In haunted old Louisville, Central Park was once the front lawn of the DuPont family mansion, one of the earliest in Old Louisville. Uncle Vic frequented the place, but spent most of his time downtown, in the Galt House hotel.
It was late summer in Louisville, several decades ago and the heat had broken. But not the humidity. The sun had just set, a thick fog was rolling in, and a toss from one of the boys playing ball there went astray.
Its intended recipient took off towards a tree where he thought he saw it roll. But it wasn’t there. Out of the fog came footsteps on the sidewalk, then a man, wearing a cape and a top hat. The gaslights were already on and illuminated him from behind, obscuring his features.
A white hand shot out from his cape, and tossed the ball towards the boy, where it rolled to his feet. The man tipped his hat and disappeared into the fog. His friends, who were standing along the sidewalk further down where the man was walking towards, saw no one go by.
That’s Uncle Fred, one of the most famous of Old Louisville’s ghosts. He’s been seen all over the park, sitting on park benches, standing beneath the trees, strolling the grounds that used to be his front lawn, enjoying a cigar.
Perhaps he’s lost in time, like the organ grinder whose music occasionally wafts through the neighborhood from the direction of the park. Or the sound of disembodied children’s voices. This is Central Park, the heart of haunted Old Louisville. It’s where the neighborhood began, and it’s our home for the next 24 hours.
Can you find chills on a hot summer day in haunted Old Louisville?
It’s the Fourth of July. Down on the riverfront, there’s an official firework show. It seems Louisville loves their fireworks. The whole town is lighting up the sky, and well into the night. In Old Louisville it feels like we’re surrounded by a celebration, but the street we walk down is dark. Quiet.
In the latter part of the 19th century, Old Louisville was the countryside, but still walkable to downtown. The DuPont family decided this would be an ideal place for their country estate, so they bought one. And put their stamp on it.
Now an upscale bed and breakfast, DuPont Mansion lies behind us and it’s where we’re staying for the night. The caretaker is on the top floor, but otherwise we have the place to ourselves.
We’d read about the house, and about the haunting. Not by the DuPont brother who lived in the house. That was Antoine Biederman DuPont. Instead, the ghost that haunts the DuPont mansion is said to be Biederman’s older brother, Alfred Victor.
Alfred Victor, or Uncle Vic as he was known, was the head of the DuPont family here in Louisville. The DuPonts made their fortune in gunpowder and chemical, and today the brand still exists
Uncle Vic had many successful ideas. He developed a business selling spring water, and put a fountain at the top of the spring, where people would congregate. Which could have had been one of the inspirations for the fountain at St. James Court.
Unfortunately, spring water isn’t all that was bubbling up with Uncle Vic. Or spilling over. It seemed he had a fondness for certain houses, which employed a number of women. One of these houses was run by a madame by the name of Maggie Payne. She found herself in a delicate condition, one which she believed Uncle Vic was not only able to help with, but somewhat responsible for.
Uncle Vic disagreed. When he did, she shot him through the heart, without further discussion, on the front porch of the Galt House. In broad daylight. As that wasn’t any way for a DuPont to go, the cause of death was listed as a heart attack. Which technically was true, and it was an idea the police supported. So Maggie was never prosecuted. And it was several years before the truth came out.
Before he let his genitalia get the better of him, Alfred Victor DuPont built several houses near his brother Biederman in Old Louisville, but never lived in any of them. Even before Biederman moved in, the two brothers decided to to open the front lawn for public events.
That built a sense of community, and endeared them to their neighbors, partly because they did this for free. At the same time, they made a profit shuttling people to the events as they controlled public transportation in that part of town. Humanitarianism is a not only good for the soul, but for the bottom line as well.
The edge of the countryside seemed like a good idea to many of the wealthy folks in Louisville, and pretty soon, the DuPont had neighbors, and before long, a neighborhood. With Uncle Vic’s death, the haunted Old Louisville was born.
Haunted Old Louisville’s upscale accomodation, the DuPont Mansion
We woke up on the Fourth of July and headed to Louisville, about a three hour drive with stops, arriving early in the afternoon. Navigating downtown Louisville and finding Old Louisville is surprisingly easy. We pulled up right in front of the DuPont Mansion with no problems at all.
