The Lalaurie Mansion has one of the most notorious reputations in New Orleans because the wife of the owner of the mansion was considered to be a murderess. Delphine Macarty was born sometime in the late 1700's. Her parents were supposedly killed years later in an uprising of slaves. This may have been the explanation for Delphine's strange behavior in later years. She was married and widowed twice before becoming the wife of Dr. Louis Lalaurie.
They purchased the mansion in 1831 at 1140 Royal Street. She enjoyed a glorious reputation as a great hostess and everyone attended her extravagant parties. She had relatives in government and all the most notable people were the Lalaurie's friends. The Lalaurie Mansion is considered to be haunted because of all the tragedies that apparently took place in the house.
Delphine showed a completely different face to her acquaintances than she did to her slaves. There is a story about the mansion and its history in the book Haunted New Orleans. It chronicles the Mistress of Death: The Haunted History of Madame Lalaurie. Mrs. Lalaurie was a very influential person in New Orleans and very intelligent as well.
The mansion was opulent for the times even though the outside was very modest looking. Inside the three stories there are mahogany doors that have been carved by hand. They are decorated with flowers and faces. There are chandeliers that lit the home with great illumination. Many items for the household were purchased in Europe.
The mansion was kept in pristine condition by many slaves. They were found to be treated very badly by the lady of the mansion. For many years nothing was said when the slaves in the house or stable would disappear. It wasn't until a neighbor heard the screams of the young girl and noticed Mrs. Lalaurie chasing a young slave with a whip. The two continued up to the roof of the mansion where the girl jumped to her death. While the neighbor didn't see anyone bury the slave she did see a grave under one of the trees in the Lalaurie yard.
New Orleans had laws that would keep the slaves from cruelty by their owners. After the neighbor reported the young girl's death the authorities decided to look into the treatment of the Lalaurie slaves. They took the slaves away and later sold them at the local auction. Unfortunately for the slaves it was a relative of Mrs. Lalaurie that purchased them. They were secretly resold to the Madame of the mansion.
A fire in 1834 in the kitchen at the Lalaurie Mansion proved the allegations of inhuman treatment of the slaves and was brought to light. The cook who was chained to the stove was thought to have started the fire to get the authorities attention. What was found in the attic of the mansion was gruesome. Most of the slaves were dead and all of them had been tortured in some manner. The family disappeared and no one is sure if they lived in the surrounding area of New Orleans or if they fled to Paris.