Gardette-LaPrete House

In the French Quarter, you'll find a four story Greek Revival house unlike any other. It's not the architecture or wrought-iron laced balcony that sets it apart from the rest. Gruesome murders turned a wealthy vacation home in to legend.

Gardette-LePrete House in 1937
The house was built in 1836 for a dentist from Philadelphia named Joseph Coulton Gardette who later sold it to Jean Baptiste LaPrete, a Creole and wealthy plantation owner, who bought the pink house as a vacation home. LaPrete invested a lot of time and money, transforming the residence in to a suitable place for his family. LaPrete decided to rent it for extra money when he began to fall on hard times after the Civil War. LaPrete would later lose the house to the bank.

A mysterious young man allegedly from Turkey approached LaPrete inquiring about renting his residence. An agreement was made and the man moved in with his treasure, harem of women and eunuchs. No one knows for sure who the man was, but he came to be known as "The Sultan". There are theories this man wasn't a sultan but actually, a brother of The Sultan.

Adjustments were made to the house upon his arrival. Doors and windows were covered and blocked. The balconies were closed off. The iron gates were chained and locked. Guards with curved daggers patrolled outside the house regularly. Soon, the air was filled with smell of incense, music and laughter, trickling from the house every night. It is said "The Sultan's" harem was complete with women of all ages and sizes and men as well as young boys. Some say he went as far as to kidnap women and tortured them until they gave in to his pleasures.

One night, the usual rowdy sounds turned to screams. Many people in the neighborhood were conditioned to "The Sultan's" parties and didn't give it a second thought. It took neighbors walking by the following morning to notice something was wrong. The gate was unlocked as it never was. Upon closer inspection, they noticed blood trickles of blood oozing from under the front door. It sent them running to notify the police. Knocks went unanswered, green-lighting their forced entry in to the house. Their eyes fell on one of the most gruesome sights ever. Blood coated the floors and walls. Body parts of "The Sultan's" harem and guards were strewn about and was later determined they were all raped prior to dismemberment. "The Sultan", however, was not among them. Police wandered out in to the garden to find a hand sticking out of the soil. "The Sultan" had been buried alive. Their killers were never determined.

Who could commit such a crime? There have been two persistent theories. The first puts the blame on pirates. Some claimed to have seen a pirate ship docked briefly in New Orleans at the time of the murders. Pirates were a part of Louisiana culture and the treasure "The Sultan" kept within his home had been taken, making it a possible theory.

The second turns the murders in to a personal nature. It is believed "The Sultan's" brother sent men to murder him.The reason? To possibly eliminate any competition for their inheritance or the throne from the brother. Another possible reason was to avenge their family for stealing the family fortune.

No matter who it was the house was left to its ghostly happenings. It changed hands several times over the years. In the '40s, it was converted in to the New Orleans Academy of Art but was forced to close after so many students left for the armed forces. It then became a boarding house and later a hiding place for vagrants. And eventually, around the 1960s, it was rescued and turned in to luxury apartments. Today, it is a private residence (Please respect their privacy).

Over the years, people have reported hearing Oriental music emanating from the house as well as the smell of incense. Others have heard screams and footsteps and seen people wearing Oriental clothing. "The Sultan" himself has made an appearance on occasion


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Julie Ferguson said…
What an interesting house. I wonder if the current residence don't mind the unseen spirits that still seem to be living there.
M J Steel said…
That is eerie - I doubt I could live there.
Betty b said…
As you both say this house is interesting and eerie. It is also one of so many haunted buildings in New Orleans, several of which are located in the French Quarter. I am from New Orleans and have heard this story as well as the others since childhood. The version I heard most was that the young man was the younger brother of a sultan who had the entire house killed after the man stole the sultan's favorite wife..either way the house is considered to be one of the city's most haunted. It truly is haunted.

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