Campaign of the Month: October 2017
Blood and Bourbon
The French Quarter
“I dreamed of New Orleans. Not the New Orleans of today, but the city where Hippolyte and I had been young patrolmen in a cruiser, sometimes even walking a beat with nightsticks at a time when the city in its provincial innocence actually feared Black Panthers and long-haired kids who wore love beads and roman sandals. This was before crack cocaine hit New Orleans. It was like a hydrogen bomb in the early ’80s, and the nuclear winter was made all the worse when the administration in Washington, DC cut federal aid to the city by half. Oddly, prior to the ’80s, New Orleans enjoyed a kind of sybaritic tranquility that involved a contract between the devil and the forces of justice. The Carolla family ran the vice and maintained implicit understandings with NOPD about the operation of the city. The Quarter was the cash cow. Anyone who jackrolled a tourist got his wheels broken. Anyone who jackrolled an old person anywhere, or stuck up a bar or café frequented by cops, or who molested a child got his wheels broken and got thrown from a police car at high speed on the parish line., that is if he was lucky. The Carollas were stone killers and corrupt to the core, but they were pragmatists as well as family men, and they realized that no society remains functional if it doesn’t maintain the appearances of morality.”
“New Orleans was a Petrarchan sonnet rather than an Elizabethan one, its mindset more like the medieval world in the best sense rather than the Renaissance. In the Spring of 1971, I lived in a cottage by the Covenant School of the Ursulines, and every Sunday morning, I would attend mass at St. Louis Cathedral and stroll across Jackson Square in the coolness of the shadows while sidewalk artists were setting up their easels along a pike fence that was overhung by palm fronds and oak boughs. At an outdoor table at the Café Du Monde, over beignets and coffee with hot milk, I would watch the pinkness of the morning spread across the quarter, the unicyclist pirouetting in front of the cathedral, jugglers tossing wood balls in the air, street bands who played for tips, knocking out tin roof blues and rampart street parades. The balconies along the street groaned with the weight of potted plants and bougainvillea hung in huge clumps from the iron grillwork and bloomed as brightly as drops of blood in the sunlight. Corner grocers run by Italian families still had wood-bladed fans on the ceilings and sold boudin and po’boy sandwiches to working people. Out front in the shade of the colonnade were bins of cantaloupes, plantains, strawberries, and rattlesnake watermelons, Often on the same corner, a black man sold spearmint-flavored snow-cones from a pushcart, the ice hand-shaved off of a frosted blue block kept wrapped in a tarp. Traditional New Orleans was like a piece of South America, sawed loose from its mooring, and blown straight from the Caribbean until it affixed itself to the southern rim of the United States. The streetcars, the palms along the neutral ground, the shotgun houses with the ventilated shutters, and the neon lighting looking like green smoke in the mist. The Irish and Italian dialectal influences that produced an accent that could be mistaken for Brooklyn or the Bronx. The collective eccentricities that drew Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner, and William Burroughs to its breast.”
“All these things in one way or another were impaired or marred forever by the arrival of crack cocaine, and what remained was almost annihilated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita some two decades later. But the truth is that New Orleans has always had a dark side, one prone to debauchery and violence. Whether the source of such depravities or merely drawn to those sins like maggots to putrid meat, so too has the Crescent City always suffered from a secret cancer poisoning its heart. They call themselves the Kindred, the Camarilla. They are parasites, both esoteric and visceral, and they have been leeching off the city’s soul since its inception. Over the centuries, they have grown fat on New Orleans’ vitality like blood-gorged ticks—and it’s time for someone to burn them off at their heads.”
The jewel in the crown of the Big Easy, this relatively small section of New Orleans has risen to surpass all others in popularity and renown. The Vieux Carré, meaning the “old quarter,” measures only six blocks by 13 blocks, yet it is one of the most densely packed districts of any city. The French Quarter, as it has come to be known, claims many of New Orleans’ finest hotels, restaurants and sites of interest, all within walking distance of one another. Called simply the Quarter by the locals, the district is centered on Jackson Square and abuts the river to the east, the Faubourg Marigny to the north and the Arts District to the south. It claims less than 20,000 permanent residents in even the busiest months, but each of them is a potential vessel for its lord, Antoine Savoy.
One of the only effective methods of reining in the spread of Savoy’s influence has been through the practice of establishing Elysium. When Savoy grew clever and worked toward making the French Quarter an historic tourist destination, Prince Vidal responded by fighting fire with fire, declaring a great many buildings in the Vieux Carré to be Elysium. The move was pure genius. No one questioned the prince’s stated motivations: to protect the area’s priceless pieces of living history from the depredations of violent Kindred, while providing for both the buildings’ continued upkeep and the Kindred’s mutual enjoyment. Safeguarding the Quarter seemed an obvious notion, and therein lay the genius, for when everyone sees the wisdom of a thing, then the true reasons for doing it become unimportant—even if they are underhanded in nature.
The act of establishing Elysium throughout the Quarter accomplished two major things. First, it intruded on the hegemony of the so-called lord of the domain. The city’s master of elysium Gus Elgin is, by decree, permitted to travel freely to and between sites that are declared Elysium, and when so many buildings within a certain domain are under his purview, he effectively has carte blanche with regard to movement within the domain of another vampire. Given the fact that the master of elysium is an officer of the prince, one can see the wisdom in the move. The other thing that the prince’s strategy has accomplished is to embarrass Savoy. For every Elysium violation that takes place in his domain, Savoy loses some small measure of status. And given the prince’s stern punishment of Elysium violators, he appears to be forever meting out justice to the “upstarts” and “criminals among the Kindred” who dwell or revel within Savoy’s domain. Savoy wanted the action so badly, now he must deal with the consequences.
