-tongued. She would not willingly share her room with a ghost.

Those are the ghosts I clearly recall from my visit to Houmas House. (My husband and I slept soundly in a guest room on the top floor of the house. If that floor was haunted, the ghosts didn’t disturb me that night.)

The Bachelor TV show… and poor production decisions

The Houmas House episode of The Bachelor was embarrassing to watch.

From the start, I was skeptical when the ghostly little girl was given a name, “May.”

Perhaps someone has successfully documented the ghost’s identity, but the Houmas House website doesn’t suggest that.

Then, the doll that they showed in the glass case did not seem to fit the correct time period. (Also, the staging with “Boo” outside, saying that someone had disturbed the doll… it seemed added as an after-thought. It didn’t make much sense.)

When Houmas House’s lights suddenly went out, and then when the chandelier seemed to crash (almost) to the floor, I was ready to stop watching the show.

Those kinds of things don’t happen in most truly haunted houses. Most of the time, they’re staged for silly movies and TV shows.

My biggest complaint was related to the Ouija board scene.

Yes, the letters had been painted white. That doesn’t make the board any less dangerous.

There is no way I’d allow anyone to use a Ouija board at a haunted site, unless everyone involved knew exactly what the risks might be.

(I’m not saying that Ouija boards are inherently evil. My personal issue with Ouija boards is that too many people use them for “fun,” not realizing that some divination tools open doors. Once a door is opened, an unprotected person can be at risk.)

Ouija board issues

In the following YouTube video (actually, an audio with video added later), John Zaffis talks about his experiences with Zozo and Ouija boards.

(I’ve known John Zaffis for about 20 years, and I respect him. He’s very different from how he was portrayed on the Haunted Collector TV show. If I’d ever considered accepting a role on a ghost-related TV show… well, after seeing how they edited John, there’s no way I’d put my reputation in the hands of TV producers.)

Also, in this video, that silliness about Aleister Crowley using the Sun symbol as something evil, and other text & images added to the video…? Ignore them. I’m including this video only for John’s description of the Zozo phenomenon.

And, since I mentioned the weird, strange, and possibly haunted objects at Houmas House, here’s a video of John Zaffis sharing his views on that topic.

I don’t agree with him on all points, but I definitely defer to his greater experience in the field of dangerous haunted objects, and demon-like entities.

Houmas House is worth visiting

Despite my skepticism and irritation with how Houmas House was portrayed on The Bachelor, the site is definitely worth visiting.

That’s not just because you might encounter a ghost in broad daylight.

It’s also because the house is magnificent, it has a fascinating history, and it represents an era (and architecture) you rarely see so well-preserved, anywhere in the South.

[When I find my old notes & photos related to Houmas House’s ghosts, I’ll add them at this website. For now, this summary should explain why I believe the house is haunted… and why you shouldn’t judge it by what was shown on The Bachelor.]

[LA] – New Orleans – Brennan’s Restaurant – Ghostly Ecto?

Ecto-like image over Brennan's RestaurantWhen there’s a normal explanation for a photo, I want to find it.  Sometimes, I can’t discover a good explanation.  Not one that works for the setting and the circumstances, that is.

That’s the case with this July 2005 photo at Brennan’s Restaurant on Royal Street in New Orleans’ French Quarter.

I’ve written about Brennan’s Red Room ghosts.  The photo, above, is completely unedited.  I didn’t even lighten it.  The picture was taken in July 2005, about a month before Hurricane Katrina.

It was a clear night, drier than most July nights in Louisiana.  However, because it was July, I’m discounting the orbs near the light-colored area.  I’m focusing on the light area itself. (No light-related puns intended.)

It was too hot to be using a fireplace, and Brennan’s kitchen is in another part of the building and fully enclosed.  There was no mist above Brennan’s, so that’s not a reflection of the street lights.  In fact, we didn’t see anything unusual when I took this picture.  It was one of those ‘gut feeling’ photos… that innate, perhaps intuitive feeling that something would show up if I took a few pictures.

We were across the street from Brennan’s, so my flash was too far away to highlight the air above the restaurant.  There were no skylights or spotlights that night, either.

If the light area were caused by something natural, we should have seen this ecto-looking area ourselves.

So, I’m not sure what the light area is.  It’s almost directly above the room where, years ago, workmen in Brennan’s saw a terrifying face outside the window.  (Those burly workmen were so frightened, they ran down the stairs and broke out through the locked doors.  They never returned to Brennan’s.)

Sometimes, anomalies in photos are simply odd.  There may be an explanation for this picture, but we can’t be sure.  For every ‘normal’ explanation,  at least three of us can argue convincingly that the normal explanation doesn’t fit the time, location and conditions of the photo.

I’m reluctant to label this ‘ecto’, because it could be something else.  However, it’s the subtle kind of anomaly that’s easily overlooked when you’re expecting orbs, a vortex, or something more dramatic.

For many of us, the subtle anomalies can be more interesting than the obvious ones.

