New Orleans has a ton of tourist trap hotels, luring in the crowd with claims of being “historical” or “haunted.” Sometimes, they exaggerate a bit and fluff up the truth to give their establishment a bit more flair. But La Pavillion is the real deal. It’s a member of the Historic Hotels of America, and it’s purportedly home to over 100 ghosts. The ghost of a woman named Eva haunts room 930. She died sometime in the 1840s when a carriage hit her right in front of the future entrance of La Pavilion. Her spirit still haunts the building, and guests who stay in room 930 have reported seeing her ghost cowering on the bed. Some guests also claim having strange bouts of confusion and terror. The spirits of a couple from the 1920s also haunt the premises. They’re always well dressed, and many assume they’re just a normal couple passing through for the festivities until they mysteriously vanish through the walls of the hotel. Even before the hotel was built, Poydras Street attracted a chaotic energy. The site was home to a theatre that was known for sexually explicit performances. And before that, the neighborhood was a hotbed of violent crime. The vibrant history of the area has left behind a motley crew of strange poltergeists.
Crime on Poydras Street
Le Pavillion Hotel sits on 833 Poydras Street. While today the neighborhood is hustling and bustling, back in the early 1800s, the area was a dangerous and desolate wasteland. If the gators didn’t get you, then the killers did. City developers later drained the swampy canals around Poydras to build a train depot. It went unused and was abandoned not long after being built. The colorful characters of the area used the abandoned depot for their own ends. Street performers, traveling circuses, and all sorts of entertainers turned the crumbling building into an impromptu venue.
The National Theatre
The spirit of entertainment took over the old building on Poydras. So much so that the old depot was demolished and replaced with a bonafide theatre, called the National Theatre, which was erected in 1867. The four-story, 1,500 seat theatre was considered a masterpiece and highly regarded by the people of New Orleans. The giant dome overhead served as both a natural air conditioner and amplifier. The extravagant design on the seats even matched the curtains.
As was common in New Orleans at the time, the theatre hosted some sexually charged performances. The shows were fitting considering the city’s reputation as a hotbed of bootlegging, rumrunning, and piracy. Though it was popular with some crowds, the theatre was despised by the more socially conservative citizens of the city. The New Orleans city government gave the theatre numerous fines throughout its years of operation, and eventually, they had their license revoked.
In 1880, the National Theatre was bought out by a German immigrant named Phillip Werlein. Now under new management, the theatre attempted to take on a more wholesome image. The plan worked until a fire burned down the theatre in 1887. The theatre shared the building with an upholstery business, and a spark set a bundle of fabric on fire which rapidly spread throughout the building. The glory days of the National Theatre had come to an end.
A realty company purchased the land in 1899. They built a massive hotel called the New Hotel Denechaud. The hotel was a reimagining of the Old Hotel Denechaud that once stood nearby. Where the socialites of the South loved the old hotel, the new hotel was revered.
The New Hotel Denechaud was adorned with some of the best luxuries available at the time. The building had some of the first hydraulic elevators, along with the first basement, in New Orleans. According to some rumors, the basement actually served as a secret passageway to hide alcohol during Prohibition. Politicians and businessmen were often smuggled in and out of the building if they needed to make a lowkey escape.
While the New Hotel Denechaud was an extravagant getaway, the operating costs were high. The business was riddled with debt, and the owners were forced to sell in 1910.
In 1913, the Denechaud became the Hotel De Soto. The new owners paid over $600,000 for the Denechaud, equivalent to about $16 million today. In addition to the extraordinary price tag, the De Soto was also outfitted with the newest modern luxuries, including electricity.
The Hotel De Soto was booming. In fact, business was so good that it survived the Great Depression and two World Wars without a significant drop in revenue. The De Soto even hosted the first radio station in New Orleans on the top floor.
Some interesting characters came and went through the building. Louis Armstrong’s parents were rumored to work in the hotel. The De Soto was also used as a base for sex workers who needed a place to run their businesses. The hotel management vehemently denied the allegations, though newspapers ran the story nonetheless. The hotel management threatened numerous media outlets with litigation, causing them to run a story that retracted the accusations of the hotel being used as a homebase for sex workers.
The Hotel De Soto had become a rundown and seedy establishment by the 1950s. Like the Denechaud, it was time for the hotel to find a new owner.
Enter Le Pavillion
In 1963, the Hotel De Soto became Le Pavillion Hotel. The new owners undertook a huge and expensive restoration project. They went all the way to Europe to bring in new furnishings. Italian artists crafted the columns and sculptures. The crystal chandeliers were made in Czechoslovakia. The paintings and marble railings were imported from the Grand Hotel in Paris. They even brought in a marble bath from France, which was once used by Napoleon.
Today, Le Pavillion is one of the grandest hotels in New Orleans. The hotel is complete with a swimming pool, valet parking, room service, and translators for foreign tourists.
The Ghosts of Le Pavillion Hotel
With such a vibrant history, ghosts and spirits have taken residence in the building. While every haunted house in New Orleans has at least a few ghosts lying around, some paranormal experts say that at least 100 ghosts live in Le Pavillion. The spirits are remnants of the seedy nights on Poydras, as well as the energetic performances of the National Theatre.
The ghost of a woman named Eva is among the most encountered spirits in the hotel. According to the rumors, she was killed by a passing carriage in the mid-1800s, long before the hotel was built. It just so happens that she was run over directly in front of the future entrance of Le Pavilion. For some reason, Eva likes to hang out in Room 930. Guests claim to see the ghost of Eva cowering on the bed near the wall. Others feel a sense of terror and confusion upon entering the room. Some male guests have reported having a young woman seduce them in other rooms on the ninth floor. While this isn’t behavior that is normally associated with Eva, some experts say that it might be her. Of course, it might be one of the other hundred ghosts that inhabit Le Pavillion.
A couple from the 1920s also lives on in Le Pavillion. The two appear as a well-dressed couple, and many guests are fooled into thinking that they’re actually just visitors. The disguise works until they vanish into thin air. The man has a large mustache and is always smoking a cigar. The woman wears a long blue dress. They usually walk hand in hand, appearing and disappearing at will. Some people have seen them enter the elevator, only for the elevator door to close then open up again, but empty. According to local legend, the man was killed while out on a walk near the area, and his wife later died of grief.
The ghost of a prankster is often seen in Le Pavillion. The prankster appears as a man with long black hair, no shoes, and a colorful shirt. Guests have complained that he’s pulled the sheets from over them while asleep. He toys with the cleaning staff by moving around their supplies. He is often spotted on the third floor, between rooms 301 and 302. Guests have seen him floating around the hallways, and he sometimes disappears into the walls.
Want to read more about New Orleans haunted history?
New Orleans is one of the most haunted cities in America. Very few places can touch its spooky reputation, save for Savannah or Salem. Make sure to check out some of the city’s most iconic haunts! The Old Absinthe House was a favorite hangout spot for pirate Jean LaFitte. Actually, his ghost can still be seen there, along with his pirating cronies. Marie Leveau can also be seen at the bar, but she’s more commonly seen at the Saint Louis Cemetery. Marie was known for her voodoo, as well as helping the city’s slaves and freedmen of color. Don’t forget to check out the top ten most haunted spots in New Orleans right here!
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