Regent (de facto)
• Antoine Savoy (7th-generation Toreador/Lancea et Sanctum, Camarilla Status •••••)
• Jade Kalani (9th-generation Toreador/Lancea et Sanctum, Camarilla Status •)
• Natasha Preston (8th-generation Malkavian/Invictus/Lancea et Sanctum, Camarilla Status ••)
• Peter Lebeaux (9th-generation Tremere/House Tremere/Lancea et Sanctum, Camarilla Status ••)
• Reynaldo Gui (9th-generation Ventrue/Invictus/Lancea et Sanctum, Camarilla Status •)
• Rosa Bale (9th-generation Ventrue/Circle of the Crone/Lancea et Sanctum, Camarilla Status ••)
• Arthur Duchamps (13th-generation Toreador/Lancea et Sanctum, Camarilla Status 0)
• Edward Zuric (13th-generation Gangrel/Anarch Movement/Lancea et Sanctum, Camarilla Status 0)
• Justine Chaudrier (13th-generation Toreador/Lancea et Sanctum, Camarilla Status 0)
• Mary Allen (11th-generation Malkavian/Lancea et Sanctum, Camarilla Status 0)
• Samantha (13th-generation Caitiff/Unaligned, Camarilla Status 0)
• Simon Jones (12th-generation Caitiff/Anarch Movement, Camarilla Status 0)
• Yellow Sidra (11th-generation Ravnos/Lancea et Sanctum, Camarilla Status 0)
• Many, many more Kindred beyond those listed here are believed to reside in the French Quarter, including Setites and Giovannini. The parish is grossly overpopulated and it’s hardly as if Savoy bothers reporting a census to the prince.
• Savoy has granted feeding rights to numerous further Kindred. The French Quarter is the choicest hunting grounds in all New Orleans and everyone knows it.
Canal Street to the south, Rampart Street to the west, Esplanade Avenue to the north and the Mississippi River to the east: these landmarks surround the section of New Orleans known to locals as the Vieux Carre and to visitors as the French Quarter.
Culturally, the Quarter is one of the best-preserved spectacles of early French colonialism remaining in America. It is a dream out of the past, framed by wrought-iron banner-rails and tall, wooden shutters over doors and windows alike. It is a link to the past, and this alone renders the French Quarter attractive to the Kindred population.
Business and residential areas juxtapose in this 6-by-12 block area. To the south, near Canal Street, one can find the nightclub district of the French Quarter, with its bars and jazz clubs. As one moves toward Esplanade Avenue to the north, however, the area becomes unmistakably residential, with not so much as a liquor store is in sight. Even the most notorious avenue in the French Quarter, Bourbon Street, becomes almost disquietingly residential the farther one travels past Canal Street.
Even the residential areas feature stark contrasts. Though most of the French Quarter has been restored (and indeed it was even spared the worst of Hurricane Katrina’s destruction), some parts still remain in states of gross disrepair, mostly the areas between Decatur and Chartres Streets on the east side, and Rampart Street along the west. Still, these areas are more the exceptions than the rule. Unlike most inner-city areas, the French Quarter is neither dirty nor unkempt. On the contrary, it is one of the cleanest areas of the entire city.
Street sweepers make their rounds on a regular schedule; shop owners, barkeepers and residents alike take great pride in preserving their storefronts and homes. This can explain the noticeable lack of vandalism in both the business and residential districts of the French Quarter, but can also lead tourists into a false sense of security. The area is far from crime-free and can be extremely dangerous for the unwary, especially at night or during Mardi Gras.
Perhaps the one thing the French Quarter lacks, most noticeably in the residential districts, is the presence of any lawns. The close proximity of the buildings make such a luxury impossible, but also gives rise to one of the better-known and most beautiful features of the French Quarter—its courtyard gardens. Nearly every house in the area boasts one of these tranquil, intimate gardens, often hidden from public view behind ornamental, wrought-iron gates.
Post-Katrina, the French Quarter has instead become one of the shining lights of the city. While much of the rest of the Big Easy was flooded, the French Quarter managed to escape with minimal damage to its buildings, and almost no water in its streets. Businesses within the quarter were quick to open up again to serve those that stayed behind to weather the storm—some as quickly as the next day.
Streets (North to South)
On the northwest side of the French Quarter is Rampart Street, also favored by the Kindred because of its easy prey. A divided, two-lane road, Rampart Street is known for the prostitutes, pushers and junkies who regularly hang out there.
Named for a dauphine, the wife of a French royal heir titled a dauphin, this street hosts plenty of bars, restaurants, and clubs.
• The Museum of Death (227 Dauphine St.)
From paintings by serial killers to shrunken heads, New Orleans’s Museum of Death displays as many approaches to death as it can fit within its four walls. The museum opened in 1995 and includes a collection of body bags, autopsy videos, skeletons, pieces of taxidermy, letters and pictures sent by serial killers, and various other death-themed oddities. One of Dr. Kevorkian’s suicide machines is on display, as well as a business card from Jack Ruby, who killed Lee Harvey Oswald. There are letters from serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer and “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski, several paintings by serial killer John Wayne Gacy, memorabilia (including hair recovered from the crime scene) from the O. J. Simpson trial, and Manson family photographs. There are videos in which death is not reenacted, but actually happens on the screen. Exhibits on terrorism, cannibalism, and embalming are included, as well as a collection of shrunken heads. The museum has no age restriction because, as the website says, “WE ALL DIE.”
Above Royal Street stretches what is probably the most notorious thoroughfare in the French Quarter. Indeed, its very name has become synonymous with the city of New Orleans—Bourbon Street. Despite Bourbon Street’s reputation, however, the brightly lit, raucous, nightclub- and bar-filled southern district of the street fills only the first half-dozen blocks. The closer one gets to Esplanade Avenue, the more residential the area becomes, until the only lights are those on the street corners and the only sounds are the fading rhythms of the jazz bands down the street.
Of course, the first few blocks are the most famous, as well as the part where the greatest number of Kindred congregate. In the late night hours, members of almost every clan in the city can be found here. Toreador, who greatly favor the jazz clubs and sit in with the bands, appear regularly. Indeed, in the jazz world, no one questions someone who appears only after sunset, disappears in the early morning, and is never seen otherwise.
Bourbon Street’s festive atmosphere lures Kindred for the easy hunting as well as the bright lights and loud music. From sundown to dawn, the strip clubs, bars and nightclubs overflow with patrons, who often spill out onto the streets. Each day at sundown, city workers close Bourbon Street to automobile traffic. They accomplish this by setting large, thick steel posts in the street, allowing the clubgoers to wander the street in safety. Most of the bars and clubs feature panels that are rolled up to expose the bar to the street.
