This week we welcome Christa Allan to Author Memories.
Christa writes not-your-usual Christian fiction, stories that focus on redemption for the broken.
Camellia Manor: Back to the 1840s
by Christa Allan
When my parents moved to the suburbs after my brother was born, my grandmother came with us. But during the first four years of my life, we lived on Ursuline Street in New Orleans, in my grandmother’s house. My own memories of that home are fuzzy, most of them made sharper by Gram’s recollections. It was a shotgun home, like most built during its time. Gram always said they were called “shotgun” homes because a gun could be fired from the front door and exit the back door without ever hitting a wall.
This is a picture of the house as it looks today. We lived on the left side, and when we lived there the house was painted white, with green shutters.
My husband needed to be closer to work, and through what could only be called a God-incidence, we found the perfect home, in the Bywater District of New Orleans. Built in the 1840s and expanded there-after by a series of owners, the house sits on three lots on the corner. Called Camellia Manor by the former owners (her father planted unusual and beautiful camellias on the property), the home used to be a bed and breakfast. Downstairs and up, the ceilings are 13 feet, and separating some of the rooms are the original cypress pocket doors. One of the owners said she had occasion to visit with mother and daughter ghosts, but she asked them to leave the home. Of course, my husband and I smiled, thinking it made for an interesting story, perfect for the quirky artsy community in which we now lived.
But then. . .
Since we’ve moved in, the fan in the upstairs hall often turns on, to full speed by itself. The light on the fan also turns on and off of its own accord. On more than one occasion, I’ve arrived home from work to find lights on that had been turned off when we left that morning.
Our bedroom fan also has a mind of its own. During the night, my husband will turn it on, then minutes later it’s off again. Or, he’ll turn it off, and it turns on sometime after that.
I tramped upstairs sometime later, announcing, “I’m coming up!” At first, I hesitated even sharing this with people for fear I’d come off like a total wingnut. But people who know me well, are aware that I’m not one to give credence to the whole notion of ghosts. But I suppose when you live in the voodoo capital of the country, there’s bound to be a few loose creatures running around.
Lately, I’ve joked that I’d welcome any sort of kindly spirits as long as they participated in cleaning, cooking, laundry…If some of that would happen mysteriously, then I’d truly believe! But, alas, it hasn’t.
And while I’m not totally convinced someone or two else may be living rent-free in our house, I’m not totally convinced they aren’t. I’ve not spent a night alone, so I don’t want to boast that I’ve conquered the creepy feelings. I’m still experiencing a wee bit of hair-on-my-neck tingling when I walk up the staircase at night. I continue to sit in my wingback chair, but I’ve not closed the bedroom/office door since it opened that night.
Of course, the writer in me is stirring this around and brewing a gumbo of a story! During the summer, I plan to visit the archives in New Orleans to unearth as much information about the house as possible. There’s also a former slave cottage on the property. It’s uninhabitable, but I’m sure it has a history all its own.
I don’t know if the mom and her daughter are still hanging out. If they are, I think my grandmother might be joining them because I know she would be thrilled to find her granddaughter back in the city she loved.
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to be entered in a draw for a copy of Christa Allan's first Historical,
Love Finds You in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Love Finds You In New Orleans, Louisiana, Summerside Press, Available now
Now facing an arranged marriage to a suitor she dreads, she finds herself attracted to somebody else: a young Creole man named Gabriel Girod.
Meanwhile, her grandparents harbor a family secret.
Will the truth set everybody free—especially Charlotte?