Photo courtesy of asergeev.
It’s that time of year again — Hocus Pocus is playing on every other cable television channel, the drugstore aisles are lined with jumbo bags of candy, and all you want to do (or, should I say, all I want to do) is cuddle up with a hot glass of apple cider and a piece of pumpkin pie. If you’re like me and watch the Amityville Horror and House on Haunted Hill just to check out the architecture, you’re in luck — today’s Jawdropper is a haunted, beautiful masterpiece way down south in the Crescent City.
All photos courtesy of Magnolia Mansion.
Located within New Orleans’ Lower Garden District, the Magnolia Mansion, 2127 Prytania Street, is a striking example of Antebellum architecture. Designed and built in 1858 by architect James H. Calrow, the Greek Revival mansion has also been known as the Harris-Maginnis House. It was erected for Alexander Harris, a cotton agent. He and his young bride, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Johnson Thompson, enjoyed married life in the home until Mr. Harris and his brother died of Yellow Fever, just 24 hours apart, in the house in 1869. It was later bought by John Maginnis from Lizzie in 1879. From 1939 until 1954 the building served as the local headquarters for the American Red Cross.
Eleven Corinthian columns punctuate the home’s wrap-around veranda, bordered by delicate iron railings. Intricate dental moldings line the eave, and underneath lies a sky-blue porch ceiling that provides a nice contrast to the façade’s pure white paint job. Inside, the homes boasts 13 bedrooms each with its own private bathroom. The Corinthian design continues on pilasters throughout, and dental moldings also make their way inside. The first floor’s 15-foot ceilings are adorned with crystal chandeliers that highlight the home’s collection of Victorian furniture. Outside, there are three large courtyards filled with fragrant Magnolia trees.
Magnolia Mansion is currently operating as a bed and breakfast and event space. Hollie Vest, a Tina Turner impersonator, first purchased the house in 2001 and completed a full-out, year-long renovation of the property.
Now, to the part you’ve been waiting for. The paranormal activity in the mansion supposedly began during Ms. Vest’s restoration when the crew came in to find the ceilings and walls covered in a black, oily substance. As the construction was ending, a 300-pound door fell off its hinges and crashed to the ground, causing one crew member to turn his back and never return!
But Magnolia Mansion is not your typical haunted house; these spirits are friendly and playful. Many guests have reported that their belongings have been moved around — most often their shoes. They also claim to have heard voices and footsteps, seen faces in the mirror, and even have been touched. Many photographs taken on the premises over the years contain orbs. It’s become well established that a particular spirit roaming around is a housekeeper known as “the caretaker” who tucks people in at night. There are also several reports of a child ghost that walks the halls and a bearded man in a black suit who lingers in the downstairs parlors. The Vampire Room, modeled after the bedroom in Interview With a Vampire, is said to be the most haunted room in the house.
Don’t believe me? Find out for yourselves by booking an overnight stay. Just make sure you’re not too attached to your shoes!
For more information, visit Magnolia Mansion’s website.
AUTHOR DANA SCHULZ
Dana Schulz is a writer and lover of urban exploration, culinary history, and, most of all, old houses. Her dream home would have a wrap-around porch to host dinner parties featuring the tasty treats prepared in her vintage kitchen, complete with a farmhouse sink, retro refrigerator, and collection of milk glass containers.