The history of the site dates back to 1793 when an orphanage was built. During the days when disease was rampant, many children were left abandoned in the streets. To ‘clean’ up the streets, the Spanish colonial government commissioned the building of a boarding school at 919 Royal Street to house the orphans. However, the 1794 Great New Orleans Fire destroyed the school and over 200 buildings in the French Quarters. Five boys were rumored to have perished in the tragic fire after getting trapped in the building by a fallen structure.
Soon after, the U.S. Federal Courthouse was built on the very same spot where the orphanage once stood. The courthouse was famously known for the fining of then-General Andrew Jackson for contempt of court in 1815.
Andrew Jackson was a frontier lawyer who became the colonel of the Tennessee militia in 1801. In December 1814, Jackson arrived in New Orleans to prepare the city for a possible invasion by the British armed forces. Jackson forified the city’s defences, hired military units, and formed alliances with local smugglers and volunteers. Martial law was also declared in New Orleans, preventing anyone from entering or leaving the city. During the Battle of New Orleans on January 8, 1815, General Jackson and his 5,000 men defeated the 10,000-men strong British Army led by Major General Sir Edward Pakenham; the Americans suffered approximately 70 causalities while over 2,000 British soldiers were injured or killed during the battle.
However, following the win against the British, Jackson refused to lift the martial law imposed on the city. When local senator Louis Louaillier expressed his opinion against the order, Jackson had him imprisoned. Shortly after, Judge Hall called for the release of senator Louaillier, enraging Jackson. Unsurprisingly, Jackson ordered for the arrest of Judge Hall for obstructing justice. All prisoners held by Jackson was only released after the end of martial law.
Judge Hall returned to the courthouse and promptly called for General Jackson. A brief trial was held and Jackson was charged with the contempt of court, to which a $1,000 fine was slapped to him. The case rattled the city of New Orleans, as many had supported General Jackson and believed that his actions were justified. Nonetheless, General Jackson was a national hero for winning the Battle of New Orleans and went on to become the seventh president of the United States (March 4, 1829 – March 4, 1837).
The courthouse continued to uphold the law for the next century. In 1890, the courthouse was demolished and a two-storey hotel was built. The hotel was was aptly named Andrew Jackson Hotel in recognition of the famous incident in 1815. The hotel was listed into the National Register of Historic Places in 1965 for its historic significance and association to President Andrew Jackson.
As of January 2022, the 21-room Bed & Breakfast continues to operate in the French Quarters, giving visitors an opportunity to stay in the historic hotel named after one of the greatest leaders in American history.
Hauntings at Andrew Jackson Hotel
Today, Andrew Jackson Hotel is widely reputated to be one of the most haunted hotels in the French Quarters and the city of New Orleans.
Guests of the hotel believe that the place is haunted by a young boy named Armand, one of the five boys who did not survive the fire in 1794. Other sources suggest that he had chosen to end his life by jumping from the balcony on room 208. As such, room 208 is notorious for its paranormal events. Apart from waking up guests with his laughters, Armand is known to have shoved hotel guests out of their bed before giggling at his foolish antics and fading into the walls. Others report being shaken awake by an extremely cold pair of hands, as well as experiencing an eerie, unexplainable feel. Many who have checked in to room 208 would end up scrambling down the stairs to the front desk in hopes of switching rooms.
Another ghost that haunts the hotel is a former housekeeper who have stayed on long after her passing. She is known to rearrange furnitures in the rooms and reorganize the personal belongings of hotel guests, causing countless arguments between guests and staffs of the hotel.
Some guests have also claimed to have seen young boys playing in the courtyard in the middle of the night. However, it cannot be confirmed if the boys were actual guests or apparitions of the orphans who passed away during the Great New Orleans Fire.
The most popular spirit that lingers around the hotel is none other than General Andrew Jackson. He is also known to patrol the lobby and hallways, seemingly to ensure that everything is “ready for war”. In particular, several guests claimed to have seen the spirit of a white-haired man roaming along the courtyard and the second floor of the hotel.