Kentucky’s Home to the Largest and Most Haunted Victorian Neighborhood in America
Old Louisville is the largest section of preserved Victorian homes in the world. Each one of these houses is an artistic work of architecture with a story. Sometimes these tales are told by the original occupants, as they appear and disappear around current residents. Belgravia Court began in the late 1800s with land owners building Victorian mansions in a variety of unique styles, uncommon in Louisville at the time. As a matter of fact, some of the original landlords loved the designs so much, they decided not to leave.
In most cases, the unique presence just adds to the ambiance of the beautiful community. However, modern owners/renters might find these residential spirits disquieting as they go along their daily routines.
Odd things are relatively common all throughout the area. Lights go on and off, shadows appear where they should not exist, and people appear and disappear. This is a neighborhood with an unusually intense energy and both a festive and dark past. Not far from the river, Old Louisville was the gathering place of new and old money, creating a thriving community of designer Victorian mansions for the era. River trade was at an all-time high and celebratory parties and balls were frequent, at least till Tuberculosis struck.
This disease was unkind to Old Louisville, like anywhere else. Entire infected families were moved for treatment. Meanwhile, their glorious mansions were re-occupied, or just sold. Perhaps that is why some spirits tend to linger.
The Pink Palace:
This 1891 pale Chateauesque detailed, Eclectic Victorian mansion mimics the beautiful French Chateaus of that era, including the pointy steeples protruding from the scalloped roof. Inside one will find a double arch framed staircase connecting all floors, beautiful Victorian designs, parquet floors and observation windows with a panoramic view of the area.
It began as a Gentlemen’s Club and Casino in red brick, not a pale pink mansion. Locals could sit, smoke cigars, drink brandy, and converse. The more unscrupulous men could enjoy local ladies of the evening in one of the upstairs rooms. A few years later, a southern gent named Avery bought it as a private family home. He sold it in 1910 and the new owners painted it pink. Avery decided to stick around, but he doesn’t come out often.
He appears as a white-haired gentleman, seemingly right before tragedy strikes. One woman reported Avery appearing while she bathed, causing her to spring from the bath just as a cinder block burst through the window. Another tale has Avery appearing in a kitchen moments before it burst into flames due to faulty wiring. People flee when they see him, which tends to save them from disaster. Though he appears to be a harbinger of disaster, often lives are saved by Avery’s presence.
1435 South 4th Street, the Old Sanatorium:
This beautiful mansion is part of Millionaire’s Row and has obscenely beautiful architecture. It also had at least one body buried in the wine cellar during recent years. Now some people are comparing it to American Horror Story’s Hotel… however, I find that a bit of a stretch. Though beautiful, this home does have a dark history.
There is an ominous energy at 1435, and some locals won’t go near it at night, according to WHAS. In the early 1900s, a doctor with questionable ethics purchased the property, turning it into a sanitarium. Inadequate care was a disease, causing several residents to die during the 1920s and 1930s. During the 1960s, a nurse purchased 1435, leasing rooms to the local unsavory, drug addicts and prostitutes. She was beaten near death by a tenant in the early 90s, later dying from her wounds. Her spirit, along with several shadowy figures are said to frequent the property. The man who purchased it around 2006 brutally killed a sex partner, burying him in the wine cellar. The last death took place in 2012, when a homeless man was found propped nearby.
“Troubled Little Girl”
The owner found a hidden panel near the fireplace, revealing an old photo of a young girl in white. Not long afterward, there came a pounding on the door. Oddly, no one was there, but footsteps were heard pattering past them into the mansion. Since then, a girl of about 8-years-old can be seen sprinting about the St. James area. Soon thereafter, an elderly women visited, claiming to have grown up there. Her family had once owned the mansions and rented rooms during the Depression. She entertained the newest owners with tales, including that of a young mother and her 8-year-old daughter. The girl was said to have “problems”, and was kept locked in her room. However, one day, the child sprinted past her mother, running into the street. She was struck by a car and died. Now she runs whereever she wants in Old Louisville.
During the winter months, a small boy appears around the Belgravia area, often times near the fountain. He is said to be in poor attire, likely from the Cabbage District (What was once the poor part of town.), and his face is covered in soot and ash. A 6 floor building was built in 1897 for high end apartments, but the elitist of the area felt their own property value would decrease. Complaints were adamant, but February 4th, 1912, a questionable fire struck St. James Flats. The damage was severe, but all the wealthy apartment owners got out safely. One young delivery boy who’d brought groceries to the top floor was found dead in a corner. The building owner only renovated a portion of the building back, leaving off the top 3 floors to appease the local upper class. The delivery boy is still trying to run those groceries, though he’ll never get paid.
“A Proper Victorian Lady”
A lovely women clad in the finest of Victorian attire will sometimes appear on the corner of 4th and Hill, by Belgravia Court. She simply looks about, and continues on her way, not speaking or bothering anyone. This is fine till you happen to be working in a business on that corner, and she dashes right in through a locked door before fading away. (She’s probably off for tea and cakes with some of the socialites of her time.)
“Shadows of Belgravia”
Strolling down Belgravia it is not uncommon to see shadows appear and disappear without reason. These are just the spirits of those who once walked these courts as the highest of high society. It is also not uncommon to see a few orbs, especially if you happen to be snapping pictures like we were on this day. The orbs do not always come out in the day, but we were blessed this day.
Old Louisville has been featured in multiple books, such as “Phantoms of Old Louisville”, and on shows such as Ghost Hunters. It has also been featured on the news and in other media, and for good reason. It is beautiful, and it is haunted. Occasionally, people live in the neighborhood and don’t experience anything odd. However, most of us have seen or felt a few out of the ordinary moments over the years. This community is a vortex for unique spiritual energies, Kentucky history and beautiful architecture. There are many stories to tell and incredible works of architecture to be seen in Old Louisville–so expect more in the future.
Have you, or would you ever want to visit Old Louisville? We love the ambiance of the area, and many of these images were taken during a recent visit. Please feel free to share your own Old Louisville experiences or photos.