Our host met us at the door and showed us in. There was wine, cookies and snacks waiting for us, and he gave us a tour of the place.
Lisa brought up ghosts with him, and he verified what we’d heard. Mainly objects moving around, footsteps and of course, the occasional whiff of cigar smoke. All in all, not that spectacular of a haunting.
But the room was spectacular.
The mansion was built in 1879 in an Italianate style. The first thing you notice when you walk through the doors, are the ceilings, which on the first floor are a towering 14 foot tall. The doors and windows are ten foot, and you either feel very small, or you grow to fit the room.
The word opulence comes to mind, though it’s likely more modestly decorated today than in the DuPont’s day.
We ended up in the Alfred I. DuPont suite, which overlooks Fourth Street. Looking out those windows was perhaps the best chance to time travel in Old Louisville. Cast your eyes to the street and you see cars and the twenty-first century. But look out at the second stories of the house facing you, and you’re seeing Old Louisville from more than a century before.
The bathroom is larger than most of the rooms in our house, and has a Jacuzzi which fits two. Even the crapper within the bathroom has a privacy door.
We got settled in and I wanted to get right to it and explore the neighborhood. I had a list of houses I wanted to shoot, all reputed to be haunted, meticulously organized by walks. But unfortunately, planned indoors, in the air conditioning.
As I came down the steps, I saw a beam of light streaming in through the front window, striking the glass top of a table in one of the front parlors below. With fine glass you’ll get more exquisite reflections, and this was no exception. The light danced above the table, a foot or so from the glass. It wasn’t a steady light, but was dancing in the ether.
I knew it was nothing more than an optical exception, and sure enough, I could capture it on video even. But not a photo. For the photo above I had to grab a frame from the video. Explaining it is a job for science, not the paranormal, but it added a sense of magic to the day, even before I reached the bottom of the stairs.
David Domine, the town crier for haunted Old Louisville
The plethora of Old Louisville ghosts has given the historic district a claim on the title of America’s Most Haunted Neighborhood.
I noticed a long time ago, that there are certain areas, neighborhoods even which seem to be more haunted than others. Old Louisville, Louisville itself and the surrounding area seems to be one of those. Old Louisville is the third largest district of Victorian era houses in the United States. And those are the golden years for houses which scream hauntings.
I’ve just finished reading David Domine’s America’s Most Haunted Neighborhood, and it’s impressive. He tells the “true ghost stories and eerie legends” in a convincing manner, and has a wealth of history to back them up. It’s believable, and most important, his descriptions of the neighborhood makes you want to visit.
And occasionally, gives you a chill.
I look online and find that he’d pretty much cornered the market on haunted Old Louisville. There are a wealth of videos, usually featuring him and stories from his books. He even gives ghost tours, which are recommended by, among others, the New York Times.
But unfortunately, he wasn’t giving tours on July 4th. So all I had was my list, based on his first book. Thanks to David, I had more than enough for a day of walking.
Conrad’s Castle was built in 1895, in a Richardsonian Romanesque style. The man who commissioned it, Theophile Conrad was said to have wanted a castle because he grew used to living in one, growing up in a moated home in France.
After Theophile died in the house in 1905, William Caldwell bought it and restored it with more modern conveniences. William seems to have stuck around in the afterlife and keeps an eye on the place. It’s now a museum and offers tours. Visitors who stray into places where they’re not supposed to go have frequently reported being chastised by a short, old man in period clothes, shaking a finger at them. Another gentleman of a similar description was seen smoking a cigar on the balcony, where gentlemen used to smoke, during a recent wedding reception.
His wife also died in the house, and is known to make appearances as well. Most memorably, getting an employee of the museum to close the upstair windows when it was raining in. It seems the Caldwells still care deeply about their house.
Courting heat stroke whilst looking for haunted Old Louisville
Make no mistake about it. July in the Ohio River Valley sucks. It’s not just the heat, it’s heat and the humidity. Air so thick you could cut it with a knife, and enough heat to bake it like a cake.
