menu search

An Unexpected Disaster In 1977 Left Kentucky Heartbroken

The community of Southgate was once home to a phenomenal high class country club known as the Beverly Hill Country Club. Along Route 27, the club sat atop a grassy hill starting in the 1930s. The social elitists frequented the club, spending their evenings dining and dancing the night away under crystal chandeliers and wandering up and down te designer spiral staircase, until the unthinkable happened—and an unexpected disaster in Kentucky turned this 5-star country club into a pile of ashes and rubble.


Like the first owner, Dick Schilling refused to sell or allow his dazzling club to be tainted by mobsters. He refused to make a deal… but on May 28th, 1977, everything changed. One year later, Nick Clooney reviewed the tragedy.

One year after the fire, people were still mourning the loss of loved ones and the horrible incident that took them far too early. Rumors started flying that it was a mob hit, which just added to the relative’s woes.

The sadness was overwhelming as people searched for their missing loved ones among the ashes and debris of part of the country club. Identifying the bodies was probably the most horrific part of the incident for some. To others, it was the tale told by employees about unknown men painting a flammable substance on the walls.

Once the fire started, things swiftly got out of control. This footage is from the day of the horrible disaster in Kentucky. The actual history will open your eyes to the intensity of the situation that took over 165 lives.

A tiny blaze started somehow, smoke began to billow, and things swept out of control faster than anyone expected. The higher end materials were blazing fierce and hot. (Unfortunately, there were not “concrete” fire safety rules in place and only one staff member tried to direct people to safety.) The panicked crowd did not pay a lot of attention. The confusion and chaos were reasons the loss of life was so great. The madness and death caused by the fire resulted in the installment of better fire safety regulations statewide, in order to prevent such a massive loss of life in the future.

There are different theories on how this fire started, but the most common was reported by an employee. The staff member reported seeing two strange men painting some “flammable” substance on a wall where the fire began. This occurred not long after several strong arms tried to convince the owner to give the mob a piece of the action at the club. That incident was also witnessed by an employee.

This unexpected disaster in Kentucky was truly heartbreaking for all involved. The last of the great supper clubs is just a memory now, as are more than 165 of its members that died in the flames. Our state is no stranger to disasters, but the Beverly Hills Supper Club tragedy held the biggest loss of life because of errors. Here are more disturbing disasters that took place in the Bluegrass State.

Jenn Shockley
I am somewhat a cliche'. I grew up running around barefoot on a farm in Kentucky. I love writing, art, sunshine, all animals and my incredibly patient husband, who tolerates my "crazy animal lady" side.