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Who haunts the houses and buildings of Acadiana, a region rich in culture and history? Those who refuse to leave hang in shadows, tease us with weird happenings, and some even show themselves in the dark of night.
Here are a few scary places to visit in Lafayette, but only if you’re brave enough to face the unexplained.
The building that houses Café Vermilionville dates to 1818 and is one of the oldest in Lafayette. Needless to say, a long and varied history has passed through its doors. The two-story house on Pinhook was used as an inn for travelers on what was once called the Old Spanish Trail, and it stood in the crossfire between Confederates and Union soldiers during the Civil War.
Stories maintain that a Yankee officer paid too much attention to a local woman and the woman’s husband killed him in what is now the lobby of Café Vermilionville. The floors have been replaced since those violent days, but the original wood contained his bloodstains.
People have witnessed a man sporting a handlebar mustache in the bar. But most of the paranormal activity has been bottles falling off shelves, unexplained cold patches, and cash registers acting on their own. One of the weirdest events happened within a second-floor room that had been boarded up, a room containing several old paintings and an oversized map of Louisiana. When the owners opened the door later, the map and paintings were ripped and lying on the floor, the brown paper on the backs destroyed as well.
Some believe the daughter of Dr. Percy M. Girard haunts the establishment, a child who died just shy of her seventh birthday of scarlet fever. Some have seen a little girl wearing a blue dress in the lobby and in the upstairs window.
Years ago, the Advocate newspaper of Baton Rouge rented an old two-story Victorian house on Johnston Street as their Acadiana bureau. Reporters and photographers routinely complained of unusual sounds within the old home and the sight of a woman dressed in Civil War-era attire lingering at the top of the stairs. The building has been torn down, and all that remains is a vacant lot and several beautiful oak trees.
And possibly a woman who refuses to leave.
Some say a one-legged brother haunts the gym of Cathedral Carmel School in the heart of downtown Lafayette, a Catholic school affiliated with the De La Salle Christian Brothers. People have heard sounds of footsteps and seen lights going on and off. One parent even captured the image of a man in black within a photograph — who wasn’t there in real life.
When Dat Dog opened a location on Jefferson Street, they were amazed to find that the building was once a mortuary and that someone — whether an owner or a deceased client — still haunts the upstair’s bar. A spirit of a different nature.
T-Frere’s Bed and Breakfast
One of the most haunted houses in Lafayette, T-Frere’s story of a young widow named Amelie, who died in the well out back, has been passed down for decades. Amelie supposedly lost her husband and child, worked as a math teacher, and either fell or jumped into the well after acquiring a fever. Other stories emerged, including Amelie marrying a person the family did not approve of, and both were thrown in the well. And then there’s the owner of the house. The namesake Oneziphore Comeaux (Little Brother in English) who lived here with a large family, according to census records, but Amelie was not among them.
Without records backing up Amelie’s story, it’s difficult to know the real story. One thing’s for sure, someone or some people haunt T-Frere’s Bed and Breakfast. Paranormal investigators have picked up voice recordings and other ethereal evidence. Visitors have also spotted a petite woman speaking French, and some sleeping tourists have felt strange touches in the night.
Image courtesy of WayMarking.com
Downtown owns two gorgeous cemeteries, St. John Cemetery next to the cathedral, where thousands of early Lafayette settlers were buried beginning in 1821, and Hebrew Rest Cemetery, created in 1869 for the town’s Jewish residents. Notables buried in St. John include town founder Jean Mouton and U.S. diplomat Ambassador Jefferson Caffery. Hebrew Rest, also known as Menachim Aveilim Cemetery, contains numerous Jewish leaders of Lafayette but also one of the most photographed spots in town, that of the dramatic, massive angel at its center.
At the St. Joseph’s Catholic Church cemetery in Rayne, graves were buried in an unusual north-south direction instead of the traditional east-west formation to greet the rising sun. Because the graves were situated in this way, the cemetery has been mentioned in “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!”
University of Louisiana at Lafayette dorms
Image courtesy of CarterBlog.Typepad.com
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a university campus without a ghost story. Many are similar, such as the suicidal co-ed or the girl who fell down the elevator shaft.
But, maybe there’s a universal truth happening here.
Rumors have it that a female student in the 1960s stepped into an out-of-service elevator and was killed in Denbo Dorm on the University of Louisiana at Lafayette campus. The dormitory has been torn down but in the 1980s a student witnessed a girl in a ’60s haircut waving at him from a Denbo window. A 2012 article by the school’s newspaper, The Vermilion, reports the girl’s name as Lily and with the accident happening within an “out-of-commission elevator” in Harris Hall. “As the story has it,” the article attests, “the elevator fell on her and decapitated her. Since the incident, the elevator has been sealed and closed off behind a steel door.”
