With legends recounting tales of cruelty, tragedy, murder and the restless dead, this once magnificent building saw many visitors and thrill seekers, until it was destroyed by fire, in November 2013.
Since it is the original ghost story that seems to have everything else stem from it, ghosts and hauntings it is.
The LeBeau plantation house was one of Arabi, Louisiana's, lesser known, but greatest treasures. It was the last, unrestored, antebellum (pre American Civil War) plantation mansion within the metropolitan area. Mostly ruined and run down, plans were underway to restore it to its former glory until fire left it a complete ruin.
The story of settlement on the land LeBeau House stood goes back to the 1720's, when the first grants were handed out. For a good hundred years it was the site of many different plantations until the land was sold and used as a brickyard.
In 1851, Franciouse Bathelemy LeBeau purchased the land and started construction of his plantation and mansion. It was built brick between post style, had sixteen main rooms and a central hall. At one stage there were a number of internal staircases that led to the upper floor, but with a new tax coming in, one where a home owner was taxed per internal staircase, LeBeau had all but one ripped out.
Unfortunately, tragedy struck. Franciouse LeBeau did not get to enjoy his new home for long as he died in 1854, shortly after construction was completed.
The plantation and home stayed within the LeBeau family for another fifty years until they sold it. The reason for the sale was probably financially motivated, but legends have sprung up about the LeBeau's use of the land and their slaves causing the families downfall.
Legend has it that the LeBeau's were very cruel to their slaves, that they would often beat them severely for the slightest infraction. At times these beatings would result in the death, and it was the slaves friends, families and co-workers that would be responsible for taking the body out to the fields to be buried – no ceremony, no rites, nothing marking the person’s passing.
The legend goes on to say that it was the slaves who would drive the LeBeau's off their land, the twist being not the living slaves through some revolt, but rather, the dead ones. These embittered souls would make their way back to the LeBeau's and torment them, driving them to insanity and, legend has it, two of the LeBeau's took their own lives, hanging themselves, up on the second floor.
At this point in time it went from a legitimate venture into one more akin to a seedy underground. As the Cordone Hotel it was a place of illegal gambling. Large amounts of illegally gained coin changed hands, and with it, no doubt, more than a little trouble. The closets in the main rooms were armoured and had vision and gun slits so the owners could protect their business. It would no doubt have been a fairly dangerous location, with a wrong move against the establishment seeing you bruised or worse...
After the Cordone Hotel closed its doors the house and land changed hands many times until 1967 when Joseph Meraux took ownership and the building began its steady decline.
In 1986 a fire went through much of the interior of the house, and it has been unoccupied ever since. It stood alone out amongst the land that was once the fields populated by work groups of slaves. The house began to crumble, and although stabilisation work was completed in 2003, it was still a shadow of its former glory.
However, more and more people began to take an interest in the house. School groups would tour past it and learn how life was lived back in the 1800's. People would learn of the history and the hauntings. Haunted and dark history is always a good drawcard for people who might not otherwise take an interest, and such an interest saw that there was in fact a need to have this place properly protected and restored. Plans were underway to gather the several million dollars needed for a full restoration, but in November 2013, tragedy struck.
One Final Tragedy
There were also reports of strange white shapes seen about the property, solemnly walking as if a heavy burden were placed upon them. And the shadow figures seen flitting across the landscape, making a not-all-too-direct route to the house, but never making it there, disappearing within feet of the walls.
Many people would journey to the house to see if they themselves could witness these events, mostly a good thrill or scare. Of course the ghosts would not always be present, so some people would attempt to draw them out.
The fire soon took hold in the ancient dry wood of the structure and it burned, completely destroying it. All that stands now are four chimneys and the foundation - the final tragedy in this history.