Located along Ursulines Avenue lies Hotel Villa Convento, a two-hundred-year-old Creolo townhouse that is now one of top ten most haunted places in the French Quarters.
The hotel is said to be haunted by a former madame who had served men in the building when it was a brothel. Couples spending the night in the hotel have frequently heard knocks on the door along with a soft whisper saying “time is up”.
Unsurprisingly, the apparition is known to manifest in the presence of men. Many male guests staying at Hotel Villa Convento alone have reported seeing the ghost of a woman dressed in black staring at them before disappearing into thin air.
While paranormal activities have been experienced throughout the hotel, several of the rooms are known to be particularly haunted. Over at Room 305, the Jimmy Buffet room, guests have reported doors slamming shut and personal belonging being moved. In one incident, hotel staff Emily was conducting a routine maintenance on the hotel rooms located on the third floor. As soon as Emily stepped into Room 305, the television set turned on by itself. It did not take long before an eerie feeling began to creep up on her. Adamant that someone “not from this world” was watching her, Emily sped through the maintenance checklist and fled the room, vowing to never return to Room 305.
Over at Room 302, a resident ghost is said to linger in the room, taunting any guests who dare spend the night at Hotel Villa Convento. Many who spent the night at Room 302 reported being shaken awake by the bed. The bedside lamps are also said to turn on and off at will, as if someone was playing a foolish prank on the already frightened guests.
However, the most haunted room in the entire building is none other than Room 209. Legend has it that back when the site was still a rooming home, a man committed suicide in Room 209. While little is known about the man or the reason behind his actions, he has become the longest staying guest in Hotel Villa Convento. On numerous occasions, guests staying in Room 209 have seen the ghostly manifestation of a scrungy man in a white shirt and baggy pants. Similar to the paranormal happenings in Jimmy Buffet Room, personal belongings of guests in Room 209 were often being moved around, with some reporting that their clothes were left strewn across the bed as if they were rummaged.
The haunted experiences of hotel guests who have stayed at Hotel Villa Convento make it certain that the historic hotel is plagued by former residents who have stayed on after their deaths.
History of Hotel Villa Convento
The Villa Convento Hotel is a historic hotel located on New Orleans’ Ursulines Avenue. The history of it dates back to the 18th century when the land was owned by the Ursuline nuns. The Ursuline sisters were a group of nuns dispatched by King Louis XV of France to New Orleans to help develop the newly found city. Through the development of several infrastructures such as a boarding school, music school, and orphanage, the Ursuline sisters were able to provide essential social services for citizens of the Louisiana colony.
In 1819, due to financial and political reasons, plots of land owned by the Ursuline nuns was sold off. The land where Hotel Villa Convento is today was sold to Arnaud Magon in 1819 and later Jean Baptiste Poeyfarre in 1833. Together with Jean’s second wife Louise, the couple built the iconic structure we see today. The three-story townhouse was built in a French Creolo architecture but featured elements of Greek Revival including unadorned friezes and white pilaster (ornamental square columns) at the front door.
In 1846, a year after Louise passing, the house was transferred to Citizens Bank of Louisiana who auctioned it off to Paul Desdunes Poincy, the father of renown New Orleans painter Paul E. Poincy. It was later sold to New Orleans merchant Octave Voorheis in 1853.
After the American Civil War (April 12, 1861 – May 9, 1865), the townhouse was purportedly converted into a brothel to maintain the upkeep of the property. While there was no concrete evidence to validate the claim, the building is said known to be the inspiration behind the infamous “House of the Rising Sun”
In 1902, the property was purchased by Pasquale Taromina. The Taromina family lived in the beautiful Creole townhouse for 44 years till 1946 when it became “Old Town Villa”,a rooming house transients and aspiring musicians. One of the most notable guests who have stayed in Old Town Villa was singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett. The room which he has stayed in, Room 305, is now unofficially called “The Jimmy Buffett” roo.
In September of 1981, the townhouse was sold to the Campo family and converted into a hotel now known as Hotel Villa Convento. At present, the 25-bed hotel continues to serve tourists of New Orleans just as it was four decades ago.