Gallier House and American Horror Story: Coven

The Gallier Historic House rose to fame (once again) when it was discovered that the property was used for the exterior shots of Lalaurie Mansion in American Horror Story: Coven. AHS Coven is the third season of the popular anthology television series American Horror Story and revolves around the fictitious story of a coven of witches who escaped the Salem witch trials to a special witch training school in New Orleans. The series also featured Madame Delphine LaLaurie, a real-life New Orleans-based socialite in the early 19th century who was notoriously known for torturing her slaves.

Gallier Historic House was chosen as the filming location for the facade of Lalaurie Mansion due to its proximity to the site as well as the fact that Lalaurie Mansion is a private property and is closed off to the public. Gallier Historic House sits just adjacent to Lalaurie Mansion; it is also a mere four minute walk from Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, another popular tourist attraction in the French Quarters.

Gallier Historic House was featured in the first few shots of the first episode of AHS Coven. In particular, during the opening scene of episode one, one of the four witches, Nan, can be seen crossing the street to Gallier Historic House, which is depicted as Lalaurie Mansion in the series. In episode two, Fiona and Delphine, were sitting just outside the Gallier House after the former was released from the underground prison.

On the other hand, most of the interior shots of Lalaurie Mansion in the series was filmed in the Hermann-Grima House, the sister house of Gallier Historic House. Both are jointly managed by The Woman’s Exchange and are available for public tours.

History of Gallier Historic House

The history of Gallier House dates back to 1857 when it was commissioned by James Gallier Jr., a prominent New Orleans architect. Gallier was one of the city’s most prominent and important architect in the 19th century, and was known for being the principal architect behind several notable buildings including the Luling Mansion, the Preservation Resource Center, and the French Opera House which was destroyed in a fire in 1919.

Gallier Historic House | Image credits: Hermann-Grima + Gallier Historic Houses official Facebook page

The historic Gallier House was constructed on a piece of land along Royal Street in the French Quarter of New Orleans. After three years of construction, Gallier Jr. and his family—his wife Josephine Aglaé Villavaso, and their four daughters, Elizabeth Leonie, Josephine Blanche, Francoise Josephine and Jeanne Clemence—took up residence in the Gallier House.

At its time, the property included a courtyard garden, a carriageway, and a living quarter for slaves purchased by Gallier. The house included several state-of-the-art amenities such as indoor plumbing with hot and cold water, flush toilet, and double skylight.

In 1868, eight years after moving into the Gallier house, Gallier Jr. passed away in the building from yellow fever. The house remained in the hands of the Gallier family until 1917 when it was sold to a local merchant. In the 1960s, the historic house was purchased by the Mr. and Mrs. Richard Freeman Jr. and owned under the non-profit Ella West Freeman Foundation. After a massive restoration project by local preservation architecture firm Koch and Wilson Architects, the historic Gallier House opened to the public as a museum in 1971. The historical significance and exquisite Victorian furnishing of Gallier House led to its successful nomination and declaration as a National Historic Landmark in 1974.

Dining room in the Gallier House | Image credits: The French Quarter Museum Association

The Ella West Freeman Foundation donated the property to Tulane University in 1986. A decade later, the house changed hands once again, this time to The Woman’s Exchange (formerly known as The Christian Woman’s Exchange). Today, The Woman’s Exchange runs both Gallier Historic House and the Hermanna-Grima House, giving visitors of the French Quarters a glimpse into the heydays of 19th century New Orleans.

Is Gallier House Haunted?

In spite of its association to the haunted LaLaurie Mansion, the Gallier House is not haunted by any paranormal entities.

Gallier House has long been associated with the paranormal due to its proximity to the Lalaurie Mansion, which sits just one house away on the right of the latter. Furthermore, LaLaurie Mansion, along with Gallier Historic House, was one of several stops for local ghost haunting and paranormal tours, leading tourists to believe that both properties are haunted by its former residents.

However, this is largely untrue as there were no reports of haunted activities by staffs of the Gallier Historic House.

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