Old Louisville relies heavily on shade to keep the houses cool. While many neighborhoods chop down trees to lower the cost of homeowner’s insurance, here they recognize the value of shade trees.
Originally the DuPont house stood above the park, unhindered by neighbors. The park was simply the font lawn then.
Biederman DuPont had seven kids and didn’t mind them mingling with the other neighborhood children. Not only would he open his lawn to his children’s friends, but they’d frequently come into the big house on the hill to warm up in winter.
School picnics were held on the lawn, a tennis court was put in and there was sledding. Then came the Southern Exposition of 1883-1887, which was to be held adjacent to DuPont Square, as what would become Central Park was then known. That brought the neighborhood to the attention of the world.
The Southern Exposition means growth for haunted Old Louisville
That Biederman DuPont was chairman of the Exposition committee might have had some bearing on the choice of location. At any rate, Old Louisville certainly gained from the experience.
In 1883, Louisville had grown nearly to the edge of the neighborhood. Transportation to Old Louisville was provided by a mule driven trolley ran by the DuPonts.
Being in the countryside meant there was room for a large structure. The Exposition Center that they built was said to be the largest wooden structure in the world in its day.
The 13 acre building was illuminated by almost 5,000 electric lights, at a time when most people had never seen a single electric bulb. The display spilled out to the adjacent park and midway. This was courtesy of Thomas Edison, who once lived in Louisville and at the time, this was the largest concentration of electric lights anywhere in the world.
A local reminisced about after visiting as a kid … “Ask anyone who was a child back in the ’80s and he will tell you about that breath-taking experience. For no matter how often he saw it (and families went over and over again), the miracle was always the same. There was a quiet that covered the waiting crowds. Then an amber glow began to seep through the dusk, brightening, brightening—until what had been familiar corridors of the big barn-like building became for him aisles of blinding light and beauty, touched with the gold of heaven.”
Excerpt from Fond Recollection, Melville O. Briney, 1949
The president, Chester Arthur showed up for the grand opening of the Southern Exposition. It was a big deal for the midwest, and Louisville in particular. The exposition was only supposed to last three months, but went on for five years.
Central Park bloomed as well, and transformed from a front lawn to a public space. A lake was built for paddle boats. An art museum sprung up, populated with great works acquired by America’s new aristocracy, the wealthy businessman. Regular concerts were held in the newly built amphitheater with big name entertainers. There were fireworks, hot air balloon launches, a race track for bicycles and one of the first roller coasters in the country.
An electric railway, designed by Edison took visitors around the exposition grounds and the park. It inspired local planners, and soon Louisville had one of the best transit systems in the country.
Old Louisville, not even a part of Louisville proper yet, had become renown for innovation, beautiful mansions, and was the place to be for half a decade and then as an opulent neighborhood, for a few years more. It brought fame to the Ohio Valley, and made it highly attractive to those who were looking for a place to live which not only provided a desirable, gentrified country space, but cemented your place in the upper echelons of society.
The expo closes down and Old Louisville Springs up
When the expo center came down, one of the most expensive neighborhoods in Old Louisville sprang up. Where the exposition center stood became St. James Court, with some of the most desirable Victorian era architecture in the country.
In the center of the court stands a fountain, and over the years a boy has been seen there with some regularity, nearly always in winter. He’s a ragamuffin, covered in dirty, raggedly clothes. He usually doesn’t see you and simply disappears.
According to David Domine’s book on haunted Old Louisville, he was a delivery boy, making a run in the dead of winter to the St. James Apartments. By the time he reached the house, he was freezing. He went up to the top floor, and huddled in a corner of the hallway to warm up, and promptly fell asleep, as you’re wont to do when you go from extreme cold to warmth.
A fire broke out below and he died in the blaze. Officially, there were no injuries reported in the fire. But his mother, a Gypsy spoke up and eventually it was acknowledged that the boy had died that day.
But apparently, nobody told him, and so he’s still seen around the fountain cold winter days.
The Walnut Street Baptist Church courted controversy from its beginning at turn of the twentieth century, by flouting site planning rules of all things. A bit later, a creature, or more accurately, a winged humanoid figure was seen flying around the church and neighborhood. Sitings continued at least till the last half of the twentieth century.
