I went for a ghost walk around Old Louisville

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I went for a ghost walk around Old Louisville

The Conrad-Caldwell House Museum is believed to be a deeply haunted place in Old Louisville. Photo by EP Presnell

The Conrad-Caldwell House Museum is believed to be a deeply haunted place in Old Louisville. Photo by EP Presnell

EP Presnell

The Conrad-Caldwell House Museum is believed to be a deeply haunted place in Old Louisville. Photo by EP Presnell

EP Presnell

EP Presnell

The Conrad-Caldwell House Museum is believed to be a deeply haunted place in Old Louisville. Photo by EP Presnell

EP Presnell, Opinion Editor

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For eight months out of the year, Daniel Domine hosts ghost walks around Old Louisville to visit some of the most haunted sites that he talks about in his book, “America’s Most Haunted Neighborhood.” But for three days out of these eight months, Domine hosts Victorian Ghost Walk, where local actors bring life to the supposed ghosts who haunt the streets of Old Louisville. I attended one of these walks last night, and it was an amazing experience brought to life by both the actors and the simple joy of learning more about Louisville’s history and paranormal side. 

The tour 

The tour begins and ends at the Conrad-Caldwell House Museum, a Victorian style house that is supposedly deeply haunted as well. The tour goes around the mansions and homes in St. James Court and guides you through the homes around Central Park and finally through the park itself before taking you back. In addition to touring these places, we were even lucky enough to walk into four of the homes where ghosts waited to tell their stories, adding to the experience.

The tour was only about ninety minutes long, but every minute was enjoyable, and the walking was so broken up, it didn’t feel that long at all. You spend about five to eight minutes at each location where you listen to a ghost who tells a story. Their storytelling is amazing, but I’ll touch on that later. In addition to the main actors playing the various ghosts we met along the way, there are actors dressed up sitting on benches, standing in between bushes and behind gates.

The ghosts and their stories

The first ghost we met on the tour was Madame Zaneskaya (Deb Raichel Riall) who tells the story of how she was a gypsie when she was alive and would occasionally summon people from beyond the grave. She tells a story about a family whose daughter had died of yellow fever who begged her to summon their daughter so they could give her their final words, but things got dark after the little girl did not come back the same.

After Madame Zaneskaya was the Ice Boy (Carmen Tate/Cassidy Gray) who explained the history behind an apartment building in St. James Court. The building used to be extremely tall much to the dissatisfaction of the people in the surrounding area. One night, there was a fire on the top floor of the building, causing the building to be shortened to three stories. Only one person died in the fire; a little boy who is now referred to as Ice Boy because his body was frozen over the day after the fire. 

Madame Zaneskaya welcomes the tour before she tells them about the horrors of black magic. Photo by EP Presnell

Lady Ross (Liv Butterman) was the next ghost, who tells a melancholy story about how she married an aristocrat and got her dreams of a happy marriage and a happy life taken from her. Her story, though melancholy, does not end too unhappily and is one of the few stories where Louisville was her happy and final resting place.

At West End Baptist Church, we met Jennie Bowman (Allison Whitehouse) who recounts the tragic night when she was cleaning the floors and thieves broke into the building. The thieves stabbed her in the side of the head and left her on the floor of the building. She supposedly haunts the church still to this day. 

Heading to the mansions, in the first home we were able to enter, we met Queen Lucinda (Barbra Winters Martin) who tells us how her husband and son used to treat her like royalty, but after their deaths, the town deemed she was insane and threw her into an asylum where she died.

Queen Lucinda recalls the horrible tragedy that took the lives of both her husband and son. Photo by EP Presnell

Next door we met Bennett Henderson Young (Roman Tate), a soldier in the Civil War who eventually returned to Louisville after falling in love, fighting in the war and taking an entire city hostage. After returning to Louisville, he built the home we visited and achieved many things such as helping fund the Louisville Free Public Library and the first black orphanage in Louisville. 

Across the street we met two people in two different houses. In the first home was Simon Kracht (Tucker Shuff), a man who dug up fresh corpses for the medical school to use. He eventually killed himself. In the second home, we met Annie Whippel (Irena Fletcher), who dabbled in black magic in an attempt to summon a deceased doctor to find a cure for yellow fever in order to help the daughter of the family who employed her.

 

Simon Kracht introduces himself to the tour after dragging a bag of bones down the stairs. Photo by EP Presnell.

On the walk to Central Park, we came across a Stick Witch (Seth Kelly) who told us of the witches that lay ahead for us to meet. We then came across a wise witch (Susan Coleman Layman) and two other witches (Virginia Furse, Askhika Dhaurai/Carmen Tate) who told the story of a tree where witches would meet at monthly. At one point, the owners of the park were going to remove the tree, causing the witches to heed a warning that something devastating would happen 11 months later. Sure enough, 11 months after the owners removed the tree, a tornado destroyed much of Old Louisville and killed around 100 people. 

Last but not least, we met Alfred Victor DuPont (Ronald Lew Harris), the man our school is named after. If you’ve ever wondered who our school is named after, this is kind of golden, in my opinion. The DuPont family was a very rich family from France, and many of them lived in Louisville. Alfred Victor was a bachelor who loved the old Galt House downtown and was very much into… “adult entertainment” as he put it nicely. He took a liking to one woman in particular, one who worked at a club he went to often. One night, about two hours after duPont had spent some time with this woman, she ran to his private room at the Galt House and claimed she was pregnant with his child. When he said he wouldn’t help her financially, she shot him in the stomach. His family was so embarrassed that he had been killed by his prostitute, that they paid the police to cover it up so it looked like he had a heart attack. 

My final thoughts

This tour was a unique and fascinating experience, especially because I didn’t know much about the different ghosts that supposedly haunt this part of the city. Not only did it take us around a beautiful part of the city, it took a simple historical tour and brought it to life without over killing it. At times, I forgot I was even on a historical ghost walk because of how unique and interactive it was without being scary. 

The ghosts were absolutely amazing. Each actor/actress played their part very well, and their storytelling really made the tour complete. While I loved all of them, my favorites had to be Lady Ross, Bennett Henderson Young and Alfred Victor DuPont. 

While this specific tour is only offered for a couple of days, there will be a winter tour where tour-goers will get to enter eight or nine of the mansions in Old Louisville, which is bound to be an exciting time if you get the chance to go.