On of my fondly very remembered Halloween traditions was visiting the LeBeau plantation after a long night of trick r' treating.
Here's a little bit of history about the plantaion:
The LeBeau Plantation was build in 1854 by Francois Barthelemy LeBeau. Francois died that same year, only a few months after the plantation was completed. The plantation remained under the ownership of the LeBeau family until 1905, when it was purchased by Friscoville Realty. For 20 years, the plantation was converted into the Friscoville Hotel, during the time when gambling houses had become extremely popular. During the decline of legal gambling, in 1920's the plantation was sold yet again in 1928. The plantation was renamed the Cardone Hotel by the buyer, Jai Alai Realty, and used as an illegal gambling house. Evidence of the plantation's time as an underground casino are the gun turrets which were built into the closets. From the late 1930's until 1967, ownership of the plantation turned over many times. In 1967 Joseph Meraux purchased the house. During his ownership the house remained empty and was never kept up..
There was a massive effort for restoration in 2003, before Hurrican Katrina devastated the area. Many of St. Bernard Parish's residents had pledged generous donations of money toward the restoration, but the efforts were lost when the storm hit.
Once again, the LeBeau Plantation is quickly deteriorating, while some local groups are still trying to pull together to have the place restored to it's original state and made into a historic landmark/tourist attraction.
Aside from the interesting changes of venue and ownership that the plantation has had over it's existence, there are many local tales of ghostly happenings inside it's deteriorating rafters.
Most of the stories center around a mysterious light that can be seen some nights in the plantation's cupola. The story is always the same, people go to see the house, because they have heard stories of the mysterious lights and usually end up seeing them, themselves.
Sadly, I cannot say that I have seen the mysterious lights of the LeBeau Plantation. When I used to visit, the land was completely fenced in and the only way to view it was from a very narrow street, that didn't lend room for parking. We never stayed long, but it was always the highlight of my night. Seeing the old dilapidated giant standing in the middle of a darkened field, surrounded by mystery, especially since it was surrounded by a barrier, filled me with excitement and made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end.
I will be making a visit to my old home town this weekend and luckily I will be right down the street from where this Goliath still stands. It is no longer surrounded by fence >=)... I will be armed with my camera. ;)
Photo source: http://old-new-orleans.com/NO_LeBeau.html