Located at 417 Royal
Street in the heart of the French Quarter,
Brennan's Restaurant has been a culinary
phenomenon in New Orleans since it opened
its doors in 1946. The Brennan's menu is
known and highly regarded throughout the
world and most visitors do not want to miss
an opportunity to have a meal at this famous
location while visiting the Crescent City.
The Royal Street
location that Brennan's now occupies was
maintained as a private residence throughout
the 19th century and into the 20th century,
until Edward Brennan founded his famous
restaurant. Most of the paranormal activity
that has been identified at Brennan's is
attributed to the families who owned and
occupied this former New Orleans town house
in the early years of the 19th century.
The location passed through several owners
and so the identity of the ghostly spectres
cannot be verifiably traced, however, their
presence is undeniable.
Members of the Brennan
family who currently own and operate the
restaurant readily admit that there are
ghosts at the location. Once famous haunting
there involves the infamous spectre of the
second-storey Red Room. Said to be the spirit
of a former owner who lost everything in
financial ruin and who committed suicide
after murdering his family, the ghostly
atmosphere of the Red Room is usually all
anyone needs to convince them that the place
is haunted. Staff and employees, however,
often have to go to the room for linens
or tables and additional chairs, and there
have been reports of a mysterious misty
figure who literally haunts their steps
the entire time they are working upstairs.
Patrons who have rented the room for special
events have reported the ghostly image of
a man dressed in 18th century clothing seen
peering in disapprovingly at the festivities.
Some have encountered simply a feeling of
his presence, an anger and foreboding, just
outside the main door to the Red Room.
Another active spectre
is said to the be ghost of the late Chef
Paul Blange who created many of Brennan's
signature dishes and helped build the reputation
of the esteemed eatery.
European Chef Paul
Blange, who worked for decades at the famous
eatery and was so devoted to the restaurant
that when he died the restaurant’s
menu, a knife and fork were placed across
his chest of his dead body as he lay in
the coffin. "No one ever thought Chef
Blange would leave Brennan’s, and
apparently, he never did," says Jimmy
Brennan, an owner of the establishment.
The Chef is said to lurk in the kitchen,
his natural location in life, and many of
the chef staff have reported the feeling
of being watched, and even of something
touching them while they are preparing meals.
Late at night, when the guests have gone
and staff are locking up, Chef Paul will
bang doors and pots in the empty kitchen.
And this is where the ghost is most often
Another former employee
is said to haunt and be sighted in the wine
cellar that he made famous. Herman Funk,
a wine master whom Brennan's employed to
build their fabulous cache of famous and
renowned wines and spirits, is said to be
still attached to his job even in the afterlife.
Most employees don't like going to the wine
racks alone, although they brave their way
through it. For every clink of a bottle
the employee makes, it is said, there is
a mimicking "clink" of another
bottle just out of reach. This, they say,
is Herman Funk making his suggestion for
a wine selection. Employees who have been
there awhile admit that they will usually
go with Funk's selection, in addition to
what the guest might request, bringing patrons
a choice "just to keep Herman happy."
For a haunting in
the most sumptuous surroundings, Brennan's,
the famous French Quarter restaurant, offers
it's red dining room. Tucked away upstairs
and lit by gas chandeliers, the room was
the scene of a murder-suicide during the
Civil War when the owner of the house killed
his wife and son then hanged himself from
the elaborate brass chandelier.
"I've seen the
ghost there myself," says a waiter
at Brennan's for 10 years. "The cleaning
crew won't go in there at night, but a lot
of people request that room for dinner.
They hope to see the ghost.
was taken from the Brennan Restaurant site
The two story structure as we know it today
was built by Don Vincente Rillieux in 1795.
After Rillieux died, his widow, Dame Maria
Fonquet Rillieux, gave the property to her
son-in-law, Santiago Freret. On June 2,
1801, Freret relinquished the title to Don
Jose Faurie for 8,650 Mexican pesos.
The first transaction
of the Royal Street property on record occurred
on December 3, 1794, when Gaspar Debuys
and Huberto Remy purchased the land from
Angela Monget. On December 8, just five
days later, the great fire of 1794 destroyed
more than two hundred buildings in the city,
including whatever buildings existed at
417 Royal Street. While the Spanish still
ruled Louisiana, Don Vincente Rillieux,
the great-grandfather of the French artist
Edgar Degas, bought the land from Debuys
and Remy. The purchase occurred on January
8, 1795, exactly one month after the fire.
