The Hotel Monteleone Of The New Orleans French Quarter
Entrance of the Hotel Monteleone, New Orleans, during Tales of the Cocktail" 2011. Source: (Wikimedia Commons)
Often hailed as the most haunted city in the United States, New Orleans is home to a number of locations reputed to house the undead. Among those locations is the Hotel Monteleone. At more than one hundred and thirty years old, the Hotel Monteleone has a long history, which includes visits from a number of renowned literary patrons. As to the rumors of it being haunted, the details are vague but a quick search on TripAdvisor will reveal quite a few guests who claim to have been visited or, in some cases, pranked by the hotel’s resident ghosts.
The hotel is a part of the New Orleans French Quarter, which ironically consists of more Spanish than French architecture due to the fires of 1788 and 1794 during which time New Orleans was under Spanish control. The ethnic composition of the French Quarter shifted again after the Civil War when Italian families began to settle in New Orleans. By the 1890s, the Italian community dominated the area and many businesses of the French Quarter were owned by Italian-American businessmen by this time. One of those businesses was the Hotel Monteleone.
When he arrived in New Orleans in 1880, Antonio Monteleone was a Sicilian shoemaker. His first business in the French Quarter was a cobbler shop which he opened on Rue Royale. The success of this shop allowed him to make a larger investment in 1886 so he decided to buy a small hotel at the corner of Rue Iberville and Rue Royale. Shortly afterward, he also purchased the Commercial Hotel next door, which allowed him to expand. The Commercial Hotel was expanded again in 1903 with the addition of thirty rooms. In 1908, he expanded again, this time adding three hundred rooms, and changed the property name to Hotel Monteleone.
In 1913, Antonio Monteleone died and his son, Frank, took over the business. Frank expanded the hotel by another two hundred rooms in 1928 and managed to keep the business afloat during both the Great Depression and World War II. In 1954, the original building was torn down and the hotel was rebuilt. After Frank’s death in 1958, the hotel was taken over by his son, Bill, who added more floors, a swimming pool, and a Sky Terrace. The hotel is currently owned by William Monteleone Jr, who took over after his father, Bill, died in 2011.
Currently, Hotel Monteleone has six hundred rooms, including fifty-five suites as well as a collection of “Author’s Suites” which are dedicated to the many writers who visited the hotel. It also has several restaurants, including Le Cafe, the Aft-Deck Oyster Bar and Restaurant, and the Hunt Room Grill. One of the hotel’s most popular attractions is the Carousel Piano Bar and Lounge, which actually revolves, completing one revolution every fifteen minutes.
Throughout its long history, Hotel Monteleone has been frequented by a number of famous authors, beginning with Sherwood Anderson in 1921. Truman Capote used to claim he was born at the hotel in 1924. While it is true that his mother was a guest of the hotel at the time, Capote was actually born at a nearby hospital. William Faulkner and Tennessee Williams were both guests of the hotel in 1951. Faulkner was in town because he was being honored with the Legion d’Honneur from the French Republic. Both Tennessee Williams and Richard Ford mention the hotel in their writings. Other literary visitors include Ben Lucien, Eudora Welty, and Winston Groom.
But for many tourists, it is the hotel’s otherworldly visitors which provide the greatest draw. Various ghost hunters have visited the hotel with camera crews in the hopes of documenting the hauntings. The hotel has been featured on television programs, including a show called “Weird Travels” on the Travel Channel. The hotel is rumored to be haunted by an engineer nicknamed “Red,” a guest named William Wildemer who allegedly died in the hotel, a playful little boy, and many others. Guests claim to have seen the ghost of the grandfather clock’s maker working on the clock and jazz singers in the hallways at night. Other unexplained occurrences include the elevator random stopping at the fourteenth floor, which is technically the thirteenth floor, and various pranks like silverware being knocked to the floor, allegedly by former staff members who never left the hotel. Of course, for every hotel review claiming to have experienced paranormal activity, there are many more which saw no such hauntings.
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