In 1824 Auctioneer and businessman Joseph Le Carpentier (Le Carpentier was said to have sold goods for Pirate Jean Lafitte) purchased two lots across from the Ursaline Convent on the corner of Chartres and Arsenal (now Ursalines). Le Carpentier then employed an architect to construct a grand home and garden where he and his family would live until 1835. The estate was purchased by John Merle, who became Swiss counsel in New Orleans. The property would next be purchased by the Andry family of St Charles Parish who later sold to Dominique Lanata, who was Consul-General of Sardina in New Orleans. Purchased as an investment property, the estate would become home to it’s first tenant; war hero, Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard. He and his family would remain in the home until 1869.
In 1904, Lanata sold the home to Corrado Giacona, a wholesale liquor distributor. The Giaconas, said to have had ties with the Sicilian Mafia, would soon begin experiencing “difficulties”. On June 18, 1908, Corrado’s father, Pietro, shot 4 members of the “Black Hand” mafia while on the back gallery of the house. Both Pierto and Carrodo were indicted for murder but the case was dropped in 1910; the general consensus being that Pietro had done the city a favor rather than committed a crime. Pietro passed in 1917, Corrado and his mother would place the house up for auction when it would be purchased by Antonio Mannino, a wedded relative of the Giacona family. The Mannino family then sold to the Owens family who would ultimately sell to world famous author, Francis Scott Keyes, who established the estate as a museum as which it still stands today.
Now that we have discussed the history of the home and it’s inhabitants, we may better understand who and why the spirits are which haunt it.
Paul Munni (Morphy), world class Chess player and heir of Le Carpentier, is said to have gone insane while living at the estate. Legend states that Munni, while in a crazed state, ran naked from the home and out into Ursaline street armed with a large axe; he was looking to kill whoever crossed his path. Once successful in his task, Munni was subdued by police and that is where the tale ends. Passers-by claim to have seen him running naked from the house into the street before disappearing into thin air. Munni also liked to play the piano and can sometimes be heard playing as he screams wildly into the night.
One of the most outstanding displays of paranormal activity is said to take place in the early morning hours when the main hall is alit with gory images from the Battle of Shiloh. General Beauregard and his men appear in full confederate attire, the sound of their feet marching can be heard just as the battle takes full force. One can smell the strong odor of freshly spilled blood and rotting flesh as well as the stench of burning gunpowder. There are those who have reported seeing soldiers with blown away faces and mangled limbs as they grasped desperately to their last living moments. Among the images of the dying men are the remains of horses and mules scattered about as if having encountered the full force of a cannon. There have also been reports from passers by who could hear a raspy voice gasping out the words “Shiloh, Shiloh” as if suffering the loss of the battle.
Just down the way from the main hall is the ballroom where in the twilight hours a lone fiddler can be seen, and heard as he plays for for a room full of dancing apparitions donning gowns and tuxedos.
The main hall is not the only place where the smell of blood and gunpowder will burn the visitors’ nostrils. Gunshots can be heard late at night from within the estate as they echo through the garden just beyond the back gallery where the “Black Hand” mafia associates met their demise. Their shadows can also be seen ducking through the foliage as Pietro fires his weapon.
As an additional “oddity” the home is also reportedly haven to a ghost dog and cat. The dog is said to have been owned by Francis Scott Keyes. After Keyes passing, the dog was inconsolable and within a few days, he would follow his master. The cat is thought to have been owned by the Le Carpentier family.