Records show that Debuys and Remy sold their
lot, including the ruins of their building.
The lot still had the original dimensions
assigned by Pauger of 60 feet x 120 feet.
Don Jose Faurie not only
lived in the mansion Rillieux had built,
but conducted his business there also. On
January 26, 1805, Faurie sold his house
to Julien Poydras. Julien Poydras was the
president of the newly organized Banque
de la Louisiane (founded on March 11, 1804,
by Governor Claiborne) and he converted
his new purchase into a banking facility.
The bank was the first
financial institution to be operated in
New Orleans as well as in all of the territory
secured by the United States through the
Louisiana Purchase of 1803. Extensive renovations
of the building by the bank included the
addition of an intricately designed wrought-iron
balcony railing with the bank's LB monogram,
a compelling example of ferronnier’s
art that still exists within the structure
In 1819, after the original
Louisiana Bank had outlived its charter,
the ground floor of the building was occupied
temporarily by the Louisiana State Bank.
On October 5,1820, the liquidators of La
Banque de la Louisiane sold the property
to Martin Gordon, a socially prominent Virginia
gentleman and clerk of the United States
The Gordon family was
noted for its lavish hospitality. The family
home soon became the center of fashionable
Creole social activities. Gordon was active
in the politics of the day and a friend
of General Andrew Jackson. General Jackson
was the guest of honor at many lavish banquets
staged at the Gordon home. After Andrew
Jackson became President, he appointed Martin
Gordon to the office of Collector of the
Port of New Orleans in appreciation of Gordon's
generosity and hospitality.
Unfortunately, in 1841
the Gordon Family met with financial reverses.
The building was seized by the Citizen's
Bank and sold at auction by the sheriff.
Judge Alonzo Morphy, a former state attorney
general and a member of Louisiana's high
court, purchased the building.
Judge Morphy was the
father of Paul Morphy. This is the house
where Paul learned to play chess from his
uncle Ernest; where he grew up; where he
always returned and where he lived until
his death in 1884. Alonzo Morphy moved to
New Orleans in 1809 from Charleston, South
Carolina where his family had lived first
on King Street and then Meeting Street.
In New Orleans, he met and married Louise
Therese Thelcide Le Carpentier, the daughter
of Joseph Essau Le Carpentier and Modest
Blanche Le Carpentier and lived in the newly
constructed mansion at 1113 Chartres Street.
In 1841, Alonzo and Thelcide packed up their
four children, Edward, Malvina, Paul and
Helena and moved to their new home on 89
Royal Street, which would later be re-numbered
to 417. The house would remain in the Morphy
family until after the deaths of Malvina
and John Sybrandt in 1894 (who moved in
after the death of of Helena, the last survivor
of the household, in 1886). Paul Morphy
himself died on July 10 1884, followed closely
by his mother on January 11, 1885
One unusual feature of
the house was that Judge Morphy had designed
a huge chess board on the floor of one of
the upstairs rooms for his son's delight.
After purchasing the house
on Royal Street, extensive refurbishing
was necessary and for several months the
Morphy family took up residence in one of
the Pontalba buildings (four story brick
buildings) on St. Peter Street.
After the sale of the property by the executors
of the Morphy estate, it passed through
several owners. It was finally purchased
by William Ratcliffe Irby, who acquired
his fortune in tobacco, dairy products and
banking, and, as a member of the Board of
Administrators of Tulane University, donated
the property at 417 Royal Street to Tulane
University in 1920. Owen Edward Brennan
rented the property from Tulane University
in 1954, renovating and restoring it's original
charm while converting it into the restaurant
that exists today. In 1984, Owen's three
sons, Pip, Jimmy and Ted, purchased the
building from Tulane University.
Every year since 1983,
Wine Spectator magazine has given Brennan’s
its Grand Award, dubbing it one of the 100
best wine cellars in the world
web site /www.brennansneworleans.com
2.Top Ten Haunted Restaurants in New Orleans
417 Royal Street
N of Conti Street
In the French Quarter
New Orleans, LA 70130
Home of Bananas Foster
Cuisine: Creole, seafood, veal, fine dining
Year Built: 1795