|Opelousas Museum and Interpretive Center|
Living history roams the Opelousas Museum and Interpretive Center, walking among the Clifton Chenier zydeco records, Civil War relics and around the barbershop chair where Clyde Barrow of Bonnie and Clyde fame got his last haircut. There are specters who refuse to leave the 1935 building, whose incarnations included the Sibille’s Funeral Home, a church and the Opelousas Library.
Director Delores Guillory had no idea of the building’s history when she first started working at the Opelousas Museum. Her first clue came when she was alone in the building, sitting at her desk inside the office.
“The front door opened and it closed,” Guillory said. “I looked over and nobody came. I looked at the door and there was no one.”
Guillory even went so far as to check the outside porch and sidewalk and both were empty. When her supervisor returned, she recalled the story. To her surprise, the supervisor laughed.
“That’s when she told me about it once being a funeral home,” Guillory said.
Other events followed, including hearing startling noises like something falling from the wall. Once a loud noise emanated from the Civil War room and Guillory smelled cigarettes after investigating.
Another time she was sitting in the hallway when the back door opened and closed. At first she chalked it up to the security guard who liked to tease her about the ghosts, but when she called him up on the phone, he was the park.
“I said okay, that was our ghost again.”
|The Civil War Room|
Others have experienced sightings as well. One employee spotted something white and whispy moving across her line of sight by the Civil War Room.
“All of sudden something went across cold cold and she smelled perfume,” Guillory explained. “We told her about the ghosts. The next day she quit.”
A worker performing community service at the museum halted at the mannequin in the Mardi Gras display, a man bedecked in a long mink and velvet robe. The elaborate robe was created for Nolan Simmons, who reigned as King Orme XLVIII in the 1994 Carnival season in Opelousas. Today, it adorns the mannequin inside a glass case, with a mirror behind so visitors can view all sides.
“She said I have to get out of here,” Guillory related of the woman’s experience at the mannequin. “She said there’s a bad vibe in here.”
Some people halt at the front door, feeling the paranormal vibe and refusing to set foot inside, Guillory said.
Louisiana Spirits paranormal investigators spent an evening in the museum and heard unusual sounds they couldn’t account for, but they did debunk the mystery of the moving dolls in the display cases. The dolls were not laying flat within the cases so footsteps in the hall caused the cabinets to shake and move, said Jennifer Broussard of Louisiana Spirits. Investigator Charles Gardner managed to get one doll to turn completely as he walked in the hallway, he said.
This story was an excerpt from "Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana" by Cheré Coen, published by The History Press.