Most of this story is probably pure hooey. Or it may not be.
Perhaps the self-proclaimed Mississippi-born witch who sold flour and potions in a French Quarter store in the 1970s actually found a metaphysical portal in another reality. And perhaps that portal is under a strange wooden bed in a small apartment connected to a commercial facility currently on the market for $ 1.2 million.
And perhaps a slow and wonderful rhythm and blues star, a devout weirdo, Dr. John was hanging out there. And pop art pioneer Andy Warhol may have visited once.And who knows, maybe there that is Bodyless spirits flying around the property, like termites around streetlights.
The two-story plaster townhouse on 521 St. Philip Street was built around 1825. By Vukare’s standards, it’s normal Jane. Painted in neutral grey, it has no decoration except for the discreet neoclassical dentition at the top.
Most of the building is divided into residential condominiums that surround a small courtyard. The part containing the metaphysical portal to another reality is the ground floor, which is a 1,680-square-foot storefront strip facing the sidewalk.
There are four old-fashioned store entrances. The leftmost door leads to an antique and antique store called Le Coffre Au Tre’sor, as well as an eerie séance store. The next door leads to a small little foyer called the Chess Cave, where New Orleans chess master Jude Acres places his boards and chairs. The third and fourth doors lead to the Hands of Fate Tarot, Palmistry and Astrology Salons. This is also the starting point for an evil historical tour.
McEnery Company, a real estate company marketing retail space, calls it “spiritual and historic.”
Mary Oneida Toups arrived in New Orleans at the time of the 1968 hippie era flowering and soon entered the magic business. She set up a plant at 521 St. Philip, where she stocked the “largest choice in the country” for all-natural medicinal and magical remedies.
A photo of the 1972 location shows jars and shelves lined with jars such as hyssop, pokeberries, and queen’s roots. It’s a “queen of witches” taupe standing behind her with her arms crossed, wearing a 1970s pattern blouse.
1972 was also the year Toups founded a rally of like-minded dissident spiritualists. According to the Times-Picayune column in March 1972, she officially registered the occultist association in the state, like a church.
Columnist Howard Jacobs wrote:
Dona Kolva knows everything about Toups, at least as much as everyone knows.
Kolva has been working for Le Coffre Au Tre’sor for seven years and has gathered facts and anecdotes from people who are studying to remember or study the entrepreneurial witch who once occupied the storefront of St. Philip. Kolva, she said, Toups is primarily a good witch and she is interested in the healing and happiness of others. She used to perform Wicca rituals at the Pop Fountain in City Park.
Her husband, Boots Toups, was a companion to Mac Rebennack, a musician who created a glamorous voodoo priest stage persona called Dr. John. The doctor seems to have been affiliated with the plant. According to Dr. John’s witty autobiography, “Under the Hoodoo Moon,” Boots and Onida asked him to lend his name to surgery.
As he recalled, “Voodoo Dr. John Temple ran out of muzzles on St. Philip Street, and for years I was quite hanging out there.”
According to Colva, Dr. John may have occasionally crashed in a small apartment behind the store where the witch queen built the altar. Before they laid a new floor in the apartment a few years ago, the floor had a large pentagram (benevolent pentagram) on it.
A small bed with an elaborate wooden canopy and a wall-mounted widescreen TV stand where the altar and gold coins were. The symbol of Toups’ spirituality may have disappeared, but a magical portal to “another space and time” As you can see in the online real estate pamphletObviously it’s still fully functional.
Colva stated that clairvoyance perceives a haunted blue figure in the area. In fact, she said, visitors see, hear, and feel mysterious things everywhere.
Occasionally, they may also see a remarkable body.
At one point, actor Benedict Cumberbatch stopped by — he didn’t say much, but Colva said. And perhaps Andy Warhol recorded his visit to the Toups store in his extensive diary. The silver-haired artist curated the exhibition at the New Orleans Museum of Art in 1970, and at some point ten years later, held a solo exhibition at a local gallery.
Kolva said Toups gave up the store in the late 1970s when she and Boots left the company. She died soon.
67-year-old Kolva is the perfect keeper of Toups’ heritage. She is enthusiastic about the precious antique jewelery, guitars, sports jerseys, and everything weird there. She is enthusiastic about the eerie facts and superstitions that accompany the territory. And she clearly loves Toups’ assertive role in her life.
“You know she was a free spirit,” Colva said. She came to the French Quarter from a completely different place. Like the countless people in front of her, “she reinvented herself and became her own,” Colva said.
“I think she knew what she wanted to be,” Colva said in her previous life in Meridian, Mississippi. “You don’t just read about magic and become a witch. There is something in you that leaves you with the comfort of what you know.”
Born in North Dakota and living in Los Angeles before settling in New Orleans, Colva said the sale of the property wouldn’t be grieving and he had to leave 521 St. Philip Street.
“I hate leaving,” she said, but she’s almost retired anyway, and hopes the property owners will be well.
Who knows, maybe the witch’s former hideout would be a nice coffee shop or something.
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