Ghosts don’t wait for Halloween to make an appearance at the Myrtles Plantation in St. Francisville, Louisiana. This Creole-style home built in 1796 is often cited as one of America’s most haunted houses and unexplained apparitions are common year-round.
The Myrtles, which is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, is a beautiful 22-room mansion with a long wrap-around verandah, decorative wrought iron work and interior features that include a French Baccarat crystal chandelier and Carrara marble mantels in two parlour rooms. But along with the grandeur is an unsettling past.
It’s said that no fewer than a dozen people have been murdered in and around the plantation, which was built on a sacred and ancient Tunica Indian burial ground.
One of the best-known ghosts is Chloe, a household servant who, feeling she was falling out of favour with her master, Judge Clark Woodruff, baked a poison-filled cake that killed three members of his family. She was later murdered for the deed and her spirit is believed to still haunt the grounds. Witnesses say she wears a turban on her head while her body appears as a transparent blue mist. According to guides, Chloe is just one of about 12 ghosts on the plantation.
Another one is believed to be that of William Drew Winter, a lawyer who lived in the house from 1865 until 1871. Shot by a stranger, he staggered up the stairs for help and died on the 17th step. Over the years, both visitors and employees have reported hearing footsteps on those very same stairs.
A tour of the house is filled with spooky sights. For example, a large framed mirror contains hand prints that seem ingrained in the glass. Although the mirror has been replaced several times, the hand prints always return. “These are spirits trapped in the home,” says one guide.
Then there’s the case of the mysterious family cat. Photos of the pet were taken regularly, but often when the image was developed, an empty circle appeared where the cat should’ve been. Visitors get to see these photos, as well as hear recordings of various unexplained sounds.
Local ghosts apparently also play havoc with media who come to document the alleged hauntings. Various film crews, for example, have said they experienced technical difficulties with their equipment while in the home.
With so many ghostly sightings, not to mention beds that shake and broken clocks that tick, it’s not surprising the Myrtles Plantation has been featured in many books, magazines, newspapers and television shows over the years. The reports of paranormal activities have also made it a popular tourist attraction. The Myrtles is a B&B, so in addition to taking a guided tour of the property, you can stay overnight – if you dare!