One Photo Story: Madam LaLaurie at the Wax Museum

The Musée Conti Wax Museum shuttered its doors in 2016 to make way for condos. Along with Arnaud’s Germaine Wells Mardi Gras Museum, it was a place I would pop into often when I was in the quarter.

The wax museum was no Madame Tussauds but that made it all the more perfect. Minus the hall of horrors, the main roundabout told the history of New Orleans in a New Orleans fashion. Scarier than than the likes of Dracula, was the Madam LaLaurie tableau.

LaLaurie, an affluent woman whose large dwelling still stands in the French Quarter, is known for her sadistic treatment of her many slaves. The story has changed over time, becoming more graphic and filled out as time goes by. The facts are she was a socialite in New Orleans, she owned many slaves, and there was a fire on her property in 1834 and little was recorded about her life after this.

The story goes that the fire was started by one of her tortured slaves who was chained to the stove. When the fire department came to put out the fire, a horrific scene was laid before them. As shown at the wax museum, she disfigured and mutilated and did horrendous experiments in her attic. The Madam had to flee to France to avoid the angry mob.

As a guide once stated while commencing a ghost tour, the streets of New Orleans have seen 300 years of pain and suffering. The wax museum didn’t shy away from that. The folklore gets to the truth sometimes better than the facts.