Fan Pick: Inside Myrtles Plantation

For Friday the 13th, we asked our Facebook fans which spooky house they’d rather take a peek inside of: Winchester Mystery House, a Victorian mansion in California, or Myrtles Plantation, an antebellum estate in Louisiana. Myrtles Plantation won by a hair, so here’s a closer look at this historic bed and breakfast, touted as one of the most haunted houses in America.

Built in 1796 by General David Bradford, the home has allegedly been the scene of at least 10 murders, yet only one has been confirmed: William Winter, who was shot on the porch of the house in 1871. The plantation is said to be home to at least 12 ghosts, and visitors and former residents have reported many strange occurrences: disappearing jewelry; waking to find themselves completely tucked into their beds; furniture that moves on its own; a grand piano that plays by itself; mysterious handprints; and objects and people appearing and disappearing randomly in photographs.

Mark Leonard, a tour guide at Myrtles Plantation for two years, shared one of his spookiest experiences at the property with FrontDoor. In his own words, here’s what happened when Leonard spent the night at the plantation last year:

It was the night before Hurricane Isaac, August 26th 2012.  All our reservations were canceling and management had decided to close the bed and breakfast except for a skeleton staff to answer the phones during the day and someone to stay at the plantation for a few nights in case of an emergency.

I volunteered.  I am a playwright and a novelist (I was almost finished with my novel about a famous murder on the plantation) and the idea of spending three nights, all alone, in America’s most haunted house during a hurricane was irresistible.

To top it off, I decided to spend the night in one of the more notorious rooms in the mansion, The Ruffin Stirling. It is the room where one of the ghosts is known to drag occupants out of the bed.  I had spent dozens of nights in the house, but never in this room and I thought a hurricane would be the perfect time to experience something extraordinary.

I was right.

At 9:40 p.m., the night before the storm, I was lying in the huge four-poster bed reading a Dashiell Hammett collection when the bed started shaking.  I was wide-awake and I felt the mattress rocking like it was made of Jell-O. I watched the two posts at the bottom of the bed wave like pom-poms. 

I have no idea how long it lasted.  I remember looking at my watch and seeing the time when it started, but I was too terrified to look at it again.  It was all I could do to stay in the bed. 

My first thought was that it was an earthquake.  I had been in the horrendous Northridge Earthquake in California in 1994 and it felt like this, but I looked around the room and nothing but the bed was moving.  The huge chandelier was immobile and the candelabrum on the mantle by the bed with its dangling crystals was dead solid still.

And this was lasting a lot longer than an earthquake.

I didn’t get out of the bed.  I was too terrified to move.  I most have fallen asleep eventually because the next thing I was aware of was dawn.  The first thing I did was get out of bed and try to make the posts move like they had the night before.  I pushed the bed. I kicked the bed. I pressed my whole body against it to try to make it shake.  The huge antique bed was immovable.

Later, I went down to the office for phone duty with Hester Eby (who knows more about the Myrtles Plantation than any other living human being). I told her what had happened and she just laughed and said it just meant that the spirits of the house were playing with me, that they must like me.

I suggested that perhaps the heavy traffic escaping from the hurricane on Highway 61 might have caused the vibrations that made the bed shake.  She just smiled at me and put her hand gently on my arm and said, “Baby, if that is what you want to believe, you just go right ahead and believe it.”

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