Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Shreveport's Logan Mansion and other haunted sites

            I’ve been to some of the most haunted properties in Shreveport and had some interesting experiences during Shreveport’s inaugural Paranormal Festival in 2013. For instance, I joined paranormal investigators at the Spring Street Museum, the oldest building in Shreveport and once the site of the precursor to First National Bank. The bank’s founder Edward Jacobs, originally Ephraim Jacobi, arrived in Shreveport with his brother Benjamin from Pomerania in 1844. Both were of Jewish heritage but changed their names and married non-Jewish women.
Spring Street Museum basement
            We used a “ghost box” on the top floor, a device that captures white noise and radio frequencies. After nothing but static for several minutes, we asked for a name and immediately received “Edward.” Other comments on the box were the number “six” when we asked how many we were (we were six). In the basement, we saw shadow movement, heard a boy’s voice on the ghost box and a flashlight turned on by itself.
Logan Mansion
            Then five loud knocks happened on the cellar door. We opened the door, located at the top of a set of stairs, and asked why those on the first floor had knocked. Those on the first floor replied, “We heard it too, were wondering why you were knocking.”
            We also visited the Logan Mansion, located at 725 Austin Place not far from historic Oakland Cemetery and the Municipal Auditorium, once home to the radio show, Louisiana Hayride, of which one of its performers, a Mississippi native named Elvis, became famous.
            The Victorian-style Logan house was built in 1897 and has been lovingly restored by current owner Vicki Lebrun, who has been living there for years. The story as to who is haunting the Logan Mansion may be a young girl who fell out of the third-story window.
Logan Mansion
            When I visited the Logan during the paranormal tour — Lebrun had been gracious and was allowing people to tour in small groups during the day — there was only three of us following Lebrun through the mansion. As we paused in the kitchen for her to explain odd happenings within its wall someone spoke loudly behind us, “Hey!” We all turned around — it was that loud — but no one was there. Lebrun said it may have been her cell phone but we weren’t convinced; the voice had been loud enough, right behind where we stood, that all three of us jerked around.
            But don’t take our word for it. Visit the Logan Mansion and see for yourself. The Logan Mansion will host haunted candlelight tours on Halloween night, which is Friday, Oct. 31, 2014. Guided tours exploring the house will begin every 20 minutes from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Admission is $10 and tours last approximately one hour; reservations not required.
            At the Halloween tour, guests will see all 17 rooms of the mansion as well as the 2,000-square-foot attic, hearing ghost stories along the way.
Logan's third floor
            “This isn’t a staged tour, there aren’t people jumping out at you or anything like that,” said Lebrun in the tour’s press release. “Guests will get a tour of the entire house, and they’ll hear stories about the haunting that we have here.”
            Of related interest, the house across the street was used in the opening credits of HBO's "True Blood."                                    
            Historic Haunts of Shreveport, a “historic and haunted” trolley tour of historic sites in Shreveport that are reputed to be haunted, will be rolling on Saturday, Nov. 1. Tickets are $55 per person, and may be purchased at www.historichauntsofshreveport.com. Net proceeds from the Historic Haunts of Shreveport tours benefit historic preservation efforts.  
            Want more? Oakland Cemetery has some wonderful stories, including young Cora Lee Wilson whose grave constantly falls apart, the bricks routinely pushed out — from the inside!  The cemetery also contains an eerie mound of hundreds of yellow fever victims buried hastily without markers. Across the street is the Municipal Auditorium, rumored to be haunted, according to those who work there. Many people swear it’s the ghost of Elvis, but we think Elvis would have made it home to Graceland and not the site of his early career.
            Who’s haunting the auditorium? You’ll have to visit and find out. Or watch the GhostHunters episode when they recently visited looking for the King.

Cheré Coen is an award-winning travel writer specializing in the Deep South. She is the author of "Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History," "Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana" and "Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana" and co-author of "Magic's in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets." She also writes Louisiana romances under Cherie Claire, including "A Cajun Dream" and "The Letter." Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.

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