The Beauregard-Keyes House was built in 1826 by Joseph LeCarpentier, a local auctioneer and grandfather of world-famous chess player Paul Morphy. The house was built as a Greek Revival cottage with Creole touches in the exterior and the interior. The house’s architect was François Correjolles, with James Lambert overseeing the construction. LeCarpentier lived in the house until 1833, when it was sold to John Merle, the Swiss foreign consul in New Orleans.
In 1865 the house was purchased by Dominique Lanata, a local grocer who never lived here, instead renting the property out for many decades. The most famous renter here was also the first: Confederate General Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard (1818-1893), the New Orleans-born general who led Confederate armies at the Battle of Shiloh and over bloody battles throughout the war. Beauregard lived here briefly before the Civil War and then for two years (1866-1868) after the the end of the War.
In 1904, Lanata sold the house to Corrado Giacona, an Italian wholesale liquor distributor who had ties to the local Sicilian Mafia. On June 18, 1908, Corrado’s father, Pietro, shot and killed four members of the Sicilian Mafia while on the back gallery of the house. Soon after, members of the Mafia drove by the front of the house on horseback and unleashed a barrage of gunfire. No-one was injured, but the frightened Giacona family installed a mechanism on the front door that would protect the family from any future intruders. This mechanism still exists.
Between the 1920s and 1940s the house was owned by the Mannino and Owens family, before the home was bought by famed New England author Frances Parkinson Keyes in the 1940s. Keyes and her family wintered at this house for thirty years, and she wrote many of her Louisiana and New Orleans-themed books at this house. Keyes restored the house during her time here, including the original gardens. Keyes died in 1970, and the house has been used as a home museum dedicated to Beauregard and Keyes’ lives.
Not surprisingly, the Beauregard-Keyes House is known as one of the most haunted houses in New Orleans. The bloody Battle of Shiloh (in which General Beauregard played a key role) is said to be recreated in the main hallway, complete with gory details, cannon fire and the smell of blood and decay. In the ballroom, the ghost of a fiddler dressed in a tuxedo is often seen. Out in the garden, more gunshots and yelling is heard, this time from the gun battle that took place here in 1908. There are also reports of a ghost dog and ghost cat, chasing each other throughout the house and gardens. The most outlandish ghost story associated with the house is the legend that chess player Paul Morphy went insane here and tried to murder passing citizens, though there is no record of Morphy ever living in his grandfather’s house as an adult, much less going insane.