The Sultan’s Palace on 715 Dauphine Street in New Orleans, Louisiana, is also known by other names: The Gardette-LePrete House, the House of the Turks, and, of course, the Sultan’s House. The building in the French Quarter looks much like other mansions and structures there. So, it’s easy to chalk it up to another old building that adds charm to New Orleans—until you hear the rumors.
Joseph Coulton Gardette, a dentist from Philadelphia, built the house on Dauphine Street in 1836. In 1839 he sold the house to a wealthy plantation owner named Jean Baptiste LaPrete. LaPrete used the residence as a second home to spend the cooler months when he could afford to leave the plantation. During the Civil War, LaPrete fell on hard times and rented the house to supplement his income.
Prince Suleyman, a Turkish man who claimed to be a sultan of a middle eastern country, rented the property from LaPrete.
Suleyman moved in, installed new locks on all of the doors, blocked the windows, and completely redecorated the house. Suleyman moved several women, family members, children, and servants into the new home. Turkish guards patrolled the house regularly, and no one was allowed on the property without Suleyman’s approval.
Suleyman threw extravagant parties that filled the house with music, dancing, and incense, and some say opium. So much incense that neighbors said the scent filled the neighborhood. The frivolities went on for a while.
Then, a neighbor passing by one morning noticed that the house seemed unusually quiet. No guards patrolled the house, and the front gate, always locked, stood open. Curious, the neighbor went through the gate and saw blood oozing from underneath the front door, dripping down the stairs and filling the uneven stones of the walkway.
The neighbor went to the police. They reportedly found body parts scattered around the house. Blood saturated the floors. No one in the house survived. Women, children, servants, and even the guards had all been slaughtered, beheaded, and dismembered. The Sultan was not among the dead.
His absence was a mystery. Then, something in the courtyard caught the eye of one of the policemen. It was a hand straining toward the sky from beneath the dirt. It was the Sultan, and he had been buried alive.
No one ever identified the killers, but there were a lot of speculations. Some blamed pirates, but the murders didn’t fit the pirate Modus Operandi. After further investigation, it was discovered that Prince Suleyman wasn’t a sultan himself but the brother of one. It seems Suleyman had stolen from his brother and then fled the country to start a new life. His brother tracked him down and executed him, along with everyone else in the house.
It is also worth note that the murders supposedly committed on Daphne Street cannot be verified. There is nothing in old newspapers. The only confirmation is the legend handed down over the last almost 200 years.
Regardless of the murders occurring or not, several people report hauntings.
One owner of the Gardette-Le Pretre House, now a collection of apartments, admitted that odd happenings occur in the building, like keys that disappear only to reappear later. People continue to report the smell of exotic incense on the street outside the building. Tenants claim to have seen the spirit of the Sultan himself, dressed in robes and a turban, standing at the foot of their beds. Many blame vengeful ghosts for the falling death of a woman hanging laundry on an upper-floor balcony. People report seeing the veiled faces of the slain members of the harem peering mournfully out of upstairs windows. Ghosts of the Sultan’s entourage are said to move about the building, and the sounds of footsteps are heard running about in panic or climbing upstairs.
And then there are the screams. Specifically, cries in the middle of the night possibly lending credence to the night of horror in the Sultan’s Palace.
Further, In 1979, Frank D’Amico’s wife lived in the penthouse of the building on the upper floor. As she described the event, Mrs. D’Amico climbed into bed and almost immediately witnessed a dark figure standing at the foot of her bed. It approached her, gliding over the floor. She panicked (I would, too.) and scrambled to turn on the lamp sitting on her bedside table. The lights lit up all of the dark corners of her bedroom. No one was there. The dark figure vanished as quickly as it appeared.
One resident of 716 Dauphine reports going down the stairs to do laundry and watching his dog shoved down the flight of stairs by an unseen force. He says his dog also refuses to enter the living room unless brought inside by himself. Animals reportedly have a sixth sense in sniffing out ghosts and spirits, and it seems that this dog certainly knows that something isn’t quite right about the former Sultan’s Palace.
According to historians and paranormal enthusiasts like James Caskey, there seem to be two main ghosts haunting the Sultan’s Palace, and it’s unlikely that either one is a result of the purported bloodbath of 1836. The first is that of a Confederate Soldier, who still haunts the house in his military uniform. The second is the spirit of a woman, who probably lived in the house at some point in time. (Maybe the one who fell while hanging her laundry out to dry?)
The ghost of the Confederate soldier remains both mysterious and interesting. No Civil War battles were fought in the local area of New Orleans; it may seem strange, then, that the so-called Sultan’s Palace is haunted by one.
The “Sultan’s Palace” is a private residence, and you cannot go inside. There are, however, several ghost tours around New Orleans that will pass by the area, tell you the chilling story, and give you even more information about who may be haunting the Sultan’s Palace.
Until next time,
Sources: https://www.onlyinyourstate.com/louisiana/new-orleans/sultan-house-nola/; https://nola.verylocal.com/haunted-nola-slaughter-at-the-sultans-french-quarter-palace-gardette-lepretre-house/144756/; https://ghostcitytours.com/new-orleans/haunted-places/sultans-palace/