The 2014 RT (The Romantic Times) Convention was a rollicking good time and I’ve yet to recover. This was my first experience at RT and my first extended trip to New Orleans. Interestingly enough, it also happened to be the first time my rogue and one of my children accompanied me on a writing convention trip. Because we’d made this a family affair, we arrived four days early in order to do some sightseeing and discover the allure of NOLA. And in the next few posts, I’m going to share my adventures with you, me hearties.
Rogue, DD#2 (Darling Daughter #2), and I started our Sunday off early by meeting the gracious Heather Graham and about 20 other adventurers in Kathryn Falk, Lady of Barrow’s suite for water, juice, and breakfast snacks. Ms. Graham initiated introductions and then gave us some history of New Orleans through the suit’s expansive windows overlooking the French Quarter.
First order of business: a carriage ride through the French Quarter! Outside the Marriott, we hopped into carriages. With a snap of the reins, our adventure began. (Hint: French Quarter carriages are led by mules, not horses, as horses cannot take the NOLA heat as well.) As we traveled through narrow streets, we were told fascinating stories.
Memorable places stand out:
- The Gardette-Laprete House, 1240 Burgundy Street, on the corner of Dauphine and Orleans Avenue, locally known as The Sultan’s House, a beautiful pink building with black iron-lace frills. Here, the brother of a Turkish Sultan rented the house from Jean Baptiste Le Pretre who’s main residence was a plantation in Plaquemines Parish. Music and incense emanated from the house until one day the music stopped. Curious, a neighbor noticed blood oozing under the door, down the front steps, and under the front gate. When the authorities arrived, they discovered a gruesome sight. Everyone inside had been brutally massacred and the Sultan buried alive in a shallow grave in the back garden.
- On the corner of Royal Street and Governor Nichol’s Street stands the most haunted house in New Orleans, the LaLaurie House, 1140 Royal Street. Here a number of atrocities were committed by Delphine LaLaurie and her physician husband, Leonard Louis Nicolas LaLaurie, including experimenting and torturing slaves and hiding the bodies in grooves between floors.
The sights and sounds of New Orleans are too numerous to mention here. But wonderful tidbits of history were gleaned on our carriage ride.
For instance: the buildings in the French Quarter aren’t French design. When ships sailed down the Mississippi, they were dismantled. The wood was then used to build the city. This weathered tinder became primed for fire. In the late 1700’s, New Orleans suffered through several fires, one finally burning down 80% of the French Quarter in 1788. By this time, Spaniards were in control of the area. With their finances at stake, they offered to rebuild New Orleans on one condition — Spanish architecture would be used. Single dwellings were combined so that all buildings touched, allowing for minimal air flow between the buildings. Each building was then built out of brick, not wood. And finally, beautiful iron balconies were added to flavor the city with visual splendor.
Interesting tip: Once ships sailed down the Mississippi, they had nowhere to go, thus the reason for dismantling the ships and using them to supply the city. Wood was scarce. What a ship also brought was human cargo, sailors with nowhere to go. These hardened men were a mean lot with a tendency to get bored, drink, whore, and cause trouble. Combined with mosquitoes arriving on board ships — harbingers of malaria, flooding, disease, privation, and a melting pot of cultural influence, here begins the essence for the spiritual density massed in New Orleans, aka… it’s haunted!
Next, I’ll be talking about my first foray into a vampire boutique. Stay tuned, me hearties!