The Home: Marie Laveau’s House

Marie Laveau’s home once stood on the site of present-day 1020 and 1022 St. Ann Street. Marguerite Darcantel, Laveau’s mother, and Catherine Henry, Laveau’s grandmother, raised Marie Laveau at the property. Marie Laveau went on to raise her own family in the same house and often opened the building up to those in need.

The story of how Marie Laveau obtained her house is an example of how myth often supersedes fact. Many attribute Laveau’s homeownership to her Vodou abilities. According to one legend, a wealthy man petitioned Laveau for help. The man’s son was accused of murder and lawyers said the case was hopeless. The man asked Laveau for his son’s freedom and in payment, he would grant Laveau a house on St. Ann Street. In preparation for the trial, Laveau spent weeks praying to Vodou loa (spirits) and Catholic saints in St. Louis Cathedral. While in prayer, Laveau held guinea peppers, which are extremely spicy, in her mouth. When the spirits saw this willingness to suffer, they heard her intention. On the morning of the trial, Laveau placed the guinea peppers under the judge’s seat. The man’s son was proclaimed innocent and Marie gained the house on St. Ann. [1]

Laveau’s actual acquisition of the house is a less thrilling tale. The cottage on St. Ann Street (numbered 179 St. Ann from 1823-1861 and 152 St. Ann after 1861) was built for Catherine Henry, Marie Laveau’s grandmother, sometime after she purchased the lot in 1798. After Catherine Henry’s death, the legal heirs to the cottage, consisting of Marie Laveau and her cousins, decided to sell the cottage to pay their grandmother’s expenses. Jean Louis Christophe Duminy de Glapion, Leveau’s common-law husband, purchased the property. [2]

Jean Louis Christophe Duminy de Glapion came from a prominent New Orleans family. Glapion was white and American anti-miscegenation laws deemed interracial marriages illegal. [3] In order to circumnavigate these laws, Glapion deeded the cottage to the minor children he and Marie produced, giving everyone in the family the legal right to live there. At times, Glapion claimed he was a mulatre, or of mixed race. [4]

Glapion and Laveau had seven children together, Marie Heloise Euchariste (1827-1862), Marie Louise (1829-1829), Christophe (1831-1831), Jean Baptiste (1832-1832), Francois Maurice (1833-1834), Marie Philomene (1836-1897), and Archange Edouard (1839-1845). Only Marie Heloise and Marie Philomene lived to adulthood, both of whom produced children who were also raised in the St. Ann cottage. [5]

Not only did Marie Laveau raise her family in this cottage, but it was also her workspace and a safe haven for many in need. Journalists recorded the house to be simple, but elaborate altars decorated the interior. [6] People interviewed by the WPA Federal Writers Project mentioned altars with statues of saints, animal parts, and effigies in Laveau’s cottage. WPA Interviewees also mentioned how Laveau opened her home to orphans and allowed Choctaw vendors to shelter there. [7]

Like many Creole women in New Orleans, the home was the center of Laveau’s life. The cottage at St. Ann was an ancestral home where Laveau’s grandmother defied a patriarchal and racist society by buying her own home and raising her family. Laveau raised her own family here. Glapion, their children, and Laveau herself passed away in this home. The cottage was demolished in 1903, and the current structure at 1020 St. Ann marks the approximate location of her home. [8]



1020-1022 St. Ann Street, New Orleans, LA ~ Building no longer extant.