Beautiful wrought-iron balconies overlook bustling Royal Street, and, often enough, street performers are camped out a block or so away--the haunting sounds of blues hang in the breeze, just as the soulful voice singing rocks you back on your heels in awe.
The Andrew Jackson Hotel is situated in the heart of the French Quarter, amidst all the entertainments and culture the city has to offer. The hotel, even, has been listed on the National Register for Historic Places since 1965. And though the two-story brick building has existed on the lot since 1890, the history of this lot of land transcends centuries.
It only makes sense that the hotel’s grounds carries the residual energy of the spirits and ghosts of all who came before the Andrew Jackson.
Eighteenth century New Orleans was a pit of disease, death, and (oftentimes) destitution. It was not uncommon for families to lose loved ones, especially during the yellow fever epidemics that ravaged the city nearly every summer. Childhood mortality rates were exceedingly high, but strangely, it was often the adults who succumbed to the disease. Men between the ages of 15 and 40 were even more susceptible to the grips of yellow fever, almost always certainly dying and leaving their respective families without a head of the household.
Ironically enough, if a person managed to survive the bout of yellow fever--which included, but was not limited to, high fevers, vomiting, chills, jaundice and liver failure--he or she became immune for life. (And, thus, yellow fever became a rather perverse game of Russian roulette for the thousands of people which it plagued every summer).
With so many children in need of schooling (either those with parents or those whom had been left without), the plot of land which the Andrew Jackson Hotel sits on presently was at first, an all boys boarding school, installed in 1792 by the Spanish Colonial Government. The boarding school saw initial success, but the longevity of the school was not destined to be.
In 1794, two fires swept through the city. The first was smaller, but one account goes as far as to say that the boarding school (though they use the term, “orphanage”) swayed and shook as a hurricane whirled through the city, the fire nipping on its heels. There is not much information on the cause of this particular fire, but the second one in December of 1794 was said to have consumed the city and all of its fine structures, including the boarding school itself.
Is this actually true, though? For nearly a century historians and archaeologists alike have concluded that the boarding school burned in the fiery grips of a city-wide fire in 1794. We at Ghost City Tours think there might be more to this story that has thus far been undiscovered or not researched fully. While digging into the Andrew Jackson Hotel's history, the Ghost City Tours team came upon something a little strange. An article dated from the 1850s lists that the property at 919 Royal Street was one of the few buildings to survive "the great conflagrations of 1792, when all that portion of New Orleans was devastated." Later, the article goes on to say that when the 1803 Louisiana Purchase was signed the property was converted into the Federal Courthouse . . . and even up until the time in which the article was written, 919 Royal Street underwent very minimal architectural alterations.
If this is the case, did a smaller fire perhaps still wreck the boarding school that once existed on this site? That question remains unanswered . . . for now.
And yet, if those reports are to be believed, five boys perished in that fire that December, and it seems that the ghosts of those young boys have not left the site in which they died.
Almost immediately after the boarding school reportedly burned down to the ground, the site of the Andrew Jackson Hotel became home to the old Federal Courthouse in New Orleans. To all the Jackson-fans out there, know that the Federal Courthouse was the location where General Jackson was indicted for contempt of court and was charged with obstruction of justice because he refused to answer interrogation questions.
Perhaps we should rewind a bit:
December of 1814 saw General Jackson declaring martial law all throughout New Orleans. No one was allowed to enter the city; no was allowed to leave. Though Jackson had only just defeated the British at the Battle of New Orleans (which was not just one battle, but actually four) on the sprawling field of current day Chalmette (and after which the Brits had dug themselves a canal, only to forget their ladders at the start), Jackson prepared for another invasion. He feared the Brits sneaking in, and perhaps his fears were justified, for a naval battle took place on January 19th.
But by the time March of 1815 rolled around . . . oh, it would be safe to say that a good many people in the city were tired of Jackson’s high-handed ways. One man in particular, Louis Louaillier, a member of the state legislature, anonymously wrote an article in which he completely criticized Jackson’s tactics. Naturally Jackson discovered Louaillier’s identity, and naturally he had Louaillier imprisoned. An order for Louailler’s release was given by one Judge Hall.
Naturally, Jackson then had Judge Hall imprisoned, too.
(Anyone sensing a pattern here?)
