Originally dubbed “Bon Sejour” (Pleasant Sojourn) by it’s original owner Jacques Telesphore Roman III, this majestic structure would come to be known as “Oak Alley” indicative of the 300+ year old oak trees, which line it’s .25 mile long driveway.
Oak Alley was constructed during a two year time span beginning in 1837 and ending in 1839; over 100 years after it’s mammoth Oaks were planted by a French settler that had once lived on the grounds. Though built to suit the high standards of Josephine Pile, the wife of Jacques, the elaborate estate would not hold her fancies for long.
Josephine had been well known among the most elite circles of New Orleans and yearned to return to the big city social life. She would often return with her children to visit the city. As time passed, the visits became more frequent and longer, leaving Jacques alone within the home that he had built for her. Jacques would die home alone in 1848 of Tuberculosis.
After Jacques passing, his son Henri, would take over the family home. During this period Oak Alley experienced many blows brought on by the Civil War. Vandalism and looting brought her to her knees and by 1866 she was sold at public auction to John Armstrong. The plantation would pass ownership through many hands until purchased by Andrew and Josephine Stewart.
The Stewart’s would spend the remainder of their lives restoring Oak Alley, which would become the first antebellum restoration in the South. When Josephine died in 1972, Oak Alley was left to the “Oak Alley Foundation” a non-profit organization which she had founded. In 1998, Oak Alley would be opened to the public as a bed and breakfast with guided tours.
History of Hauntings
While the original structure was under construction, a slave named Antoine was known by all as the head grounds keeper. Antoine was known for grafting pecan trees and is responsible for breeding what we know now as the soft shell pecan. His original hybrid trees still stand on the estate grounds.
Antoine loved the estate and dedicated his life to caring for the grounds, it is said that he can still be seen meandering about beneath the sprawling Oaks and among the pecan trees which he had created and cared for.
Louise Roman, daughter of Jacques and Josephine, was raised to the same social standards of her mother. During her courting years, Louise became angered by a suitor who had drank too much and in his drunken state, attempted to kiss her. Furious over his actions, Louise ran away from him. In her rage, she tripped and fell, slicing her leg open on the metal frame of her hoop skirting. The wound developed gangrene resulting in the loss of her leg.
Now seeing herself as damaged goods and no longer worthy of the attentions of those within her social standing, Louise retreated to a convent in St. Louis; she would return to Oak Alley in her late years in order to live out the last of her days. She is often seen wandering throughout the home, many guests have heard her crying over both the loss of her leg and social status.
Josephine Roman is frequently seen wandering from room to room, making sure that everything is in order. Josephine has been caught on camera many times both by investigators and guests alike.
Jacques died lonely in his beloved home, his shadowy apparition is sometimes spotted around the back of the estate. He is always seen in a gray suit wearing his riding boots. Jacques also makes appearances in a mirror that is now stored in the attic.
Josephine Stewart was said to favor the lavender room, perhaps that is why she is frequently seen walking about the room, sometimes she is seen sitting on the bed and is known to turn on the lamp at nightfall.
A fantastic list of apparitions, but that’s not all folks! Things are known to be flung about, thrown by unseen hands. Many items have been reported missing by guests, only to be recovered by the staff at a later date either near or in the same place from where they previously vanished.
On rare occasions the sound of a hours drawn carriage can be heard on the driveway as it approached the estate, the sound vanishes just upon it’s arrival at the front steps.
Oak Alley has been investigated by several well known paranormal researchers. Sci-Fi’s Ghost Hunters, The Travel Channel’s, Ghost Adventures and TAPS have all reported intriguing activity citing both photographic and EVP evidence. Many have had encounters during their stay. One particular incident occurred during the middle of a guided tour. Imagine the surprise of both the tour guide and 35 patrons when witnessing a candlestick fly from the mantle across the room!
Oak Alley has definitely earned her title as one of Louisiana’s most haunted, book your stay or guided tour soon, it’s definitely on my bucket list!