Seven Plead Guilty in LeBeau Plantation Fire

LeBeau plantation house, prior to its destruction.

LeBeau plantation house, prior to its destruction.

[] Seven men have plead guilty to setting fire to the infamous LeBeau Manor in Arabi, Louisiana. On Friday, November 22, 2013, the men, ages 17 to 31, were drinking and smoking pot when they became upset that they could not summon the ghosts that allegedly haunted the 159 year old mansion. At the time of their arrest, St. Bernard Parish Sheriff James Pohlmann told the Associated Press, “They were in there looking for ghosts, drinking, smoking dope, and for some reason they made a decision — a conscious decision — before they left to set this building on fire.”

The men plead guilty to various arson and trespassing charges, and were sentenced to 10-11 years in prison, with five years of that term suspended, and with credit for time served.

Built by Francois Barthelemy LeBeau outside Arabi, Louisiana in 1854, the LeBeau Plantation manor was the largest remaining antebellum mansion in the New Orleans area. Arabi was known for its stockyards and slaughterhouses, which were banned from the New Orleans city limits. Francois LeBeau died the same year his home was finished, but his widow lived there until 1879. From 1920s to the 1940s, the mansion operated as the Cardone (or Friscoville) Hotel, a speakeasy and gambling house.

The plantation was allegedly one of the most haunted in the area. Guard dogs employed to keep trespassers away reportedly turned up dead. According to legend, “About 150 years ago, the Lebeau plantation had been the sight of cruel mistreatment of slaves by the Lebeaus. They would beat their slaves, sometimes to death, and then order the other slaves to bury the dead off in the fields beside the house. This murderous behavior continued until it seems that the spirits of the dead began to haunt the Lebeau family and one by one drove them all to insanity. Eventually, each of the Lebeaus committed suicide in turn.”

Charred timber and four brick chimneys were all that remained after the fire. With its age and historical significance, the LeBeau Manor was an irreplaceable gem.

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