Judge Hall was banished from the city of New Orleans on Jackson’s orders until the time that the peace treaty was ratified and the Brits had fled Louisiana’s coastline. Only then did Jackson release all of his prisoners.
On Judge Hall’s return, however, his fury knew no bounds. He demanded Jackson appear at the courthouse, the latter of whom who apparently showed up dressed shabbily as a civilian. Though Jackson requested a trial by jury, Judge Hall refused and slapped the general with a $1,000 fine. (Forget scorned women, Hell hath no fury like a judge booted from his home). Though many New Orleanians offered to pay Jackson, whom they loved so dearly, he rejected the offer and asked that the people give their money to the widows and orphans of New Orleans, who had lost their fathers, husbands and brothers in the Battle of New Orleans. In 1844, the year before Jackson died, Congress actually ordered that the fine delivered by Judge Hall be repaid to Jackson with interest. He was given $2,700.
The courthouse remained on that plot of land--tragically drama-free, as Jackson had moved on to become president--until the building was demolished in the early 1900s. The structure that is the Andrew Jackson Hotel was constructed in its place.
While giving us a tour of the property, Cody McLain, the Assistant General Manager, expressed that his love for the Andrew Jackson Hotel is deep: "This is a landmark, an actual landmark. That means that something of historical value happened here."
And that's certainly true. Today the Andrew Jackson Hotel is one of the most stayed in and visited hotels in the French Quarter. Priding itself on offering European flare with French Quarter hospitality, the Andrew Jackson Hotel has the top-notch amenities visitors of New Orleans like to enjoy: free in-room breakfasts (for those late mornings after hitting Bourbon Street), a 24-hour front desk, valet parking.
But what the Andrew Jackson truly embodies is a building that transports its guests to a bygone era. Eighteenth century furniture decorates the guestrooms and main lobby; a gorgeous interior courtyard provides seating for those seeking a tranquil atmosphere away from the noise of the French Quarter. Quite plainly, the hotel’s rich history appears to seep from the walls itself.
If the walls of the hotel could say anything at all, one thing they would assuredly remark upon would be the Andrew Jackson’s flare for the paranormal . . . and the ghosts who still walk the corridors of the historic building. As McLain told us, "This one [the Andrew Jackson Hotel] has my heart because of the history. And, I'll admit it, the ghosts, too." But which ghosts are still haunting this historical property today?
It seems that the ghosts of the five boys who perished in the fire still haunt the hotel today.
(Perhaps I should have specified that the dead do not have to play by the rules of the living, and very rarely do).
The ghosts of these young boys have been heard playing in the courtyard in the middle of the night. One guest even reported being woken up from his sleep because of the static noise coming from the TV. Leaning over to grab the remote control, he wondered how the TV had been turned on since he had shut it off before closing his eyes for the night and had set the remote on the bedside table. Shifting up in bed, he aimed the remote at the TV, only to involuntarily freeze at the sight before him. Seated before the TV on the ground was the ghostly apparition of a young boy. The guest released a hoarse shout, and the apparition vanished immediately from sight.
Cody McLain informed us that the ghosts of the children who perished in the fire are not relegated to one area of the hotel. They've been heard by Room 208, 107, 109 and even within the courtyard space, as well. But one recent guest heard something slightly different than childish laughter or gentle footsteps padding about. After spending the night, she broached the front desk to explain that she had heard what she interpreted as cereal being poured out onto the ground, then, the unmistakable noise of child-like giggling. McLain immediately told us that he had no idea what could have caused "cereal" to be spilled; moreover, that was the first time he had ever heard of such a thing from one of the hotel's guests.
One has to wonder: Is this one of the ghostly children playing harmless pranks upon the living? (And, more importantly in my opinion, what type of cereal? Here's to hoping that it was Fruit Loops or Lucky Charms).
It definitely seems safe to say that the ghostly children who have remained in the Andrew Jackson Hotel have set about making themselves incredibly comfortable in their new surroundings!
Guests who have stayed in Room 208 have witnessed numerous paranormal sightings, especially that of a ghostly child named “Armond” (or Armand). Various tales have been spun about Armond, all of which reflect upon the young boy’s rather horrific death. In one account, Armond was thrown from the second-floor balcony; in another, Armond committed suicide, launching himself off the balcony to his death on the street below. Despite the confusion on just how poor Armond died, his spirit has never left the Andrew Jackson Hotel and Room 208 seems to be his preferred haunting spot.