It bears a strong resemblance to The Black Flash of Provincetown, Massachusetts, which I’d come across before, and of course the Mothman on Long Island. Both are likely descendants from an earlier urban legend, Spring Heeled Jack who was making the rounds in England in the nineteenth century.
How did a slice of New England architecture end up in Old Louisville? The quintessential haunted house design was built by Jennie Casseday in 1892, and called Jennie Casseday’s Free Infirmary for Women. They served the poor, and often the elderly who couldn’t afford medical care.
In the early part of the twentieth century, it was broken up into apartments. One gentleman who lived there years ago, told David Domine in his America’s Most Haunted Neighborhood book that he lived there in the 1940s, and suffered a hair raising series of hauntings. Enough to call in a priest. It turns out his apartment was where women who died in childbirth were cared for in their final hours, and that the priest had already performed an exorcism there. Twice.
It’s said that it finally worked on the third attempt.
Haunted Old Louisville loves the heat
“How did people live here before air conditioning?” Lisa asks as we’re walking down Sixth street, beside the park. On my shot list, I had written, “stroll down Sixth street”, but it was less of a stroll and more of a sweat splattering slog.
It was only about 96 degrees, but with the humidity, according to the weather service, it felt like 116. I was projectile sweating by the time we reached the end of the sidewalk.
The short answer to her question was high ceilings. Twelve to fifteen foot, like what they have in the DuPont Mansion isn’t unusual for a first floor in Old Louisville. It’s not just opulence. The heat rises, and high ceilings helps. Somewhat.
Also, most of these homes were made of brick, or stone brought from over from Indiana. Walking into our B&B felt like we were walking into a fortress. The idea was to essentially create an above ground cave. The stone walls kept things cooler, and shutters and heavy curtains blocked out the afternoon sun and heat.
But out here, with no parasols to shield us from the sun, it was brutal. We made our way to the end of the block, took a right and went down along the park till across the street, a strange tree stood before us.
The Witch’s Tree
The roots of the Witch’s Tree are said to stretch pretty far back.
When the neighborhood started to spring up, a tree even more impressive and bizarre than the witch’s tree was cut down as part of a May Day celebration. It was said that it had been the place where a coven of witches met, and they were pissed. When the same fate was determined for its sister tree, they made a fuss. And insisted it remain. And so it does. An ancient Maple, gnarled and towering over the corner of south Sixth and Park Avenue.
I have a bit of trouble with this story, and I realize it as soon as I see the tree. It’s covered in tokens that visitors have left, which is a sign that the internet is doing its job. It’s even listed on Google maps. But I don’t believe leaving tokens here is a particularly old practice. Ribbons, the original offering, along with a wish and prayer are great, but too many tokens and they eventually have to be removed.
Also, witches have never been tolerated, especially in the south. You can get by with a lot of bizarre beliefs in Christianity which border on witchcraft. But witches gathering at a tree just off DuPont Square. I can’t buy that.
Whenever I hear something is called a witch’s tree I get excited. Not because I buy into the legends, but these are the trees that are singular enough to spawn such beliefs. And I’m a photographer. I collect witches trees.
The witch’s tree in Louisville is bizarre enough that you can easily understand why it’s so easy to believe.
A golden age comes to a close in Old Louisville, and there goes the neighborhood
We’d only walked a few blocks, but by that point, the sweat was running down the crack of my ass. So we kept moving, and my list of photos I absolutely had to have grew shorter and shorter. Ironically, it was fans and air conditioning that spelled the end of Old Louisville.
The old mansions were built of stone or brick, and it was easy to add electricity. You just ran wires down the old gas pipes, and where you had gas lights you now had electric. But electrical outlets proved another matter. It’s not easy drilling holes and running wires through brick or stone walls.
Electricity brought faster trolleys. And soon enough, the automobile. Which meant those with means could move further from the center of Louisville, where they had a bit more space, and a bit of a breeze.
And in a lot of cases, it was easier, and cheaper to build a home from the ground up than to retrofit the mansions of Old Louisville.