The ghost story of the old Baker dormitory concerns a female student who committed suicide in the 1950s. A student moved into the woman’s dorm room and took her life a year to the day, or so the story goes. Because of the eerie circumstances, it’s believed administrators sealed off the room. Baker, along with Huger Hall, has been torn down and replaced by lovely new dormitories, but some students still find them spooky. One Baker resident reported what sounded like someone clawing at the wall in her suitemate’s bathroom. When she opened the door, no one was there.
Mary Jane’s Bridge
Drive near the suburb of Broussard along Bayou Tortue Road (Parish Road 140), and you’ll find a bridge that’s the delight and fear of many local teenagers. It’s here that a young girl named Mary Jane refused the advances of her drunk date. In retaliation, he struck her with a whiskey bottle and threw her into the bayou below. Called “Mary Jane’s Bridge,” locals claim the young woman haunts the bridge in a long white dress.
Is this a true tale, since the body supposedly was never found? Or a teenage prank to scare one another? The story goes that if you travel the bridge at midnight, turn off the car’s ignition and say, “Mary, Mary, Mary.” The car will not start until you push it off the bridge and out of the power of the deceased Mary.
La Maison Begnaud
The nearby town of Scott welcomes visitors at a historic home once belonging to the Begnaud family. The Acadian-style home was donated to the city for use as a tourist information center by the descendants of Joseph Begnaud, and the house moved to its current location.
However, Joseph may still be living there.
People working in the house have witnessed appliances going on and off, DVDs flying off the shelf, and the doorbell continually ringing without anyone on the porch. One employee has seen three ethereal people — a woman, a child, and a man who enjoys the porch rocking chairs.
Maybe it’s a sibling haunting the welcome center. Joseph Begnaud’s brother, Martin, was brutally murdered in 1896 by two French brothers working a nearby plantation. The murder received national attention, and both Martin’s funeral and the hanging of the Blanc brother were attended by hundreds.
Who’d want to haunt a radio station, you ask? But at the KBON station in Eunice, where Cajun, swamp pop and zydeco music fill the airwaves, deejays believe they are not alone, even if they physically are.
Employees have felt people lingering beside them, lights have turned on by themselves. Some workers and visiting paranormal experts and mediums have seen actual apparitions or picked up electronic voice phenomena (EVPS). Some believe it’s a woman named Alice dressed in white. Another deejay spotted a man in blue coveralls in the front office. Deejay Layton Thibodeaux witnessed a tall, skinny man with white hair in the reflection of the TV, but when he turned, there was no one there. And then there’s the knocking that comes in threes.
KBON owner Paul Marx wrote about the ghosts in his memoir, “Variety with a Louisiana Flavor.” When he purchased the building in 1996, he worked long hours getting the station up and running. Alone at night, he would hear voices, sounding like a male and female having a conversation. Others have heard them too.
Who haunts the station? Theories have included previous owners or perhaps items donated to the station that came with a loved one. Maybe it’s the souls of Louisiana musicians who come to enjoy the music.
Don’t take our word for it. Check out the YouTube video above where a shadow figure crosses the KBON hallway.
Nash’s Restaurant in Broussard serves up excellent Creole dishes in a Victorian house that dates back to 1908. A gorgeous wraparound porch features tables for diners, and the interior includes a grand staircase and fireplaces.
In the hallway hangs a portrait of Edmund Joseph Comeaux II, a child of the first owners who is believed to have died in the home from a fever when he was only four years old. Some believe young Edmund still hangs around his former home, moving items about and turning on hand dryers in the women’s restroom. He’s harmless, a waitress once told us, just playful and mischievous.
While you’re enjoying a fine dining meal at Nash’s or a craft cocktail at the bar, listen carefully. You might hear young Edmund running up and down the hallway.
Myths and Legends
There are many myths, haunted tales, and legends in Acadiana, some so scary they will turn your toes. Or fingers, as it were.
If children don’t behave, parents warn them that Madame Grand Doigt will visit in the night. Madame Long Fingers, in English, visits children after bedtime, sliding her long nails into door locks, so she has access to their naughty beings.
Other French monsters include Une Grosse Betaille, a frightening animal or a bestial man of large proportions and the tataille, or Tai Tai, other members of the boogie man family.
One of the most common South Louisiana monsters haunting our swamps is Le Loup Garou, a shapeshifter who dances in the moonlight on St. John’s Eve.
Just don’t follow those glowing swamp lights, known as Le Feu Follet. They lure people deep into the wetlands so they lose their way, never to be seen again.