Although a number of clubs stay open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, most close for a few hours each day, usually between dawn and late morning. They open when the tourists return to the French Quarter. In those early morning hours, the once brightly lit French Quarter assumes a tired, faded look. Many of the club and bar owners use these hours to sweep out the remnants of the previous evening’s festivities. Workers hose off steps and sidewalks while the sounds of the outer city echo down the channels of empty streets. Vagrants and those too drunk to make it home can often be found in small alleyways between shops, sleeping in old blankets or rags. As twilight re-descends, however, the French Quarter quickly sheds its daytime image and slips back into its carnival atmosphere.
• The Barely Legal (423 Bourbon St.)
Hole in the wall strip club owned by Ricky “Cash Money” Mouton.
• Café Lafitte in Exile (901 Bourbon St.)
Gay bar that has operated continuously since 1933. It claims to be the oldest continuously operating gay bar in the United States. Originally, Cafe Lafitte bar was opened in a famous old building at 941 Bourbon Street known as Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop. When the owner of the business, Tom Caplinger, was forced to vacate that location, he reopened at 901 Bourbon Street and named the new bar Cafe Lafitte in Exile. The bar is open 24 hours a day and has had influential guests including Tennessee Williams and Truman Capote.
The original Cafe Lafitte in Exile opened in the building that had been the noted pirate Jean Lafitte’s blacksmith business in the 18th century. This building is now called Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop. In its early days, the bar was managed by Mary Collins, a lesbian, and drew a mixed crowd of lesbians, homosexuals and heterosexuals. In the 1950s, during rising tension between the club and the landlord, manager Tom Caplinger moved the club to the building where it is now located. At the grand reopening party in 1953, patrons arrived costumed as their favorite ‘exile’, including people like Oscar Wilde, Dante, and Napoleon. Author John Steinbeck described Cafe Lafitte and Caplinger as “an uninhibited, unkempt scholar, whose laissez-faire policy of running a gin mill can only be termed unique.”
Bar patrons claim to have occasionally seen the ghosts of deceased individuals who were fond of the bar, as well as a “frisky” ghost named Mr. Bubbly who pinches people on their rear ends.
• Galatoire’s (209 Bourbon St.) (Elysium)
Fine-dining French-Creole restaurant established in 1905 by Jean Galatoire, an immigrant from a small village near Pau, France. The restaurant is run by his fourth-generation descendants, though in 2009 they sold a controlling interest in to local businessman and political candidate Edward Kelly. Five members members of the Galatoire family remain as minority owners.
The main entrance, a French door, leads into the first-floor dining room. The first-floor dining room is a mix of high ceilings, slow-moving paddle fans, and mirrored opposing walls, maintaining much of the look of a mid-19th century restaurant. The second-floor dining rooms, opened in 1999, comprise smaller rooms overlooking Bourbon Street. At lunch, men may dress casually, although after 5:00 PM, and all day on Sundays, men must wear a jacket.
Until 1999, the restaurant did not accept reservations, leaving patrons to stand in long lines on the Bourbon Street sidewalk. With the addition of the second-floor dining rooms and bar, standing on Bourbon Street is only needed for first-floor dining room seats, which are still always on a first-come-first-served basis. Exceptions to their first-come-first-served policy have never been allowed. The restaurant claims that one Friday in 1987, then-President Ronald Reagan placed a call to U.S. Senator Joseph Kelly, who happened to be waiting in line for a table. After the president’s call had ended, Senator Kelly graciously returned to his position in line.
• Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop (941 Bourbon St.)
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop is a tavern located on the corner of Bourbon Street and St. Philip Street. Built between 1722 and 1732 by Nicolas Touze, it is reputed to be the oldest structure used as a bar in the United States. In 1722, further building is recorded by a realty transfer set down by one Don Andres Almonester. The structure and fence are in the old French Provincial Louis XV or Briquette-Entre-Poteauxe style used in French Louisiana.
The building escaped two great fires at the turn of the 19th century due to slate roofing. Such slates are presently used by artists as canvases. Between 1772 and 1791, the property is believed to have been used by the Lafitte Brothers, Jean and Pierre as a New Orleans base for their Barataria smuggling operation. The legend is based on the fact that the property was owned by the family of Simon Duroche a.k.a. Castillon and the wily privateer Captain Rene Beluche.
Castillon was a rather record-shy adventurer and entrepreneur. Captain Beluche commanded his ship “Spy” in Lafitte’s Baratarian fleet. Although the owners of the property, Jean Baptiste Dominica Joly LaPorte probably lived on the premises, it is within reason that the Lafittes could have used the place as a city base for negotiations with potential buyers of their goods. It is unlikely that a wealthy Creole would agree to meet at home on Royal Street. Bourbon and St. Phillip was probably regarded as a safe and convenient neutral ground. Like most New Orleans legends, Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop is a gumbo of truth and French, Spanish, African, Cajun and American embellishments.
• The Lamp Light
Small strip club with a twist. Run by a Toreador, the club is open to both Kindred and kine until the wee morning hours. Certain nights, however, the club is closed to its mortal customers,and an entertainment of a different sort is served to titillate the Kindred who come to watch.
The show, which usually features a mortal and a Kindred, offers the usual fare from its mortal participant, but adds a unique touch at the end for the voyeuristic pleasure of its audience. Performers almost always conclude each show with a Kiss, though blood is taken sparingly, to guarantee the performer does not lose consciousness on stage.
The club manager carefully chooses the mortals for the shows, but this does not keep the immortal clientèle from holding them in low regard. These mortals, known among the Kindred as blood dolls, willingly submit to the Kiss for the chance to experience the euphoria that accompanies it.
• Old Absinthe House (Elysium) (240 Bourbon St.)
Historic bar and restaurant. Site of the meeting between Andrew Jackson and Jean Lafitte.
• Saints and Sinners (627 Bourbon St.)
Bordello-themed lounge and bar.
• The Twilight Club
Small but functional meeting room in the style of a 1920s gentleman’s club run by Reynaldo Gui. The predominately Kindred-used club serves as an informal gathering place where information can be gathered and exchanged or where vampires can find refuge for a few hours. The club enforces a strict “no confrontation” rule; no act of aggression or violence is tolerated. Those who break this rule are banned from the club, either permanently or for a period of months or years.
