A New Orleans ghost tour is a must-do for most travelers to the legendary city; after all, it is considered one of the most haunted places in the entire world. The lush greenery and wrought iron balustrades of the Garden District are unrivaled in their splendor, the laughter of Bourbon Street invites all to participate in its raucous traditions, and down the eerie, lantern-lit corridors of the French Quarter, a ghostly invitation awaits. Rife with legends of voodoo queens, historic cemeteries, and haunted mansions, New Orleans whispers of hidden stories that lurk behind walls and beneath unsuspecting feet.
Now New Orleans invites you, its next visitor, to discover its darker past.
Join us as for our latest series as we discover New Orleans’ Haunted Mansions.
New Orleans Haunted Mansions: The Vampire of Royal Street
In the coming weeks, we will go deeper into some of the most enchanting of New Orleans ghostly history by examining its many haunted mansions. It should be said that there are enough haunted mansions in New Orleans to fill a book, and it will soon become evident why New Orleans has inspired some of the greatest spooky icons in pop culture. Consider Disneyland’s celebrated “Haunted Mansion” ride, housed within an antebellum-style manor that sits right in the heart of New Orleans Square. Or consider Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire and Mayfair Witches series—her stories are richly drawn against the backdrop of real ghostly mansions in New Orleans.
Indeed, strange stories seem to find a different life in New Orleans, and that life bears a strange resemblance to the truth.
Today, we explore the mystery of one of the most photographed homes in the historic French Quarter. While it doesn’t strictly fit within the definition of a “haunted mansion” it deserves a place on this list once you know its story. You can decide what to believe of the man who is indelibly intertwined with it; whether he was a madman, a brilliant con-artist, New Orleans’ very own vampire, we leave you to decide.
The story begins in the French Quarter, on the corner of Ursuline and Royal street…
The Peculiar Origin Story of one New Orleans Vampire
The story of New Orleans’ most famous vampire resident begins hundreds of years ago, with the Comte de Saint Germain. He was a real person, history does not dispute that. History books say he was born in 1712 and died in 1782—but, to the Comte, these were mere technicalities. According to the Comte de Saint Germain’s account of his own life; he was immortal.
It was said he had other skills besides immortality, perhaps less wondrous but still rather impressive, including philosophy, music, languages, and even alchemy. The Comte even boasted he could remove blemishes from diamonds.
Casanova, a legend in his own right, didn’t know what to make of the mysterious Comte:
This extraordinary man, intended by nature to be the king of impostors and quacks, would say in an easy, assured manner that he was three hundred years old, that he knew the secret of the Universal Medicine, that he possessed a mastery over nature, that he could melt diamonds… In spite of my knowledge of what he was and in spite of my own feelings, I thought him an astonishing man as he was always astonishing me.
The Comte continued to astonish those he met. During his life, he encountered the most fascinating people of Europe’s glittering elite, many who wrote of their memorable encounters with the man.
It might come as a letdown to some that the Comte’s death was rather uneventful. He spent his last years working in a factory laboratory, funded by a Prince who believed in his alchemy experiments enough to sponsor him. Such endeavors were unfruitful, and on February 27, 1784, the Comte died in his residence. His estate was unremarkable–it included basic sundries such as toothbrushes and belt buckles. The Comte had perished with no fanfare, causing barely a ripple in the storybooks.
Or had he?
The Truth About New Orleans’ Resident Vampire
In 1902 a man by the name of Jacques Saint Germain arrived in New Orleans’ French Quarter. He claimed to be a descendant of the very same Comte de Saint Germain, whom he also bore an uncanny resemblance to. Like his purported ancestor, he was incredibly gifted in the arts and languages; he masterfully wove stories that enchanted socialites of New Orleans’ upper crust.
Indeed, Jacque was charming, charismatic, but most important of all—he was fabulously rich. His parties flowed with wine and fine foods that never ceased. Nobody seemed to notice that, curiously, Jacques himself never partook of the fine delicacies he so generously offered to his guests.
The accounts of what follows vary: in some versions of the story, there is a young woman in attendance at one of Jacques’ glittering soirees. In yet another account, she is a prostitute. Still another version insists Jacque met her at a local pub. Whoever the young woman was, the story ends much the same.
It seems the unfortunate woman found herself alone with Jacques inside his house on Royal Street. Perhaps she was admiring one of his many beautiful trinkets, or a fine piece of china—whatever the distraction, she soon found her admiration was about to cost her dearly. It would almost cost her her very life.
Jacques attacked her, specifically her neck (whether with teeth or a knife is also up for dispute). In the end, he finally revealed the true source of his disputed immortality—he was a vampire, and she was to be his next victim.
Terrified, the young lady jumped out a balcony window in desperation—and in at least one additional gruesome detail, she is said to have broken both of her legs. Jacque blamed alcohol for the unfortunate incident. She blamed his lust for her blood. Before the police could investigate the rather bizarre claims the next morning, Jacques had vanished.
He did leave behind a rather unusual smattering of clues, including clothes that dated back centuries; some even showed peculiar stains that looked like blood. The most criminal clue? Jacques’ rather unusual wine collection, which turned out to be laced with human blood.
The Comte might have disappeared from New Orleans, but he would continue to make appearances around the world throughout the 20th century. Some even insist he is still alive today, and that his immortality extends back to the time of Christ.
Today, the New Orleans mansion that houses this story is one of the most photographed in all of New Orleans; visitors delight in the local lore. Tour guides often point out the bricked-up window on a higher balcony; it is where the unfortunate woman of our story allegedly jumped from the balcony, they explain.
Whether this vampire story is fact, fiction, or a combination of the two, we’ll leave you to judge. In any case, it seems it seems this particular “haunted mansion” is now taunted by a different sort of specter. For recent owners, the peskiest ghosts that haunt their New Orleans’ home seem to be the tourists, who leave nose prints on the windows. Everyone, it seems, is aching to get a glimpse inside the home that once housed a real vampire.