Hometown Horror Stories: Vessel


NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA (WGNO) — “There was something lurking in there. I felt it from day one,” says Alec Wilder, one of the owners of Vessel, a restaurant in Mid-City.

Vessel is a beautiful establishment with equally breathtaking gastronomy. They have been recognized in Architectural Digest as one of the eight most beautiful restaurants and former churches in the world. They were also recently recognized for something completely different– their restaurant is haunted.

Owners Alec Wilder and Eddie Dyer purchased the building just a couple of years ago, after Alec had a feeling, while in bed in Los Angeles that something unique was pulling him to New Orleans. They bought the building sight unseen– then the real fun began!

Initially, the building suffered from foundation issues.  Curiously, when a commercial contractor came to view the building, he was awestruck. “They did not know what was holding the building up because the entire foundation of the building was collapsed.  Something is here that wanted the building saved,” says Alec.

But that wasn’t the only reason they thought Vessel might have a ghost or two. Alec told us that they went through a lot of employees, “which is not uncommon for the service industry, but it was unusual…they were all men. Water glasses fell repeatedly and weird things happened. People were saying they saw this boy or teenage person in the back sanctuary. I would be in our office upstairs and I would feel a very soft touch on my neck. This happens a lot.”

“Someone reported all the burners were on. In fact, our previous chef even had an exorcism here because he was having so many problems,” says Eddie.

The ‘something’ became apparent when earlier this year, Alec and Eddie contacted The Dead Files, a paranormal investigation television show, and showed them surveillance video of an orb circling the patio.

What The Dead Files found was intriguing. They concluded, that the main ghost of Vessel was the bright orb in the video — a wealthy aristocratic woman in a red dress. The lady phantom was none other than the tenacious 18th-century business owner Micaela Almonester, known as the Baroness Pontalba. The Baroness is responsible for changing the artistic look of the French Quarter. She also survived a troubled marriage that led to her receiving a bullet from her father-in-law.

As it turns out, having such a stylish and influential spectral visitor, is not such a bad thing after all. “We want the Baroness to stay because this is her land. She is such an influential person. She owned this and she can add a lot to help us be successful. I felt she pulled me to this building. The way things turned out, I was drawn to this building because of her,” says Alec.

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