The Twilight Club is located on the upper floor of a set of shops next to a popular Bourbon Street nightclub. Entrance to the club is obtained via a flight of stairs in the middle of the building that leads up into a hollowed alcove. At the top of the stairs is a solid white door that opens into the club. Because the club is not advertised and has no signs to attract attention, almost no mortals try to go there, and those who do are told it is a private room.
Royal Street, just above Chartres Street, is the second most famous street in the French Quarter. It is lined with some of the most beautiful houses in the city, though their histories are rarely as pleasant as their facades. It is also famous for its antique shops, bookstores, and luxury hotels.
• 318 Royal Street
First fireproof structure in New Orleans, constructed in the early 1800s, and former workplace of cartoonist George Joseph Herriman. Herriman’s grandfather had been working as a tailor since at least 1847, when he was twenty-seven years old, and he had been in business with his half-brother Alexander Laurent Chessé since at least 1850. In 1854, shortly following the death of each of their fathers, Herriman and Chessé opened a tailor shop at this location on busy Royal Street, and it remained a productive business for the next thirty years.
The Herriman & Chessé tailor shop occupied the three-story building’s ground floor. Here, they sold clothing made from fabrics that they would purchase themselves on trips to France. There were two counters for serving customers, along with two glass display cases, and a large cedar chest. In addition to purchasing fine clothing, customers might also pick up tickets to political rallies as well as news of the latest political and cultural activities.
In the top floor of the building was an upscale apartment that brought some unwelcome notoriety to the building in 1879, when a man named William Beasley was seen throwing a woman named Missouri Jane Hebert from the gallery; he was found guilty of murder and sentenced to twenty years of hard labor.
Despite this interruption, work at the tailor shop proceeded until 1887, when George Herriman Sr. brought his son into the business, renaming it Herriman & Son. The shop moved to 118 Customhouse Street, where father and son worked together for three years, until George Herriman Jr. moved his family to California, never to return.
There are only a few references to the tailor profession in George Herriman’s comics. When asked about his childhood, Herriman would usually say he was the son of a baker. He never explained why.
• 333 Royal Street
First U.S. Post Office in the New Orleans. It now goes by the name Nez Coup6 Books, specializing in rare books, documents and old maps. Many Kindred patronize it and enjoy perusing these reminders of earlier days.
• Cornstalk Hotel (Elysium) (915 Royal St.)
Victorian hotel. Named for the ‘Cornstalk’ fence erected in 1840 by the owner, recently married, who wanted to ease his bride’s homesickness for her home state of Iowa.
• Court of Two Sisters (613 Royal St.)
Creole restaurant that regularly ranks in “best place for brunch in the city.”
• Evergreen Plantation
Antoine Savoy’s informal headquarters.
• Gallier House (1132 Royal St.)
Restored 19th-century historic house museum, originally the home of prominent New Orleans architect, James Gallier Jr. The fully furnished house includes a courtyard garden, elegant carriageway, and slave quarters. The interior is restored and furnished in the style of the 1850s. The home boasts numerous technological and architectural advancements for its time, offering a glimpse into 19th-century cutting-edge design. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1974 for its association with Gallier, one of the city’s most important architects of the mid-19th century.
• Hotel Monteleone (214 Royal St.)
Built in 1886 by Antonio Monteleone in the Beaux-Arts architectural style, Hotel Monteleone is a family-owned and -operated hotel located at 214 Royal Street. Famous for its Carousel Piano Bar & Lounge as well as popularity amongst numerous literary and musical figures from the South and beyond.
• The LaBranche House (700 Royal St.)
Even if someone has never been to New Orleans, they have probably seen photographs of the LaBranche House. The residence is easily the most photographed building in the French Quarter. Built in the 1830s, it is noted for its lacy cast iron grillwork with oak leaf and accord detailing. One can see the balconies from all three floors, perfectly curving around the corners of the building.
• LaLaurie House (1140 Royal St.)
The infamous Madame Delphine LaLaurie and her family lived in the three-story structure from 1825 until 1834, when they were driven from the city after it was discovered that Madame LaLaurie subjected her slaves to unspeakable tortures and cruelties. The ghosts of slaves who died in the house have reportedly been seen. The most common sighting is of a young girl who leaped to her death from the roof of the house to escape her mistress. The home has passed through numerous hands over the years, having been used as a public high school, a conservatory of music, an apartment building, a refuge for young delinquents, a bar, a furniture store, and a luxury apartment building. In 2007, it was bought by Hollywood actor Rick Towers for $3.45 million, only to pass to Whitney Hancock Bank two years later in 2009 amidst the actor’s financial difficulties and falsely alleged death from alcohol poisoning. The property remained in the bank’s possession until 2015, when a fateful series of events led to its acquisition by a new private owner.
• LeMonnier Mansion (Elysium) (640 Royal St.)
New Orleans’ first skyscraper, begun in 1795. The structure grew to three stories tall by 1811 (a 4th floor was added in 1876). Until that time, building was generally limited to two floors for fear that the swampy soil couldn’t support taller structures.
• Les Murmures des Morts
Quaint, upscale esoteric shop that claims to be the storefront for a “true medium.” Tarot, palmistry and other forms of divination are practiced by the staff.
• Louisiana Supreme Court Clerk (400 Royal St.)
The seat of the Louisiana Supreme Court. The justices are believed to be under the sway of Antoine Savoy.
• Tante Lescaut’s Occult Curiosities, Horoscopes, & Palmistry
The longest contiguously operating occult store in New Orleans, Tante Lescaut’s has had scores of proprietors since the original “Tante”, a prostitute-felon, was forcibly deported from the prison of La Salpetrière to the Crescent City in 1721. The current manager and mass-horoscope mailer is Césarine Rouselle, an eighty-two year old woman descended from Yoruban maroons, Acadian redbones, and Haitian revolutionaries who lives above the shop with her two companions and a swarm of cats.
• Wycked Wishes
Occult bookstore operated by Sangria Myst.
