Take any New Orleans tour and you'll see the overwhelming influence of the French — from neighborhood and street names and the French impact on Creole cuisine to the state law's foundation in Napoleonic Code. Unfortunately, the Great New Orleans Fires of 1788 and 1794 wiped out much of the wooden French architecture in the French Quarter. Only three French buildings remain in the historic Vieux Carre, and all have haunting histories. Madame John's Legacy (632 Dumaine Street) The green and white home at 632 Dumaine Street is one of few in the city that survived the great fire of 1794. The historic landmark serves as a prime example of late-18th century Louisiana Creole architecture, but visitors searching out New Orleans' more sinister and ghoulish hot spots will be more interested in the home's moment in Hollywood's spotlight. In one memorable scene in the 1994 Brad Pitt/Tom Cruise blockbuster Interview With the Vampire, the young vamp Claudia plays the piano in the home's parlor before gorily killing the family living there. (Visit the Big Easy's most famous film sites on a Hollywood South Movie Tour.) The Old Ursuline Convent (1100 Chartres Street) On a French Quarter ghost tour, you'll learn about the sisters of the Ursuline Convent who nursed New Orleans through many tragedies, including yellow fever and cholera epidemics, and both the Civil War and the War of 1812. The story goes that some of the sisters find it hard to leave the convent, even after death. Visit the first floor, which is now a museum, and you may just spot the apparitions, dressed in typical nun's habit with rosaries, appearing to tend to the sick that once convalesced here. Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop (941 Bourbon Street) Built around 1722, the brick and post building located on the quiet end of Bourbon Street has a decidedly less-than-quiet history. In the early 1800s, brothers Pierre and Jean Lafitte operated a successful blacksmith shop that doubled as a front for the enterprising privateers to move rum and other contraband in and out of the city. Today, the popular bar serves a lot of patrons, including at least one that has been dead for a few hundred years, according to New Orleans ghost tour guides. Many believe that Jean Lafitte himself haunts the pub, standing in a dark corner glowering at patrons or, when the mood strikes, sitting at a table enjoying a cold pint. Coming to New Orleans for Halloween or Voodoo Fest 2011? It's the perfect time for a New Orleans ghost tour, cemetery tour or vampire tour. Book it today on NewOrleans.com.
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