[TX] Houston – Spaghetti Warehouse – Scary Guy’s Portrait

One legendary “haunted” Houston picture is actually a huge portrait that is displayed on the second floor of the haunted downtown restaurant, the Spaghetti Warehouse at 901 Commerce Street, Houston, Texas.  We started calling him “Mr. Creepy” and “scary guy,” almost as soon as we saw the portrait.

NOT the haunted portrait – This is President Wm. Taft.

It looks a lot like President William Howard Taft (March 4, 1909 – March 4, 1913), shown at right.  Many people have suggested that the haunted portrait is the late president, when he was younger.

A few of us have been trying to analyze the picture at the Spaghetti Warehouse, and cannot figure out why this portrait is so troubling. As you can see, we’ve tweaked the contrast and colors, and nothing clearly presents itself to us.

Sure, we can see the ‘bleeding eyes’ effect, but… we think there may be more than that.

If you can see anything especially odd in this photo, or explain why it’s giving some of our researchers nightmares, please comment, below.

The ghosts at the Spaghetti Warehouse are pleasant and playful; it’s not a scary place at all. However, this portrait is very odd, and we’d love to understand why it’s bothering us.

Thank you!

This is how the portrait really looks.

The following photos are modified versions. I created them with Photoshop, partly for fun.

Mostly, I was hoping to make sense of why a stained portrait should be so troubling. I mean, we see stained and damaged photos and artwork at many neglected haunted sites.

So, it doesn’t make much sense that an old picture should interest us so much, but… it does.

Inverted image — like a negative of the original.
Same photo, enhanced with blue.
Another version of that same photo, enhanced with red.

 

[LA] New Orleans – Brennan’s Red Room Ghosts

Brennan's red roomBrennan’s Restaurant on Royal Street in New Orleans’ French Quarter is well respected as a world-class restaurant. “Breakfast at Brennan’s” has become a Louisiana tradition for visitors as well as locals who enjoy fabulous food in a relaxed but elegant setting.

Upstairs at Brennan’s, the Red Room is famous for its ghosts.

According to a legend dating to the 18th century, Monsieur Lefleur calmly went out one morning and arranged for three funerals. Upon returning home, he killed his wife and his son before hanging himself from the sturdy chandelier in the center of the Red Room.

Portraits of the three decorate the walls of that room.

It’s unclear if M. Lefleur’s ghost is among the spirits at Brennan’s charming restaurant, or if the Red Room is haunted by the ghosts of the murder victims, Mme Lefleur and her son.

Day or night, you can feel a “cold spot” over the lovely fireplace in the Red Room, using just your hands. (Before you decide you’ve felt a “cold spot,” make sure it’s not a downdraft from the chimney. If it’s a chilly day or evening, ask if the flue is open.)

In addition to the cold spot, the portrait of M. Lefleur seems to change expression every time you glance at it. I took several photos of the portrait, but as M. Lefleur’s smile changed to a sinister grimace, my camera had problems and the pictures turned murky.

Below, you can see a series of my photos taken one evening in July 2005. I had to increase the contrast on the right two so that the face could be seen online. Other than that, I did not alter them at all. They are all the same portrait.

M. LeFleur brennans-face2brennans-face4

 

Yes, this is one of those “either you see it or you don’t” set of images. Not everyone will see the changes between the pictures. Some will blame it on the lighting. (It also helps if you’ve seen the portrait in real life, so you know have a frame of reference for these photos… no pun intended.)

As I watched, Monsieur Lefleur’s face seemed to change from posed to vulnerable (or perhaps younger), and then a troubled grimace tightened his lips. It turned slightly sneering, and slightly distasteful. Finally, he looked anguished or perhaps angry… even sinister.

If you dine at Brennan’s — which I highly recommend — and have an opportunity to visit the Red Room, keep checking the portrait of M. Lefleur and see if his expression changes.

The painting’s transformation isn’t as dramatic as the special effects at Disney’s “Haunted Mansion” attraction, but I wonder if Brennan’s painting inspired Disney’s imagineers.

(If the Red Room isn’t in use, Brennan’s staff may allow visitors upstairs to see if the Red Room is active with ghosts.  The room is usually haunted, but even ghosts take a break now & then.)

Brennan’s is among New Orleans’ most haunted sites, and M. Lefleur isn’t its only spirit. The restaurant is haunted by a dedicated former chef, as well as an old woman who paces the corridor outside the Red Room.

Brennan’s serves some of the best food in the world. If you want to splurge on one elegant meal while you’re in New Orleans, Brennan’s is the place to go.

(When you’re there, you may see movie stars a adjoining tables. Be discreet. Don’t stare or ask for autographs. Just enjoy your meal… and the restaurant’s ghosts.)

Brennan’s Restaurant, 417 Royal Street — in the French Quarter, New Orleans, Louisiana. Phone (504) 525-9711. http://www.brennansneworleans.com/

Brennan’s Red Room and exterior photos are courtesy of Brennan’s Restaurant (c)2005. The three photos of the Lefleur portrait are (c)2005 Fiona Broome.

The changing facial expressions are courtesy of Monsieur Lefleur’s ghost, New Orleans, Louisiana.