Hysterical Amnesia

     There’s this strange building in New Orleans- really more a complex of buildings.
     I used to live a few blocks away and would walk by and wonder.
     So, I started to do a bit of snooping: I jogged right up to the gate and walked in- without a camera.  
     That was then.
     This is now: NO ONE ALLOWED!
     I’ve tried everything I know how: walls are too tall to scale, cameras are everywhere, gates are all locked, no one walking close by inside the fence, uniformed security everywhere.
     Double SHIT
     So off to the Internet I go.
     Turns out this property has a very weird history.
     This land, owned by Bernard deMarigny, who is credited for bringing a dice game to America from France that would later become known as Craps, is compelled to sell. He bet his wad and lost.
     Now owned by Dominique Francois Burthe, the land is subdivided, and sold off, or leased. One large parcel on the river is leased to Jacques Fortier.
      Mr. Fortier (who is the owner of the famous Plantation that was the place that put-down the, little known but largest slave revolt in US history in 1811) has set-up a brickyard, complete with blast furnace, stock yard, river access, overseer’s home, and plenty of slave hovels because the slave revolt that I mentioned above didn’t go the way the slaves had hoped for.
     Mr. Fortier dies, and his widow gets out of the brick business. The land and buildings are abandoned.
     The United States government buys the large parcel and builds a Marine Hospital. The overseer’s house and blast furnace remain.
     The Marine Hospital is used as a convalescence’s home for Civil War veterans.
     Several ‘cottages’ are built on the parcel to house veterans who will be staying on because they have no legs, are morphine addicts, and keep reliving the Battle of Vicksburg- even in their sleep.
     The property and buildings go through several changes of hands resulting in it becoming a Psychiatric facility for mostly young people with “severe mental illness”, of which it remains (now operated by the LSU Health Services Center). 
     The US government decides to use this place to conduct a few highly classified experiments during the cold war of the 1950/60’s like: 
     Creating, by accident, a contaminated polio vaccine that was administered to children, and after which, the government thought it would be wise to develop an antidote. I don’t know what happened to those poor kids who got the bad dose so don’t ask.
     Was frequented by an obscure, slightly odd, young man named Lee Harvey Oswald, who was dating a researcher named Dr. Mary Sherman
     Was a laboratory that was assigned to research developing biological weapons, using monkeys.
     Was the place where the first of a very unusual monkey was shipped, that developed a baffling condition in which the monkey’s ENTIRE immune system shut down. Can you spell A-I-D-S?
     In addition, many indigent people worked at the facility over the years and when they died, they were cremated in the blast furnace- so were Dr. Mary and her monkeys.
     Sort of.
     In 1964, Dr. Mary Sherman was found in her apartment (down the road) having had the police called by a mysterious man, and whereupon, after their arrival, they found she was nearly dead with half of her body simply missing. Like GONE.
     Turns out there had been a little accident in the radiation lab.
     Who moved her is still unknown, as is her case- it’s still an unsolved MURDER, open on the books here in New Orleans, but don’t worry…

I’m on the case.

Looking through the fence at the
Overseer’s house.

Flowers on the 10 foot brick wall that surround the property.

The back gate.


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  • kblakecash - Two edits suggested. AIDS has no “e”, and the word “queer” in that phrase is inflammatory.

    Evil does seem to persist at certain locations, this sounds like one of them.ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl Nicholl - THANK YOU kblakecash!!! You are the bomb! And, THIS, is why YOU are a published author and I am but a humble serf. Corrections made. xxxoooReplyCancel

  • House Crazy Sarah - Okay – I’m in! This is just an amazing story Cheryl! Where does one even start? Monkeys? Lee Harvey Oswald? Unsolved murder of crazy doctor lady?
    You should write a book about this place Cheryl!!!!

    – House Crazy SarahReplyCancel

    • Cheryl Nicholl - Actually a book has already been written: Dr. Mary’s Monkeys. IT IS NOT A PLEASANT READ! Thanks for giving me a heads-up on the comment problem Sarah. Now I’m off to your site. xxxoooReplyCancel

    • enchantedseashells.com - I just saw this, I’m going to search for this.ReplyCancel

  • Lisa D.B. Taylor - This is fascinating. I don’t know if I can handle reading the book or not, but I’d love to come to New Orleans and stare through the fence at this place. Very cool post.ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl Nicholl - The book is disturbing. In fact, I lived only a few blocks from this place several years ago and after reading the book- decided to move. Who knows how much radiation is still in the soil? And looking through the fence is just as scary. And there are so many buildings I just can’t get a photo of. Drat!ReplyCancel

  • Ida Chiavaro - Wow Cheryl, how eery and fascinating. I can’t wait to read more about what the case opens up for you.ReplyCancel

  • Sue - I’ll throw a monkey wrench into it…perhaps the President was assassinated for something about the deadly Polio vaccine. This is scary. Any connection between Dr. Mary and Marilyn Monroe? I have to share this.ReplyCancel

  • Meredith - Ha! Love that you are on the case with this! Keep at it and keep us posted–so interesting to read the history of this place!ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl Nicholl - I want a tour of the grounds. I’ve got to call LSU and special permission. I’ll keep you updated.ReplyCancel

  • William Kendall - It sounds like a spooky spot….ReplyCancel

  • Ellen Dolgen - Shivers! That’s A LOT of strange and disturbing circumstances for one property. New Orleans holds so many secrets. Keep us posted.ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl Nicholl - It really is, isn’t it? And it’s still in use today as a facility for mentally ill youth. I wouldn’t think they’d like to look out and view all of the empty abandoned buildings. That wouldn’t ease my mind.ReplyCancel

  • enchantedseashells.com - I want to hear more! This is fascinating.ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl Nicholl - I’d like to know more, but they won’t let me (or anyone else) in. I guess I’ll have to be a patient (not a stretch).ReplyCancel

  • Jenny Lynn - I enjoy a good mystery as well. Think my Hubby and I will want to read that books, since we have read many books on JFK and watched many theories on why he was killed.ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl Nicholl - I’m not a conspiratorist but the book makes several powerful arguments. You really should read it if you’re the least bit interested in JFK and the cold war times.ReplyCancel

  • Glenn Nall - well, you SHOULD be a published writer. That was Awesome.ReplyCancel

  • Glenn Nall - well, you SHOULD be a published writer. That was Awesome.ReplyCancel

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