Southwest of Decatur Street is Chartres Street, which runs by the west side of Jackson Square. At its south end is the usual assortment of bars, open-air jazz clubs and restaurants. The north end, conforming to most of the French Quarter, is residential, and many Kindred in Savoy’s good graces own several houses here. Not all of them live here, the houses often serve as secondary havens or guest houses for acquaintances who come to town.
• Guillot Books
Quiet and out of the way bookshop run by Michelle Guillot. The store catered to spiritualists, paranormal enthusiasts, and practitioners of alternative religions for most of its history, and Michelle has lately been attempting to broaden the store’s appeal to a more mainstream customer base without driving away her current regulars. There is a strict “no smoking” policy.
• Maspero’s Exchange (Elysium)
Originally named the Original Pierre Maspero’s Slave Exchange, this present-day coffee house and tourist site claims to be where Andrew Jackson and Jean Lafitte met to plan the defense of New Orleans during the War of 1812. There is a small plaque outside the building stating as such, though readers familiar with New Orleans history may recall another location with a plaque much like it at Jean Lafitte’s Old Absinthe House on Bourbon Street. The two establishments fought bitterly over the truth of their shared legend, but a court verdict ruled that neither one could meaningfully substantiate their claim. And so, both places were allowed to retain their plaques and claim to the same great historical honor. Besides its history, the building is now a well-reviewed restaurant and bar, a middling option away from the higher prices and bustle of Bourbon Street.
• Muriel’s Jackson Square (801 Chartres St.)*
Restaurant and séance lounge serving classic Creole fare.
• Napoleon House (Elysium) (500 Chartres St.)
The Napoleon house is one of many strange cases in New Orleans history: the building was set aside for an event that never came to pass and still carries that name into the present. French sentiment was strong in 1821 New Orleans and there was a rumored plot to rescue Napoleon Bonaparte from his exile on St. Helena and bring him to the Crescent City. Dominique You, a pirate and contemporary of Jean Lafitte, planned to lead a band of Baratarians (followers of Lafitte’s) on this expedition aboard his yacht the Seraphine. Nicholas Girod, a wealthy businessman and former mayor, offered to put Napoleon up in his house at 500 Chartres St. This plan never came to pass, however, as word of Napoleon’s death reached New Orleans before it could be set in motion. The property went through several incarnations: a private residence for Girod when he was mayor, a small grocery store, and finally a restaurant in 1914, which it remains to this day. Even at inception, the restaurant was kept in a state of remembrance for the French heart of the city, featuring classical music, framed paintings, and tasteful exposed stone work. The restaurant itself remains well-priced and famed for its itallian muffuletta sandwiches.
• Old Ursuline Convent (1100 Chartres St.)
The Old Ursuline Convent is the oldest building in the Mississippi River Valley. Completed in 1752, it is also the oldest surviving example of the French colonial period in the United States. Often referred to as the Archbishop Antoine Blanc Memorial Complex, the Old Ursuline Convent also houses the Archdiocesan archives and a small museum stating its founding. Along with the main building, housing many of the original rooms to preserve its history, the Convent has a massive well-manicured garden and courtyard complete with marble statues of the convents founding Ursuline sisters. The main lodge is filled with dozens of oil paintings of past archbishops, bishops, religious statues and bronze busts. The building never stopped seeing use over the years, and even served as a barracks for soldiers during the Civil War. Despite great interior alterations and decay, the Convent is considered one of the most important historical and religious landmarks in the United States and is one of the few remaining physical links with the French colonial period in Louisiana. In the World of Darkness, it continues to serve as a convent for the Ursuline nuns.
• Rillieux-Waldhorn House (343 Chartres St.)
Historic house built from 1795-1800 for Vincent Rillieux, a New Orleans merchant and great-grandfather of French Impressionist Edgar Degas. The design is attributed to Barthelemy Lafon, whose wrought iron balconies are notable examples of Spanish Colonial craftmanship. The structure was restored in 1972 by Freret & Wolf. Erected after the great fire of 1794, it has served as a home to three banks—Planters’ Bank from 1811-1820, the Bank of the United States from1 1820-1836, and the New Orleans Gas Light & Banking Co from 1836-1838. Since 1881, it has been home to the Waldhorn antique shop.
• Williams Research Center (Elysium) (410 Chartres St.)*
The Historic New Orleans Collection’s holdings are available to the general public in the Williams Research Center, situated on Chartres Street, just a few blocks from the main Collections campus.. Patrons have access to more than 30,000 library items, more than two miles of documents and manuscripts, a microfilm collection, and more than 500,000 photographs, prints, drawings, and paintings, as well as beautiful and unusual three-dimensional objects. Rare documents and manuscripts are available in microform and in the original. Built in 1915 in the Beaux Arts style, the two-story brick structure housing the WRC is the work of Edgar A. Christy, architect, and builder James A. Petty; it was erected to house the Second City Criminal Court and the Third District Police Station. The Chartres Street building was purchased by the State of Louisiana in 1957 and lay vacant for many years until the Collection bought the property in 1993. The exact reason for the long period in which the building sat vacant is unknown, but there are rumors it had much to do with the end of the Jim Crow era, and fear of black retribution for whites owning a place where many protesters were held against their will. The former police station turned research station for the well stories city is also supplemented with several other unmarked buildings on the street, lending space for archival storage and administration.
Decatur runs parallel to the docks along the Mississippi River, starting on Canal and ending at St. Ferdinand Street in the Marigny. Decatur was previously known as Rue de la Levee (“Levee Street”) but was renamed in 1870 after Stephen Decatur, the American naval war hero and commodore.
Basically a waterfront strip, the French Quarter part of Decatur Street has catered to sailors and hosted the kinds of businesses a big port would have. By the ’80s it still retained its port feel, especially in the Lower Decatur near Canal Street, but the part closer to Esplanade and Frenchmen Street became a bohemian haven with a vibrant goth and punk scene.
All that changed drastically in modern times, though some places remained, like Cafe du Monde, Central Grocery and Tujague’s. These days gentrification has replaced the punk clubs and dive bars with restaurants that cater to tourists, and bars and clubs that have more traditional jazz bands. There seems to be a candy store and a visitor center on every other block, and the number of places that sell po-boys, daiquiris and Mardi Gras masks is staggering.
