Though public records indicate that in 1780, a previous home occupied the corner of Dauphine and Orleans, it is the Gardette – Laprete house which still stands today. Built in 1836 by Jean Baptist LePrete, the 4 story mansion would dominate the French Quarter both in stature and legend for over 150 years.
The meticulously designed home was never permanently occupied as LePrete lived on his plantation in Plaquemines. During the social seasons, LePrete would entertain his family and guests there, usually when the French Opera was in town. The homes’ peaceful existence would soon come to an end when a wealthy Turkish merchant arrived in New Orleans. The merchant sought out LePrete to ask for use of the property on behalf of the brother of a Sultan. LePrete, was happy to oblige. An additional stream of income and the security of having the home occupied were means for a bargain. What had not been disclosed during negotiations was the fact that the newly proclaimed Sultan that would be occupying the home had robbed his brother of his gold and jewels then fled to New Orleans.
The Sultan moved into LePretes’ mansion and along with him came his guards and his harem. The Sultan’s harem consisted of women of all shapes, ages and sizes, most of which had been abducted from the home of his brother or from off of the streets of New Orleans. Besides the women, the Sultan also owned young Arab boys in which to sate his twisted palate. Both the women and boys would be raped and beaten and in many cases, murdered, all at the whim of the cruel Sultan.
Though atrocities abounded within the beautiful home, there were many elaborate parties thrown by the Sultan. All of the elite would attend these lavish events. The mansion had become the center of all social activities in the area. The Sultan had more than fortified the home. The windows and doors had been covered and his men patrolled the grounds with curved swords in their belt-lines. Not one of the area socialites had any way to know of the atrocities that occurred within the grand estate. But soon, all of the frivolities would come to a gruesome end.
One morning, a neighbor was walking along the sidewalk in front of the mansion. He noticed that it was eerily quiet and that there were no guards patrolling the grounds. He then looked up to see blood seeping from beneath the front entrance and onto the steps below. When authorities arrived they attempted to summon the inhabitants by pounding at the front door. When there was no response, the door was broken down. Beyond the entrance lay the gruesome remnants of a bizarre massacre, the entirety of which was never fully recorded due to the horrific details. Blood splatters covered the walls and furnishings. Sordid body parts lay strewn on every floor of every level of the once envied home. Every man woman and child associated with the Sultan had been slaughtered. There was evidence of rape and torture at every turn; the inhabitants had all suffered tormented deaths. The body of the Sultan was discovered in a shallow grave behind the house. He had been badly mutilated then buried alive.
To this day the murders have never been solved. The only proven fact is that robbery was a factor as the home had been ram-sacked and all of the Sultans riches had disappeared. Many rumors abounded. Some say that the Sultan, his harem and his men had been murdered by the same pirates that brought him into the Port of New Orleans. Others believe that the Sultan had been hunted down by his brother and killed as an act of revenge.
The home changed hands many times and has risen and fallen only to rebound to it’s former glory. Once nearly dilapidated and abandoned, the home was remodeled and opened as an art studio, later it served as an apartment complex. Many of those who have lived or worked within the grand structure have reported hearing screams throughout the interior of the home as well as the exterior. Some have claimed to see the Sultan himself, easily identified by his light colored hair despite his Turkish descent.
These reports have been ongoing for decades and all are similar in their claims. The Sultan’s home has been investigated on many occasions by paranormal experts. Some of these investigations have yielded interesting EVP recordings as well as recorded unexplainable movement and occurrences.