No matter how much I learn about the New Orleans area there is always something “new” to stumble upon. A year or so ago I was looking at some photographs and saw one of a very interesting old home. One cold tell it was very grand in its day but the years had taken a toll. I was shocked to find that the “house” was in Arabi, just a few miles from downtown New Orleans. The old home that I saw in the pictures, and which I later visited, is called the LeBeau House. As with many old homes around New Orleans the LeBeau House has an interesting history – but it is hard to tell fact from fiction.
I paid a visit to the house back in the Spring and took pictures. While there I did not get the feeling that the place was haunted but then again the house has been fenced and boarded up. A boarded house is sad. It seems the windows to a house are much like the eyes of a person. The expression of the windows can say a lot about a place but when they are sealed the mind has a hard time going beyond the plywood or planks. Here is a brief history of the house:
Francoise Barthelemy LeBeau purchased the property in 1851 and soon after began construction of this home. The home was completed in 1854 and a few months later Mr. LeBeau died. That is a sad story but one befitting of a place like the LeBeau House. What better way to start a story that will last for generations! For the next 50 or so years the house remained in the family but in 1905 it was purchased from the family and it became a gambling center named Friscoville. During this time it was operated as the “Friscoville Hotel.” In 1928 the house was purchased by another group. Legal gambling was on the decline but the house lived on and was used as an illegal casino known as the “Cadone Hotel.” It served too as a boarding house for casino dealers. Since the late 1930s the house has seen little use and time and wear and vandalism have scarred the once grand house. Now the above gives an outline of the history of the house but there is more. Much more!
A house as old as the LeBeau House and in the New Orleans area has to be haunted. As I mentioned when I visited I did not feel that the place was haunted but Indeed the LeBeau House is the focal point of many local ghost stories. Legend has it that the LeBeau family had a history of mistreating slaves that worked the plantation. Sometimes punishment resulted in death and the dead slaves were buried in the adjoining fields. That wasn’t a good move as the departed slaves began to find their way to the home and they began to haunt and to torment the LeBeau family. One by one members of the LeBeau family succumbed to insanity. It is reported that two LeBeau family members hanged themselves on the second floor of the home. There are also stories of other types of strange and ghostly behavior but one of the stories comes from as recent as the 1970s. The home was rented at that time, and one of the occupants, a little girl, was thrown from a window of the fourth floor cupola. She was thrown from the cupola but not by human hands. Since then the place has not seen human occupation.
More information about the LeBeau House can be found in local books and libraries and even some old photos are in the Historic New Orleans Collection. As per taking photos, or visiting, the home is easily seen – if you can get to Arabi or Chalmette you can certainly get to the LeBeau House.