Blog by Keen intern Sarris Balcerzak based on a story from Spirit of New Orleans by Kala Ambrose.
December of 1850 was a cold winter for New Orleans. Julie was visiting her extremely wealthy lover in the comforts of his Royal Street apartment—he had not yet married. He treated Julie as well as any man with an octoroon mistress could be expected to, he gave her gifts, set her up in her own cottage, and she visited him frequently.
Julie desperately wanted to marry the man she loved and this conversation led to many fights. One day, her lover told her that if she stripped naked and stood on the roof—in the sleeting rain—all night and into morning, that would prove her love for him (for love would keep her warm, he said) and he would agree to marry her despite his father’s wishes—and fortune. If she failed, she would stay his mistress.
Now, Julie’s lover never expected his mistress to take the bargain seriously. He couldn’t imagine she’d think of standing outside given the weather conditions, much less stark naked. So he went downstairs to play cards with other wealthy men and gave the matter no more thought.
He returned to the bedroom late that night to find it empty. He searched the house for Julie, to no avail. Finally, he found her: lying naked on the roof, cold and completely void of life.
Rumors suggest that her lover died of heartache just one year later. Many guests of the house, however, have seen Julie. Sometimes she’s nude with hallowed eyes filled with intangible despair, other times she’s dressed in a nightgown reaching as if to embrace her lover. Her love for him never ended, she remains in the house searching for him. Others report seeing a young man playing cards. The two are never seen together. It’s as if they are still searching for each other in the afterlife. It appears that they are both caught in moments of despair, trapped by their fateful circumstances.
As time went on the house transformed into the Bottom of the Cup Tea Room—a famous psychic shop—employees of this place said Julie’s mood goes sour every December. You can still visit the location that once housed the lovers and was once the “most reliable psychic shop in town.” Be sure to pick up your copy of Spirit of New Orleans by Kala Ambrose for other ghostly tales.