Then came the depression, and it was damned hard to keep up the old homes. Once reserved for upper crust, the houses of Old Louisville took on boarders, low income renters. This is a neighborhood which grumbled when one man built an opulent apartment building. If you couldn’t afford to buy, you had business living there. The depression was a fatal blow, as those who could, moved out to a more segregated area. Not particularly in a racial way, but by economic status.
So a house which once housed a family was broken up into apartments for several families. It became one of the cheapest neighborhoods in town. The crime rate began to go up.
By the sixties, the neighborhood was fully in decline. Entire swaths of what were once some of the most impressive homes in the country fell victim to the wrecking ball. Some for taller buildings which would hold more people. Then came the interstate which cut through the neighborhood, in a particularly savage attack on Old Louisville.
And yet Old Louisville survives
Against all odds, Old Louisville bounced back. Today it’s undergoing a revival. The population is younger, just beginning to come into their own, financially at least. And there still are some of the old families around.
There are blocks which show the poverty that the neighborhood slipped into during the last half of the twentieth century. You’re walking distance from where blood was spilled in protests over the past few years. But here at least, the tribes seem to have reached a truce.
It still has a neighborhood feel, thanks to people going outside from a lack of air conditioning in their third floor apartments. We felt safe walking the streets, as people of all stripes were incredibly friendly.
Albeit somewhat odd. One young man stopped us and asked for a lighter. It was his birthday and some friends had given him some weed he said. He held up what appeared to be an aluminum foil packet of sugar. He asked, so we lit it for him, watched as he reached nirvana and turned down a sample, as I was pretty sure his birthday present was in fact, nothing more than a packet of sugar.
What did people do before air conditioning?
Later that night, we were coming upon the park, a block or so away. It was so humid it was misty. The air was a palpable, living entity. It was like breathing a swamp.
There was a car parked along the street, and two young men on the back, were engaged in a sexual act, just visible through the mist, like soft focus on a camera. We felt bad for interrupting them, nodded and picked up the pace toward the park.
When Old Louisville was in its heyday, there was no air conditioning. No fans. It’s a safe bet that if you knew where to look, there was likely more of this kind of thing than we’ve been led to believe. People are people after all.
It’s easy to step back into time here at night. Streetlights, meant to look like gaslight shot out their rays across the sidewalk of the park. Under the trees was darkness. Ahead, a park bench, perhaps the one where Mr. DuPont was seen from time to time loomed ahead. I caught a whiff of cigar smoke.
Cigar smoke is rather distinctive, different from something like cigarettes or weed even. You don’t mistake it. I asked The Wife if she smelled it. Her sense of smell is still whacked from long Covid, so of course she didn’t. I looked around for a glow, anyone sitting nearby.
Nothing. Then again, it could have wafted from one of the houses surrounding the park. It added to the ambiance, and for a flash, it was easy to believe that any moment, the park bench we ambled towards in the misty night might suddenly be occupied by a gentleman from an earlier age.
It remained empty and having explored the park earlier, we cut across to Fourth street and headed back to the DuPont Mansion.
The role of the porch and why ghosts seem to have an affinity for them
You can only do so much to keep a house cool in the summer in the midwestern river valleys. For those of us with a house not built of stone, it’s when the sun starts to go down that the heat finally infiltrates the house. The humidity rises, so even if the temperature goes down, you don’t notice it inside. It just gets worse.
So you go outside, onto the porch. Think back to the film version of To Kill A Mockingbird. It’s where Atticus Fich spent his nights. That wasn’t just because he loved the sound of crickets. I know how his kids felt trying to go to sleep inside.
Things hadn’t improved much when I was a kid. You stayed out as long as you could, because you knew when you went to bed, you were going to sweat.
We had an attic fan, which draws the heat and humidity into the attic while bringing the cooler air from outside, in. But it’s more complicated than that. And my parents didn’t have Google to find the most efficient way of using one. So all it added was a bit of noise to the sweltering process of going to sleep.
I was a little kid in the sixties, fifty years or so after Old Lousville’s golden age. But a lot of the old traditions remained, even where I lived in southern Illinois. When you walked around the neighborhood in the afternoon, the old folks were outside on the porch.