In the World of Darkness, the parts of Decatur closest to the docks remain one of the roughest and most dangerous areas in New Orleans at night. More than a few unaware tourists and inebriated partygoers have learned this fact the hard way. A number of more violent Kindred who prefer fights from their prey prowl the area.
• Cafe Du Monde (800 Decatur St.)
The original Cafe Du Monde Coffee Stand was established in 1862 in the French Market. The cafe is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with the sole exception of Christmas Day. The original Cafe Du Monde is a traditional coffee shop. Its menu consists of dark roasted coffee and chicory, beignets, white and chocolate milk, and fresh-squeezed orange juice. The coffee is served black or au kait, in contrast with many of the almost artisan-level coffee common in other shops, giving it a classic feel. In 1988 iced coffee was introduced to the cafe, as well as soft drinks, making it a popular youth hangout.
• Tujague’s Restaurant (823 Decatur St.)
Tujague’s Restaurant has existed since before New Orleans bore its name. It briefly served as a Spanish armory and has survived decades of war, depression, fire and plague. Prosperity never smiled more broadly on New Orleans than it did when Tujague’s first opened its doors in 1856. The city’s growth during the 1850’s was immense, and for European emigrants in search of success, opportunity was everywhere for the taking. French immigrants started Tujague’s as a butcher shop, selling to dock workers and working men. Tujague’s became a recognized local institution and eventually attracted a number of luminaries, including Presidents Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, and France’s De Gaulle, Cole Porter, O. Henry, Diane Sawyer, Don Johnson, Harrison Ford, Margot Kidder, Dan Akroyd, Ty Cobb, John D. Rockefeller and more.
• House of Blues (225 Decatur St.)
Said to be “hard to find and harder to leave,” the New Orleans House of Blues is a combination live music venue, bar and restaurant named one of the city’s “hidden venues”, though it remains part of a larger franchise.
• Jax Brewery (600 Decatur St.)
Over 110 years old, and long since the days of being a brewhouse, the Shops at Jax Brewery has endured as a great landmark in the City of New Orleans. Designed and constructed by German-born and educated architect Dietrich Einsiedel in 1891, the Brewery was the largest independent brewery in the South and the tenth largest single-plant brewery in the country. Today the building is no longer a brewery, but a shopping center with four floors of stores, attractions, kiosks, restaurants, bars, and cafés, with extensive convention and private function spaces.
• French Market Inn (509 Decatur St.)
The original property deed was issued to a baker named Dreux in 1722, who opened up a shop on the ground floor and used the second floor for family living. The third floor of their property was used to store imported and exported goods. Wagons and carriages would drive through the archways in the courtyard to deliver goods and to pick up deliveries. The bakery often supplied the colonial Spanish, and later, the colonial French soldiers, who were stationed at the Place d’Armes (present-day Jackson Square). In the early 1830s, the Baroness de Pontalba purchased and refit the bakery. The Inn opened and was well received by both the local Creole families and many visitors to the Cosmopolitan City of New Orleans. The first hauntings were recorded in 1832. Guests claimed to see misty shapes entering the rooms of the inn after dark and heard loud metal noises echoing throughout the halls—reminiscent of the old pulley system the Dreux’s bakery used to hoist their goods to the upper levels back in the 18th century.
Jackson Square (701 Decatur St.)
The old town square and historic heart of New Orleans. Jackson Square (formerly Place d’Armes) was originally designed by architect and landscaper Louis H. Pilié (although he is only given credit for the iron fence) and is an open park the size of a city-block located at the center of the French Quarter. After the Battle of New Orleans it was named after victorious general Andrew Jackson, and an equestrian sculpture of the future president was erected that remains in place to this day.
The square originally overlooked the Mississippi River across Decatur Street, but the view was blocked in the 19th century by the building of larger levees. The riverfront was long given to shipping, but the administration of Mayor Moon Landrieu put in a scenic boardwalk along the river across from the Square, which is known as the “Moon Walk” in his honor. At the end of the 1980s additional old wharfs and warehouses were demolished to create Woldenberg Park, extending the riverfront promenade up to Canal Street.
The Cabildo (Elysium) (701 Chartres St.)
The Cabildo was the seat of government in New Orleans from 1788 until the 1850s, as well as the site of the Louisiana Purchase’s signing. The building takes its name from the governing body who met there—the “Illustrious Cabildo,” or city council. The original structure, which served as the seat of Spanish rule, was destroyed in the fire that swept through the French Quarter in 1788. At the time, rumor had it that Vidal’s agents set the fire and that the target had been early rebels against his reign who planned to meet a number of Kindred allies from France. The city rebuilt the Cabildo shortly after the fire, only to see it again burn down when another fire struck New Orleans in 1794.
Rebuilt yet again, it served as the center of government for the Spanish, French and Americans before becoming a museum in 1911. Savoy continued to use back rooms to conduct much of his business until 1988, when a four-alarm fire broke out in the building. Though most of the historical pieces were saved, the top floor and roof were destroyed. Although nothing was ever proved, some Kindred maintain that the fire was an abortive assassination attempt by either Vidal or Cimitiere to remove the French Quarter Lord.
• French Market (Elysium) (700-1010 Decatur St.)
Running alongside the Mississippi River at the edge of the French Quarter is New Orleans’ French Market. It’s part flea market, part souvenir shop, and part art show. Tourists and residents alike browse the market’s wares. Anything one might need is likely to be tucked away in a stall, from T-shirts to spices to jewelry.
Native Americans had established a trading post along the Mississippi River well before Europeans colonized the area. The market’s location shifted occasionally, but stayed in the general vicinity. Tradition claims the current location to be the site of an old Choctaw Indian trading post where the natives sold wild herbs, fish, and berries to the settlers. In 1791, the space that was once known as the Meat Market—the only place in the French Quarter where meat was allowed to be sold—became officially known as the French Market. It was largely an open-air market at first, with structures being added near constantly over the next 200 years. The French Market stretches six blocks, from Café du Monde in the market’s original location, down to the flea-market stalls across from the New Orleans Mint downriver.
• Moon Walk (768 Decatur St.)
