New Orleans' Haunted Gardette-LePretre Mansion

Also known by locals as the "Sultan's House," the Gardette-LePretre house was built in 1825. The following, alleged events took place in it much later than the dates of 1727 or 1792 that were incorrectly referenced by others. Constructed by dentist, Dr. Joseph Coulon Gardette, it was situated on the corner of Dauphine and Orleans streets in the French Quarter. The tallest house in New Orleans, it would be sold only four years later to a local, respected merchant by the name of M. Jean Baptiste LaPretre who would trim the grand home with distinctive grating and grillwork on each of its floors' porches. He owned the Gardette-LePretre residence until 1878.

How the Ghost Story Gets Interesting
A Turkish dignitary who claimed to be the brother of the Sultan of Turkey arrived in New Orleans near the end of the Civil War (or afterward), wanting to take up residence: LaPretre was honored to offer up his home to such a regal guest. Unfortunately, the man was not innocently sojourning but fleeing, it would seem, as he had stolen his brother's favorite wife. And that would be his assumed downfall. Rumors of the Turk's ghost walking Gardette-LePretre's floors persist today in The Big Easy, and the screams of his young girls are said to still be heard at the property according to New Orleans' lore. And some who have later lived in the building claim to have seen the ghosts of people dressed in Oriental clothing.

The Turkish Dignitary Makes a Home
After making himself very comfortable in LaPretre's home, even refurnishing it with carpets, couches, and metal furniture from his ship, the Turk had his five young girls, aged 14-16 years old, secretly brought to the mansion where neighbors could hear their voices in the courtyard but not see them. Privacy was maintained with a sentry of eunuch guards and, yet, their very presence was the talk of the city.

Eventually, after a few months, an unknown ship was glimpsed in the harbor during a storm but disappeared just as quickly as it was spied. The next morning, the ship was gone but the Gardette-LePretre residence would never be the same.

The Gardette-LePretre Crime Scene
The following is the account of what was found in this excerpt from "Prominent American Ghosts," by author Susy Smith whose story was well-researched and more credible than others about this incident:

"...something seemed amiss at the Sultan's house. The gate to the courtyard swung wide open on its hinges, and this had never happened before. There were muddy footprints leading in and out of the gate and into the house. And there was no sound anywhere...

Finally alarmed neighbors broke into the house, where they found to their horror several slain servants strewn about. At the foot of the stairway was a tiny, red velvet slipper, and a tall man reached down and picked it up and put it in his pocket. He led the others up the stairs, but all wee frightened at what they knew they must see. It was true. In the splendid room above, where the air was heavy with yesterday's incense, mingled with the scent of blood, they discovered them -- five young girls, all decapitated.

The brother of the Sultan had also met his death that night, but because of his position he had been carefully buried in the garden. Over the new grave was a marble tablet with the inscription in Arabic: 'The justice of heaven is satisfied, and the date tree shall grow on the traitor's tomb.' it is said that a tall and stately date tree grew up on that spot, the first of its kind to appear in this country. It was known locally as 'the tree of death.'"

More Recent Times
In the 1960s, the building was turned into apartment, being divided into nine units. In 2013, it went up for sale for $2.65 million. It would seem that the tragedy that took place there has been long forgotten except by proprietors of local ghost tours.

Has anyone not aware of its haunted past encountered any ghosts, wondering what or who it could be? Hmm...