New Orleans‘ rich history made for the perfect setting for season three of American Horror Story, Coven. From Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau to deranged mass murderer Delphine LaLaurie, these figures weren’t just characters in a TV show – they were real people who lived out their days in The Big Easy and left their mark on the city forever.
Now, AHS did take a few artistic liberties. For example, Laveau and LaLaurie weren’t sworn enemies; in fact, they weren’t even alive during the same time period. But AHS also got some things right, in addition to crafting Gris-Gris bags for healing and good luck, Marie Laveau really was a hairdresser and Delphine LaLaurie was indeed as dark and sinister as portrayed.
If you find yourself in NOLA and want to do some Coven-inspired sight-seeing, here are a few stops you won’t want to miss.
Marie Laveau’s Tomb
Nestled in the famed St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, you’ll need to join a tour group to experience this piece of living history as it’s closely monitored by the archdioceses of New Orleans Catholic Cemeteries. Now you might be wondering, what is the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans doing buried in a Catholic cemetery? A great question and you might be surprised to find that Marie Laveau was a devout Catholic all her life who did not find it unusual to incorporate traditional voodoo rituals into her spiritual practice. Laveau became an important religious leader in the area as she led weekly ceremonial meetings and worked closely with individual clients in addition to performing acts of community service.
Referred to by many as the “Cruel Mistress of the Haunted House,” Delphine LaLaurie and her home on Royal Street will forever go down in history as of one of New Orleans’ most disturbing discoveries. Part of a wealthy and politically powerful family, Delphine was married three times and had always owned slaves. It wasn’t until she and her husband Louis LaLaurie began having martial disputes that she was rumored to have gone mad, and then came the fire of 1834.
On April 10, 1834, a large fire consumed the LaLaurie Mansion in the midst of a lavish dinner party, revealing seven slaves who were tortured, chained and starved on the third floor of the building. The slaves had suffered inhumane graphic experiments; most of which are not fit for print. Appalled by the horrors within the LaLaurie Mansion, townspeople gathered and rioted in a rage, destroying and looting the home until it was nearly demolished. And what of Delphine? Amidst the chaos, Delphine LaLaurie managed to escape and is rumored to have lived out the rest of her days in Europe, never paying for her sins.
Considering that the LaLaurie Mansion is thought to be cursed, it was probably in everyone’s best interest that the scenes depicting the home were filmed off-site at the Hermann-Grima House. A well-preserved and restored 19th-century home, the Hermann-Girma House was home to many generations of families before becoming the popular St. Louis Street tourist spot that it is today.
Also known as Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies, the Buckner Mansion acted as the beloved Coven house of season three. This must-see residence is located in New Orleans’ stunning garden district among lush greenery and historic homes.
Built in 1856, the Buckner Mansion was once owned by Henry Sullivan Buckner, a cotton boss of the Mississippi. The home features a unique cast-iron fence, 48 fluted columns and three ballrooms. Since this is spooky New Orleans, it’s also worth mentioning that the mansion is rumored to be haunted by the ghost of Miss Josephine, a slave from Civil War times. Miss Josephine is a friendly ghost and people have reported sounds of her sweeping the stairs followed by the scent of fresh lemon in the foyer.