1. The Brown Hotel
The Brown may be a four-star historic hotel, but that doesn’t stop ghosts from haunting here! John Graham Brown, the hotel’s founder, once lived on the 15th floor of the building, which is now used only for storage. It sounds like Mr. Brown never left; most of the paranormal activity reported here occurs on the 15th floor, where staff often see disembodied footprints appear on the dusty floor, hear sounds of furniture being moved, and even smell the faint wisp of cigar smoke! The elevator is also said to stop randomly at the 15th floor, even when it is headed elsewhere.
2. Louisville Palace Theater
There are several ghosts that haunt this historic theater in downtown Louisville. The Palace was opened in 1928 and the apparition of a man in 1930s era clothing has been been spotted in the balcony, a spooky faceless woman walks the mezzanine lobby’s grand staircase in 1940s garb, and a former theater employee (said to have died from either a heart attack or a fall down a backstage staircase) is sometimes seen up in the projection room. Maintenance workers in the theater have heard voices in the empty theater and seen their tools move unexpectedly. The Ladies Parlor seems to be haunted by a young child, who is often heard giggling and slamming doors in the restroom, and one employee has even reported seeing a small pair of feet in one of the stalls!
3. Cave Hill Cemetery
By day, Cave Hill Cemetery is a truly beautiful spot to visit… but by night, this historic Victorian-era graveyard gets a little creepy. Cave Hill Cemetery was established in 1848 and is the final resting place of Civil War soldiers from both the Union and Confederate Armies. Some of the most common ghostly sights are glowing green orbs that hover over headstones, but unusually cold winds and disembodied whispers are also frequently reported here.
4. The Seelbach Hilton
The Seelbach Hilton was constructed in 1903, so it has had plenty of time to gather a few spooky stories. It was once one of Louisville’s most lavish hotels, but now it might just be the most haunted. Visitors report hearing footsteps running through empty halls; more specifically, the distinct sound of footsteps on WOODEN floors… but the halls of The Seelbach have been carpeted for years.
4:00 a.m. seems to be an active “witching hour” here, as both guests and hotel staff routinely experience TVs popping on unexpectedly with the volume cranked all the way up. That’s something we definitely don’t want to wake up to!
5. The Belle of Louisville
It appears that Captain Ben Winters never left this beautiful historic steamboat! In 1948, Winters died in his captain’s quarters from a heart attack, but he’s not the only possible spirit aboard. Two crew members also suffered tragic deaths here; one man was crushed in a mechanical accident and another was killed while doing maintenance work on the paddlewheel that powers the boat.
Some employees aboard The Belle have spoken of unusually cold spots on the upper deck of the boat and ghostly figures wandering the deck and halls in the early morning hours. One man even reporting a close encounter with a clearly defined apparition of Captain Winters while working in the wheelhouse where Winters passed away! Several ghost hunters and paranormal investigators have come to explore these occurrences and often record seeing unusual electromagnetic spikes in their equipment.
6. Old Louisville
The Old Louisville historic district is considered one of the most haunted neighborhoods in the country! Massive preservation efforts to protect the original architecture in this old Victorian neighborhood, which began construction in the 1870s, might contribute to the ghost stories here, as not much has changed visually since the spirits of former residents left. Several houses are said to be haunted by past owners and some of the public structures even offer ghost tours!
7. First Church of Christ Scientist
One of the more famous haunted spots in Old Louisville is the First Church of Christ Scientist. “The Lady of the Stairs” is often as the apparition of a beautiful young woman, crying as she paces the steps and between the columns in front of the church.
Unlike many tales of mysterious, unnamed spirits, the identity of “The Lady of the Stairs” is actually known; she is Miss G, a member of the prominent Guthright family who lived in the neighborhood in the early 1900s. Stories say that she fell in love with a soldier named Herbert Fullerton Dickson; however, her parents did not approve of the relationship and tried to pressure her to marry a wealthier suitor. Miss G and Dickson would meet secretly on the steps of the church, planning to elope in Chicago.
On the night they planned to run away together, Dickson didn’t show up. Miss G waited, pacing the stairs. She was heartbroken, believing he had abandoned her. Death records show that Dickson had actually contracted the Spanish Flu and died at Camp Zachary Taylor, but the news had not yet reached Miss G. After spending a long night waiting in the cold, she also contracted influenza and passed away, never knowing what truly happened to her beloved soldier. Today, she continues to pace the steps, waiting for her fiancé to arrive.
8. Waverly Hills Sanatorium
Many old hospitals are said to be haunted due to the larger numbers of deaths in such places, but Waverly Hills Sanatorium is known as one of the most haunted places in the entire country! The former tuberculosis hospital was opened in 1910 and records show that more than 63,000 patients, doctors, and nurses have died from the highly contagious and deadly disease that had reached epidemic proportions in the late 1800s and early 1900s before life saving antibiotic treatments had been developed. Deaths were so common that there was even a "body chute" and underground tunnel built to transport corpses out of the building to avoid disturbing other patients. Though disease (and some of the dangerous and painful early treatment methods) took the lives of many who came to Waverly Hills, suicides were not uncommon in patients who realized the severity of their afflictions and in hospital staff who witnessed death on such a massive scale every single day.
With such a tragic history, it’s no wonder that Waverly Hills seems to be absolutely crawling with ghosts and restless spirits. The 5th floor is one of the most active areas, especially in room 502, where at least two nurses are said to have committed suicide. Hundreds of paranormal investigators have come to explore every inch of this "hot spot," and the hospital has been featured on dozens of popular ghost hunting TV shows. Some of the most common experiences reported here are disembodied whispers, the sound of footsteps moving through empty rooms, heavy doors slamming, and shadowy humanoid shapes floating through hallways.
There are several different Ghost Tours offered at Waverly Hills on Friday and Saturday nights from March through August, so if you are brave enough to enter this haunted spot after the sun goes down, you can take both public and private guided trips ranging from 2-hour walkthroughs to 8-hour full-blown paranormal investigations!
Although some of these stories are pretty sad, it seems like many of Louisville’s most famous ghosts aren’t out to hurt you. Whether the spirits are trapped here or just never left, we’re glad they aren’t causing trouble. If you are still unconvinced of their presence or just want to gather up some evidence on your own, you are welcome to visit these eight spots around the city – just don’t forget to report back to us if you have any unique experiences!