When Jackson Square was first laid out in the 1720s, it looked out over the Mississippi river. In the second half of the nineteenth century, after the disastrous floods caused by a Mississippi levee failure, the original eighteenth century three-feet-high levee protecting New Orleans from flooding was heightened several times, creating a barrier between the city and the river. During the twentieth century, much of the riverfront was dedicated to industry and commerce and port authorities made the riverfront inaccessible for decades. This changed in 1976 when a promenade was constructed along the Mississippi River, which once again made the riverfront accessible from the French Quarter. The project was named for Mayor Maurice “Moon” Landrieu, during whose tenure the promenade was built. It’s become a popular place for visitors to enjoy the view and escape the city’s humidity, thanks to a constant breeze which keeps the air fresh and cool. The Moon Walk is also a popular place for street performers and chances are one will see jazz musicians playing for donations.
• Pontalba Buildings (500 St. Ann St. & 500 St. Peter St.)
The Pontalba Buildings form two sides of Jackson Square in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana. They are matching red-brick, one-block-long, four‑story buildings built in the late 1840s by the Baroness de Pontalba. The ground floors house shops and restaurants, while the upper floors are apartments that claim to be the oldest continuously-rented such apartments in the United States. According to Christina Vella, a historian of modern Europe, the Pontalba Buildings were not the first apartment buildings in the present-day U.S.: they were originally built as row houses, not rental apartments. The row houses were turned into apartments during renovations in the 1930s. Before then, the building sat empty and in a state of disrepair after Baroness de Pontalba died in France during 1874. The property changed hands many times after her death, passing from local philanthropists to the Louisiana State Museum and finally the city government, which contracted the necessary repairs and developments to make the apartments livable. Rumors abound as to why this process took sixty years, but some of the more popular theories include everything from severe hauntings to a curse put on the house by Baroness Pontalba herself, whose lover was reportedly murdered in the building by a jealous would-be suitor.
• The Presbytère (751 Chartres St.)
The Presbytère was designed in 1791 by Gilberto Guillemard to exactly match the Cabildo, or Town Hall, on the other side of St. Louis Cathedral. By 1798, only the first floor had been completed, and its second floor was not completed until 1813. Originally called the Casa Curial (Ecclesiastical House), its name derives from the fact that it was built on the former site of the residence, or presbytére, of the Capuchin monks. While intended to house clergy, it was never used as a religious residence much to the chagrin of many Spanish Catholic citizens. The building initially was used for commercial purposes until 1834, when it was used by the Louisiana Supreme Court. In 1853, cathedral officials sold the Presbytère to the city, and in 1908 the city sold it to the state. In 1911 it became part of the Louisiana State Museum and even declared a National Historic Landmark in 1970. Today, it exists as a museum and confusing landmark for tourists that plays second fiddle to the Cabildo. Many visitors find its museum more “exciting”, if less informative, than its twin in the Cabildo.
• Saint Louis Cathedral (Elysium) (615 Pere Antoine Alley)
The Cathedral-Basilica of Saint Louis, also called St. Louis Cathedral, is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans and is the oldest cathedral in the United States. The first church on the site was built in 1718. The third was built in 1789 and raised to cathedral status in 1793. The cathedral was expanded and largely rebuilt in 1850, with little of the 1789 structure remaining. Most notable of the pieces carried over was the original bell used in the 1819 bell tower. In 1909, a dynamite bomb was set off in the cathedral, blowing out windows and damaging galleries. The following year a portion of the foundation collapsed, necessitating the building’s closure while repairs were made. The church also survived the New Orleans hurricane of 1915 and was finally designated as a minor basilica in 1964 by Pope Paul VI. Today, the cathedral has an almost 6,000-strong congregation and is regularly visited by thousands of tourists each year. Antonio de Sedella is said to haunt the building and adjacent alley, but church leadership has so far denied every request for ghost tours and television programs to investigate.
Streets (West to East)
St. Louis Street
• Antoine’s (Elysium) (713 St. Louis St.)
Louisiana Creole cuisine restaurant established in 1840 by Antoine Alciatore. It’s still run by his descendants the Mayberrys, and is one of the oldest family-run restaurants in the United States. A New Orleans institution, it is notable for being the birthplace of several famous dishes, such as Oysters Rockefeller (so named for the richness of its sauce), Pompano en Papillote, Eggs Sardou and Pigeonneaux Paradis. It is also known for its VIP patrons including several U.S. presidents and Pope John Paul II.
Antoine’s features a 25,000 bottle capacity wine storage and 15 dining rooms of varying sizes and themes, with several featuring Mardi Gras krewe memorabilia. The lengthy menu (originally only in French, now in French and English) features classic French-Creole dishes. By tradition, it’s closed to the general public on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Mardi Gras. It can be reserved for private parties on these “Closed Days.” Advance reservations are required for dining during Mardi Gras and on weekends. Antoine Savoy has been known to frequent the establishment and jokingly refer to it as “his” restaurant.
The current owner describes Antoine’s food as “Haute Creole”, characterized as innovative and sophisticated Creole cooking with strong French traditions. The restaurant has a non-seasonal à-la-carte menu that features dishes with regional influences such as turtle, pompano, redfish, and shellfish, with preparation techniques that reflect a French aesthetic. Throughout its history and changing menus, Antoine’s has had very little Cajun influence, and featured no Italian foods. Antoine’s is also known for Café Brûlot, a drink made from coffee, orange liqueur, cinnamon stick, sugar, cloves, and lemon peels. At Antoine’s, the coffee is customarily flamed when it is served as part of a dessert course.
• Hermann-Grima House (820 St. Louis St.)
The Hermann-Grima House prides itself on being the earliest example of American architecture in the Quarter. Built in 1831, the structure all but oozes what life looked like for a wealthy Creole family during New Orleans’ golden age. The Federal-style mansion is noted for its stately interiors, courtyard gardens, horse stable, and outdoor kitchen. Peope have joked that occupants of the home were clearly barbecuing before their time. Like many buildings in the Quarter, it is purported to be haunted.
• Omni Royal Orleans (Elysium) (621 St. Louis St.)