They all knew your parents, so they knew you. And if you were up to no good, word would get back to the folks. But mostly they were just friendly. So you could go quite a ways and still feel like someone was looking after you if you ran into trouble.
And then there were the houses you scurried by. There was even one in To Kill A Mockingbird, where the old lady sat in her rocking chair, ready to scold the kids, till Atticus intervened and charmed her.
I had one of those in my neighborhood. There were two sisters who lived in a dark green house, on the way to my Granny Bert’s place, just about a block away. They would sit outside in metal rocking chairs, and seldom spoke. But they’d watch and didn’t look approving. Little boys carry around a sachet of guilt, so any disapproving look can hit home.
The house is still there, and to be honest, I’ve never seen anyone live there since the old ladies. Who must have died fifty years ago.
There’s a house like that in Old Louisville as well. But with a twist.
People passing by the brick house which is 1324 and 1326 south Third Street likely aren’t aware of the strange circumstances that led to it being two houses in one.
A wealthy Old Louisvillian had two daughter, who grew up to become spinsters. So he had a house built for them. But the sisters didn’t get along, and maybe that’s why he wanted them out of the house.
Knowing they both liked to sit on the porch, and that this was likely a good time for starting trouble, he offset the porches so they wouldn’t have to see each other.
Since then, people have reported passing by and noticing a strange mist on one of the porches. They stop to look and the mist takes on the shape of a person, sitting in a chair. It slowly forms into something recognizable, and old woman, in a rocking chair.
She looks right at you, then fades away.
It could be the mist. It could be that someone saw To Kill A Mockingbird and decided to create their own legend. After all, having grown up in a culture a lot like that of the story, I’ve always seen the movie version as a horror film. The scene with old lady could easily lead to urban legends, when old ladies on porches had been a common thing to see.
Or it could be one of two sisters finally gets to come back, without having to share the porch.
Alone in the night
The heat took its toll. We had planned a romantic evening, but by bedtime, we were both knackered. She opted for bed, I opted for one last walk outside and a smoke while she got ready.
I tried time traveling. It’s fairly easy in a neighborhood like this, where the architecture is authentic to an earlier time. But the drawback is parking. Cars along the streets, block the view that early families would have had.
You can’t escape the twenty-first century with a line of gleaming metal lining both sides of the street.
And the heat was stifling, even as it was going on midnight. The fireworks were still sounding off around me. By then it resembled a war zone, with the bigger explosions sounding like canon in the distance, the firecrackers like rifles, which was continuous.
For a moment I wondered if the long threatened revolution had started. But the explosions sounded friendly so so I headed for the room, and for bed.
It was a flower that caught my eye, earlier that afternoon. There was some Phlox growing in a flower bed which was in need of some serious attention. I snapped a photo before looking up, and there, looming above me was the church.
It’s a brick building, Romanesque Revival, built about 1891 and named after a firebrand preacher, the Stuart Robinson Memorial Presbyterian Church. It was in use up till sometime in the 1990s. And it’s obviously sat empty for a number of years, overgrown and looking a bit wild for this genteel neighborhood.
I told Lisa I’d been in there before. It was a wedding, or baptism, some kind of ceremony, and I was there with another guy. We were wearing suits. I remembered talking to the minister by the side door where we stood. And I remembered going outside just after that, for a smoke perhaps, but we exited out the door on the other side, facing Magnolia street. I remembered it was an amazing door and as we turned the corner, sure enough, there was the door from the dream.
I was gobsmacked. It was exactly as I remembered, but I have never, at least in this state of consciousness, been inside a church in Louisville, Kentucky. Okay once, and would be later tonight, but this certainly wasn’t it. I’d never walked through that door, but I remembered being inside as clear as day.
It’s easy to jump to some past life explanation, or something equally esoteric. But I knew instinctively the answer.
I have very vivid dreams. I also remember my dreams very well. To the point that sometimes I forget if something actually happened, or if it was just a dream. All it takes to work its way into a dream is for me to see something.
And I’d certainly walked past here before, and would have noted those doors. Shortly before we left for Louisville, I was going through my Louisville galleries and found I’d been in this neighborhood, twice before. Ten and twelve years ago.
