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Jean Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop Bar: A haunted restaurant in New Orleans

Jean Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar is actually the oldest pub in the country. A New Orleans brick en poste building dating from around 1722, the pub is one of the three oldest buildings in New Orleans and houses many lingering spirits from that early period to the modern day.

Spirits love spirits, and I refer to this establishment as the “ghost watering hole.”

Some still arrive on horseback, others just pop in and out, and a few seem to reside permanently.

Master Jean Lafitte, buccaneer of high seas and low bayous, appears with pirate hat and is seen side by side with some of his cohorts from days of old. But those aren’t the only ghosts here—generations of happy customers who have passed on in flesh still frequent his pub.

Once a place to move contraband for the Lafittes, the building was a real blacksmith shop and also served as a front for the gentleman pirate. Much booty has made its way through here, and some say treasure is still hidden within.

The first time in this lifetime that I entered Lafitte’s, I was compelled to stare into the dual smithy (now turned fireplace). Staring back at me from the center was a pair of eyes—free floating, with no face to be seen. My eyes and his were locked in a trance for some time until the eyes simply poofed into two bursts of flame and disappeared.

That, of course, broke my trance, and when I bent down again to recheck the scene, nothing was to be seen. I checked for mirrors, candles, and such mundane things that might explain what I saw, but I found none. Shrugging my shoulders, I simply decided it was a sign of welcome. I was indeed welcomed by those who run the bar and those who may sometimes remain unseen.

After this encounter, I began to feverishly research pirates, treasure, Jean Lafitte, and such to find the meaning of my visitation.

The common consensus was that when a pirate buries a treasure, he kills someone on the spot, and thus turns that person’s spirit into a ghost slave to guard the treasure so no one can tamper with it besides the one who placed it there to begin with.

The trouble is that Jean Lafitte is dead, but his spirit was not released from his guard duty. The only way that Jean Lafitte can be released from the curse is when someone of noble heart finds the treasure that was bought with blood and puts it to good use.

The way that Jean tries to help those few he finds with a heart of gold is by pointing his long and bony finger and showing eyes that burst into flame and drip with blood.

I researched this information for years after I saw those eyes. Some research indicates that whatever treasure was left behind is indeed within the fireplace.

There is one account of fear related by one of the bartenders who was working in the building late one rainy night. The bartender was alone, and a short, stout man walked out of the fireplace, walked to the end of the bar, and simply disappeared.

Most of the ghosts here are less ominous and are just there like the rest of the patrons. Here they wander in and out, enjoy a brew, and mingle with the humans the way they used to do.

—Bloody Mary Mystic, medium, paranormal investigator, Bloody Mary’s Tours

Jean Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop and Bar
941 Bourban Street
New Orleans, Louisiana 70116
Tel: (504) 523-0066

Reprinted, with permission of the publisher, from *ENCYCLOPEDIA OF HAUNTED PLACES, REVISED AND EXPANDED EDITION (c) 2010 Jeff Belanger. Published by New Page Books a division of Career Press, Franklin Lakes, NJ. 800-227-3371. All rights reserved.

Photo: Jean Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop Bar

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Updated: August 7, 2016

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