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The seven men in custody in connection with the suspected arson of LeBeau Plantation in Old Arabi apparently were looking for ghosts, according to St. Bernard Parish Sheriff Jimmy Pohlmann. The sheriff said the men had been smoking marijuana and drinking in the vacant house. One of the men is from Arabi, one is from Gretna, and the others are from Texas, the sheriff said. The men, between the ages of 17 and 31, arrived at the home late Thursday night, likely entering through a gap in the fence around the property that had been cut out by other curious trespassers over the years, according to Col.
John Doran, who oversees the Sheriff's Office's criminal enforcement. Doran said the men appear to have become frustrated when no ghosts materialized.
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Police believe that in a haze of alcohol and marijuana, one of them decided to burn the place to the ground. Doran said the ringleader seemed to be Dusten Davenport, 31, of Fort Worth, Texas, who is suspected of having the idea to start the fire, and Casino Big Video Of Slot Winners 2018 began stacking up pieces of wood.
The LeBeau Plantation ignited Friday about 2 a. The landmark, at Bienvenue and Lebeau streetswas built in the s and was one of the largest plantations south of New Orleans. Kevin Barbe, 20, of Arabi, was arrested on charges of accessory to arson and criminal trespassing. Bryon Meek, 29, of Gretna, was arrested on a charge of accessory to arson. In the past 60 years, since it was last inhabited, the house had gone through many decades of decay, including another suspicious fire Casino Gambling Plantations In Louisiana New Orleans that engulfed its roof and attic.
At that time, it was a common place for homeless people to sleep and for teenagers to congregate in the evenings, many of them hoping to see the ghosts of the supposedly haunted mansion, according to Michelle Mahl Buuck, who wrote, "The Historic LeBeau Mansion: They would take many nighttime excursions, going there just hoping to see a ghost," Buuck said.
The most common ghost story involves glimpses of a woman in a white dress, walking on the home's upstairs porch. People would report seeing her through a window, shining in a mysterious light, even after the house's electricity was long gone, Buuck recounted. Another story was that whenever a guest would enter the home, the clock in the main hall would stop, only to start again after that guest had left.
Many blogs discuss the house's history as a plantation and the cruel mistreatment of slaves that occurred there -- with slaves being ordered to bury fellow slaves beaten to death in the fields beside the home. Some people in turn have alleged through the years that the spirits of those dead slaves began to haunt the house, one by one driving its inhabitants insane or suicidal.
Bythe house, then near collapse, had been stabilized, structurally repaired and readied for an extensive renovation. But then Katrina hit, Buuck said. And since then, its windows remained boarded up as its owners discussed the structure's potential future.
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Now all that remains of the house is four chimneys, a small portion of the house's interior brick wall and its brick foundation.
Bernard Parish Historian Bill Hyland traced the property back to Francois Gauthreaux, who had received the property as a land grant from the Company of the Indies in Gauthreaux later sold it to Pierre Rigaud de Vaudreuil, the last governor general of New France, who cultivated that property as an indigo plantation and also harvested cypress and hard wood there that he shipped to colonies in the Caribbean, according to Hyland.
Antoine Bienvenu purchased the property inHyland said. It then changed hands a few times in the early s. Benoit Treme, the son of Claude Treme, who founded Faubourg Treme, purchased the property in the s and operated a brickyard there until Franciose Barthelemy LeBeau bought it inHyland said.
Between andLeBeau completed his room home on the property, but he died in before ever getting to live there, according to Hyland. His family lived in and maintained the home untilwhen they sold it to the Friscoville Realty Company, which turned it into the Friscoville Hotel, according to Buuck.
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Later, the Greek-revival, neoclassical building was purchased by the Jai-Alai Realty Company, who used it as a casino -- complete with gun turrets built into the closets during Prohibition -- and as the Cardone Hotel, a boarding house for casino dealers, Buuck said. That casino was owned by the famous gambler Joe Brown, Buuck and Hyland said. At that point, gambling was legal in St. Bernard but not New Orleans, Hyland said, making it an obviously lucrative proposition in Arabi, next to the city.
The state eventually halted gambling in Arabi and the house went through various successions and sales until Joseph Meraux purchased it in The last time anyone lived in the home was in the early s, besides perhaps an occasional caretaker that Meraux later hired to look after the place, Buuck said. Bernard has really got to hold on to what it has, because so much already has been lost. Stone was awaiting the arrival of the state fire marshal's arson investigator and an arson dog.
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He said by the time the first fire units arrived, the house was "engulfed in fire. It was total devastation. In terms of assessing the financial cost of the damage, Stone simply said the plantation "was priceless. Rita Gue, president of the foundation, said on Friday morning that her family "is so saddened by this fire and we are anxious to see the investigation go forward and see what it is all about. While she said she and her family had been in talks with two or three people about possible uses for site, nothing specific had yet been decided.
If anyone has any tips about the potential arson, Stone asked that they call the parish Fire Department's fire prevention bureau at View full size Built in the s, the LeBeau Plantation House in Old Arabi has been a private residence, a hotel, a boarding house and an illegal casino.
In its heyday, the LeBeau house was one of the largest plantations south of New Orleans. This is what the house looked like in March
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