You might have noticed some spikes on balcony poles in the French Quarter. Did you know that they are called Romeo Catchers? Some have intricate designs, others remind us more for barbwire. Some have broken off and some are still intact. Romeo Catchers are usually made from cast iron. Most of them seem to be located on the upper parts of the balcony poles on the ground floor. The next time you head to the French Quarter, see how many Romeo Catchers you can spot. You might be surprised how many you will find.
Why Romeo Catchers
Don’t think these curly and spiky ornaments are part of the Gothic architecture of some houses in the French Quarter, they actually had a purpose. Girls usually lived on the second floors in the French Quarter Homes and the spikes were meant to keep boyfriends and other suitors (Romeos) from climbing up the balconies to secretly visit their Juliets in the middle of the night.
Romeo Catchers’ Ghost
Legend has it that the Romeo Catchers did turn one young man into a ghost who still haunts the streets of the French Quarter. They say it happened at a home on Orleans St in the late 19th century. The young man visited his girl, but her father unexpectedly returned home early. When he noticed the noise upstairs, he shot his gun to scare the young man. They say the father shot the gun in the air trying to scare the boy, not to kill him. However, the gunshot noise scared the boy who was trying to climb down the balcony. He reportedly fell onto the Romeo Spikes of the home. The story says that he died from his injuries and haunts the area to this day.
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