Situated on the cross street of Chartres and St. Louis, the Omni Royal Orleans has a venerated reputation and history in the French Quarter, so much so that Arthur Hailey’s New York Times best-seller Hotel called it “the best hotel in North America”. At conception, it was to be a “Creole palace, a place for aristocrats to meet and do business, to eat and drink and make love, to buy slaves and sell plots of land on the banks of the Mississippi.” It was Louis Armstrong’s hotel of choice, the setting of the Led Zeppelin song “Royal Orleans”, and even James Bond himself stayed in the hotel in the 1973 film Live and Let Die. The hotel is built in the Spanish colonial style, renovated to match the hurricane-destroyed St. Louis Hotel in style but not scale, with an interior done in gold, whites, and reds, with great bronze statues and crystal chandeliers. Like most old buildings in the French Quarter, the Royal is rumored to be haunted.
• The Dungeon (738 Tolouse St.)
S&M dungeon-club that opens at midnight.
St. Peter Street
• Le Petit Theatre (616 St Peter St.)
Le Petite Theatre du Vieux Carre is one of the country’s oldest “petite” or “community” theaters. Established in the Roaring ‘20s, it had humble beginnings as a passion project for a group of local thespians. The property it currently stands on has been renovated multiple times to match the centerpiece of the 1790s Spanish colonial corner building, including the demolition of several smaller structures before their opening. Richard Koch is responsible for the matching design of the admittedly stunning theater interior and stage. For 90 years, the theater ran smoothly, featuring everything from local playwrights to New Orleans classics written by masters like A Streetcar named Desire, of which every second season seems to have a showing. In the 2000s, however the theater took a nosedive. Poor management brought about many misfortunes, including the firing of an art director, the hiring of a third party company, and their own firing the next month. The theater was on the verge of closure before a deal was struck with the Dolan family, who own a half-dozen of the Quarter’s best-known restaurants. The Dolans bought a 60 percent share of the building, retired its million-dollar debt, and opened another restaurant called “Tableau” during the extensive renovations. To this day, the theater remains open.
• Preservation Hall (Elysium) (726 St. Peter St.)
Historic, all-ages jazz bar.
• Bourbon Orleans Hotel (717 Orleans St.)
Historic hotel. When it opened in 1819 as the Orleans Theatre & Ballroom, it became the setting for Europoean operas and entertainment for Creole society in New Orleans, and was purportedly where Andrew Jackson announced his 1828 presidential campaign. In 1881 the Sisters of the Holy Family, the order founded by Henriette DeLille in 1842, purchased the former Orleans Ballroom and convert the building into a convent. The Sisters eventually annexed the site of the former Orleans Theater and built an orphanage and school. In 1964, the nuns sold the property to the Bourbon Kings Hotel Corporation, who opened it in 1966 as a luxury hotel. Stories of the rooms and corridors of the Bourbon Orleans Hotel being haunted are about as old as the hotel itself.
St. Ann Street
• Madame John’s Legacy (632 Dumaine St.)
Long thought to be the oldest building on the Mississippi River, Madame John’s Legacy was one of the few buildings in the Quarter to escape the Great Fire of 1795. With its French raised cottage appearance, many architecture fans come to marvel at the dormered roof extending over the structure’s veranda.
St. Philips Street
• Hotel Villa Convento (Elysium) (616 Ursulines Ave)
Accented with Greek revival styles, and a Creole townhouse foundation, there are not many hotels that can offer the same French Quarter flare that the Hotel Villa Convento can. Convento is the most likely inspiration for the 1964 song “House of the Rising Sun” by The Animals. Lyrics paint the property as a former bordello, which is not uncommon in New Orleans’ history, many brothels having been shut down and repurposed for different uses—although this has brought some amount of shame on the property’s original owners, the Ursuline Nuns. Like many of New Orleans oldest properties, the Convento has changed hands more times than a bottle of liquor. The building finally met its current owners in 1981, who converted it into a hotel that remains open to this day. While the hotel itself is well-reviewed, cozy, and even has a “Jimmy Buffet suite” where the famous musician once graced the hotel, one of its most famous draws is its purported paranormal activity. The hotel’s most famous ghost is “the Madame,” who is said to exhibit amorous intentions towards male guests, the only patrons able to see her.
Gov. Nichols Street
Esplanade Avenue, the other main Downtown thoroughfare, contrasts heavily with Elysian Fields. The tree-lined roadway forms the north boundary of the French Quarter, running from the river to Bayou St. John and terminating at City Park. Unlike the thoroughfares in the French Quarter, Esplanade Avenue goes strictly through residential areas, and some of New Orleans’ finer, older middle-class homes line the road. Several of Savoy’s people are thought to maintain havens in the area.
• Giovannini Manse (1020 Esplande)
Originally a private mansion built in 1835, 1020 Esplande was extensively remodeled in 1920 and served as a center for various Italian-American fraternal organizations. It was also rented out to record companies that visited New Orleans in the 1920s, and recorded sessions from such musicians as Jimmie Rogers and the Jones-Collins Astoria Hot 8. In the second half of the 20th century the building was purchased by the Giovannini. It now serves as the clan’s “embassy” and headquarters in New Orleans. Although Vidal has attempted to discourage the necromancers’ presence from his city, he has been unable to enforce this dictate in the Quarter, and Savoy seems all too happy to let more Kindred with an axe to grind against Vidal make their home in his domain. The building itself, like many in the Quarter, is purportedly haunted. Given the now decades-long tenants, few Kindred believe those stories to be an exaggeration.
• Old U.S. Mint (400 Esplanade Ave)
Built in 1835, the Old U.S. Mint is the only building in America to have served both as a United States and a Confederate Mint. President Andrew Jackson advocated the Mint’s establishment in order to help finance development of the nation’s western frontier. Renowned architect William Strickland designed the building in the then-popular Greek Revival style. Three years after the building opened, in 1838, minting began. In 1861, Louisiana seceded from the Union. For a short time, it was used to mint Confederate currency and to house Confederate troops. The building is now the home of the New Orleans Jazz Museum. Through dynamic interactive exhibits, multigenerational educational programming, research facilities and engaging musical performances, the music New Orleans made famous is explored in all its forms. Like many other buildings in the French Quarter, the Mint is purportedly haunted by ghosts.