DeRidder, Louisiana, is a town only some people would visit. It's a small logging town that only had a claim to fame thanks to the Kansas City Railroad Depot in its center. At least, that was the official story for years. In downtown DeRidder, there's a building that fits differently from the aesthetic of the rest of the area. It's a gorgeous, Gothic building with a bell tower on top. It sits right next to the courthouse and has a sinister history.
The History of the DeRidder Gothic Jail
The building was finished in 1915, getting the moniker of a "Gothic" jail from its architectural style. During that time, most colleges and universities employed this style of building. Using "Collegiate Gothic" architecture for a jail wasn't typical. Most people compared its style to a mansion instead of a jailhouse.
The three-story building boasts a Jailer's quarters, an office, and a holding cell on the bottom floor. The cells for most prisoners can be found on the building's second and third floors. The jail held prisoners, and the "warden" and his family lived there. There is a total of eight permanent cells and one holding cell. Each of the cells in the building opens outward and faces the spiral staircase in the center of the building. A tunnel was constructed beneath the jail to limit public and inmate interactions. This tunnel leads to the courthouse next door.
Locals say you can see the warden's spirit sitting on the jailhouse's front porch. He sits in his rocking chair, smoking a pipe, but he doesn't seem hostile. The hostile ghosts are inside the jail. Two men in 1928 were convicted of murdering a taxi driver. Joe Genna and Molton Brasseaux hired the cab driver, killed him, stole his money, and dumped his body in a pond. They were hanged from the bell tower. Rumor has it you can capture images of them if you time your photos just right. Reports of paranormal activity include voices, feeling like you're being pushed, and cell apparitions.
But those aren't the only spirits you can find roaming the halls of the old jail. Countless prisoners died in that building. Some died from old age and natural causes. Others died during disputes with their cellmates. There were twelve bunks per cell. Arguments would happen in a building that could hold up to fifty prisoners. The jail was opened in 1915 and remained in use until 1985. It was closed, after that, until 2017, when the building was reopened for tours. You can ask almost anyone in town, and they'll tell you the same thing. Even those who don't believe in ghosts say there's something off about the old jail. People even questioned why the jail was closed for so long.