I met a friend there, the same friend I was with in my dream, and we walked around the neighborhood, as I’d heard about the architecture and I’m into time travel.
So the dream was easily explained. What wasn’t easily explained though, is how nearly all the buildings on my newly created haunted house list, based on Mr. Domine’s book, I’d already shot, a decade before. Before I had any inclination they were haunted. For one reason or another, they just caught my attention.
Called to me if you will. There were even haunted places we didn’t get to on this trip, that I had luckily shot before.
Old Louisville might not haunt everyone. But it certainly haunted me.
America’s most haunted neighborhood?
When you research Old Louisville ghosts, you’ll come across a phrase fairly often. Old Louisville has been designated America’s most haunted neighborhood.
David Domine’s book, makes a compelling case for the title. But David’s also damned good at marketing, and it doesn’t hurt that the designation is the title of his book. So it’s more of a claim, than a designation. At least outside the borders of Old Louisville.
I can’t say Old Louisville is America’s Most Haunted Neighborhood. It’s better than that. The vast size ensures a lot of stories, but other areas have more per square foot.
What makes Old Louisville better than its title, is a combination of things. The architecture, the history, the people, and yeah, the hauntings all tie the place together. If you’re looking to step back into the past, and to get a chill doing it, Old Louisville is someplace you need to go.
Another book on haunted Old Louisville poses an interesting question
I found another book on Old Louisville on the DuPont Mansion bookshelves and started reading. Oddly enough, one of the first chapters was on the Pink House. And it painted a somewhat different point of view than Domine’s book.
The book was N. David William’s Secrets of Old Louisville, and it not only cast doubt on some of Domine’s histories, but actually offered a more logical explanation. The Pink House wasn’t pink because it was a brothel. The author had a list of people who owned it dating to its construction. It was pink because for a while, pink was all the rage.
Yet even the author of that book pointed out, the story of the gentleman’s club/brothel is a better tale.
And there I realized Domine’s dilemma in writing on haunted Old Louisville and its ghosts.
They’re good stories, and many have been around for generations. I frequently come across stories myself which are historically dubious, but great stories all the same. And when it comes to the supernatural, who is to say what is real and what is imagination?
And what do you, dear reader, want to hear. A skeptical voice, or a story which might send shivers up your spine?
For myself, I’m after the latter. I don’t want to be fed bullshit, but if you can disguise the taste well enough that I swallow it, then I applaud you.
So yeah, Mr. Domine is trying to sell books. But they’re good books, are likely pretty accurate, and they help bring people to Old Louisville, which helps pull the community together. That’s far and beyond what most writers of supernatural travel, myself included aspire to.
Time traveling in haunted Old Louisville
It’s not always for the hauntings that I visit places like Old Louisville. After all, I’d been here twice with no notion of ghosts at all. I’m into time travel.
Here’s how it works. You go to a place like this … dusk will work, the night is better. To do it in daylight is an advanced skill, though heat and humidity helps. Particularly if you’re approaching sunstroke territory.
You narrow your focus, your field of vision, to a space where there are no cars, no power lines, no glaring street lights. No traffic. And you find one of these houses, at just the right angle and suddenly, if you let it, the past disappears. It’s just you and the architecture.
More than a century ago, someone looked up from this very spot and saw exactly what you’re seeing now.
Once you’re back in that era, it’s easy enough to see the people as well, if you’re inclined to such things. If your grandparent told you about the ghost of the old lady in the rocker, you’ll be more inclined to see it.
That’s not to say it’s not there. But who can say if it’s the old lady in the wrong era, or the person seeing her?
In other words, is she the ghost, or are you the ghost?
I’ve been to Old Louisville in an icy winter, a humid summer and a gorgeous autumn day. Each has its own supernatural charm. But in the summer, when the humidity is so thick most people would mistake it for a mist, I think it appears its most haunted.
Late at night, alone, there’s enough there to give you a chill, even on the hottest night. Read David Domine’s books beforehand and that chill is even easier to find, as you walk past a house, barely lit, but well enough to see a staircase where a ghost is known to come down now and then.