Armond’s spirit has been known to wake guests from their sleep with his childish (and ghostly) giggling and laughter. At other times, people staying in Room 208 have actually been bodily shoved out of the bed from an unseen, and probably paranormal, force. Others have reported that while sleeping, they felt the covers being tugged down as a cold caress skims their exposed flesh and a chill sweeps over their bodies.
Armond’s ghost doesn’t appear to be aggressive, but it is clear that he likes to play games with the living. But is it possible that Armond is not the only spirit haunting Room 208?
After staying an hour or two in Room 208, many guests have actually clambered down the stairs to the front desk, in a hope that they might be able to switch rooms. Whenever the front desk attendant asks the reason for the switch, guests exclaim that they experienced a strange, eery feeling within the room, as though someone--or something--was watching them. Overhead lights switch on and with no rational explanation, and the faucets are known to turn on by themselves. Personal belongings have disappeared, sometimes to appear in another area of the room, other times to never reappear again.
Is the ghost of Armond responsible for all of the pranks and paranormal activity in Room 208? It is entirely possible, but it also seems unlikely that the spirit of a young child would have the ability to make the living feel such a sense of dread or despair. But then again, there is something in paranormal research called 'Transference'. When you're experiencing this, you are actually experiencing the thoughts or feelings of the ghost around you. Perhaps those children's last moments, as the fire closed in, is responsible for those feelings.
While Room 208 may contain a dark spirit, the Andrew Jackson Hotel is also haunted by the ghost of a woman, who many suspect might have been a housekeeper in the hotel at some point in its long history. Her spirit is known to straighten towels or fluff pillows; to reset furniture arrangements to her particular liking. In the Andrew Jackson, it is not uncommon at all to re-enter a room and find the chairs moved closer to the window, or swapped around entirely.
Members of the cleaning staff have expressed the feeling of being watched while they go about their daily routine, though most of the staff assumes that the ghost of the housekeeper is responsible. Disembodied footsteps are heard climbing the stairs and back down at all times of the day and night. (Clearly this ghost likes to ensure that things are still up to speed, even though she is no longer in charge.)
The ghost of this caretaker has been spotted most frequently in the lobby of the hotel and in some of the rooms on the second floor.
According to the various accounts of those who have stayed in the Andrew Jackson Hotel, the ghost of the hotel’s namesake has remained, as well. Guests report seeing the good General’s actual apparition parading about the hotel, especially on the second floor of the hotel.
Tim, owner and founder of Ghost City Tours, and resident paranormal investigator, has discussed how he finds this paranormal sighting somewhat unlikely. Although it would be incredibly exciting that General Jackson is haunting the hotel, there remains the pressing question of why?
As Tim has said, “In my mind, I don’t see why Andrew Jackson would be haunting this location. Because the Hotel is named after him? It doesn’t add up in my head. So, if it isn’t the ghost of Andrew Jackson, whose ghost could be haunting the hotel? It is hard to say. After all, many men spent time either here in this building or one of the buildings that used to stand at this location. It could have been one of so many men.”
Looks like Ghost City Tours might have to do an investigation at the Andrew Jackson Hotel to solve this particular paranormal mystery.
(My bet is that the “ghost” of Andrew Jackson and the spirit in Room 208 might be one in the same.)
Millions of people flock to New Orleans each year for a variety of reasons, whether it be for business or pleasure or just because. Do you know where you’re staying when you get to the Big Easy? Are you looking for that extra something during your stay? The Andrew Jackson Hotel might just be it.
But, remember, if you hear the lilting sounds of children laughing, or if you feel the gentle caress of a fingertip slide down your arm while you sleep . . . just remember that you’re not alone. But who is with you, and which ghost might it be? Your guess is as good as ours. Good luck!
The Andrew Jackson Hotel is located at 919 Royal Street, right in the heart of the French Quarter. For more information about staying at the Andrew Jackson Hotel please visit their website.
Or, should you be keen on learning what paranormal activity we discovered at this haunted hotel during our first public investigation here in 2016, follow this link here to get all of the juicy, ghostly information - with EVPs sound bites!
If you're looking for the perfect way to learn more about haunted New Orleans, check out one of our New Orleans Ghost Tours. We look forward to showing you around our beautifully haunted city.