The Spirits That Don’t Want to Leave Kentucky

Southgate House in Newport, Kentucky is a nearly 200 year old 4 story brick mansion sitting atop a hill, overlooking the Ohio River, the harbor area and parts of downtown Newport. A local lawyer and Senator Richard Southgate built this fantastic mansion in 1814. The original Southgate Estate was a full city block in size but with years acreage was sold off.

Richard and Ann entertained many distinguished people among them Abraham Lincoln before he became the 16th President of the USA. Before heading out to fight for Texas’s independence in the Battle of San Jacinto, a whole company of soldiers led by Captain Sherman enjoyed an evening at Southgate House.

The Southgate children lived full and productive lives. One son William became a lawyer, a Kentucky State Representative and a U.S. Congressman in1837. Another son, Edward, became a Methodist Minister. Their daughter, Ann married a surgeon, Dr. Nathanial Shaler and their son Nathaniel Southgate Shaler, became a noted geologist, teacher and historian.

Richard Southgate died at the age of 83 in 1857. He willed his house to his daughter Francis Parker. She modernized Southgate adding an entrance tower and widow’s walk and the Mansard roof. The house then passed on to her daughter Julia in 1869 with the understanding the Francis would live the rest of her life in the house.

Julia and Regular Army Officer James Thompson’s son, Brigadier General John Thompson, an 1882 West Point graduate, was born here in 1860. Brigadier General John Thompson invented the Thompson machine gun in 1920, as well as, other automatic rifles which revolutionized modern warfare. After he died in 1940 his gun was revised and used in WW II by Allied forces.

In 1888, Southgate House was sold to Fannie and Lewis Maddux and in 1894 the first meeting of The Keturah Moss Taylor Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution took place in the living room of Southgate. In 1914, Southgate House was sold to The Knights of Columbus Home Company of Campbell County. They made improvement by adding a brick porch and a large room in the rear of the house which had to be rebuilt after a fire in 1948.

At present Southgate House is used as a place to experience up and coming rock and roll bands or musicians, as well as, more established rock artists. After the rebuilding in 1948 the basement ballroom was enlarged, building a two-level, horse-shoe balcony which is on the basement/first floor level located at the back of the house. This ballroom area is perfect for larger performances, often featuring “an eclectic blend of local, national, and international performers.” Today the first floor is called Junies Lounge, which is the main bar, billiard room and offers juke box music. On the second floor is a room known as The Parlour which is used for smaller concerts and is considered by many to be the best concert room in this mansion and the third floor has become an art gallery.

According to legend sometime after 1857 a woman called Elizabeth, who was working for the Parker or Maddux family used to go up to the widow’s walk on the roof of the mansion to watch the riverboat her husband worked on arrive and leave the port. While watching one day she saw the riverboat explode. Thinking her husband was dead she promptly hung herself. However her husband was alive because he had missed the boat that morning. So it seems that this unhappy entity may still be found at the mansion.

Some think perhaps the female entity may be Francis Parker, who may still be very much attached to her home. The front door has been known to open and close by itself in the evening hours as the spirit goes about her business. One Christmas, there was someone, who didn’t approve of the Christmas tree being set up between the French doors. Suddenly this tree was pushed 4 feet across the floor to the corner of the room without disturbing a single ornament. The female entity either Elizabeth or Francis may be the one who plays the piano located upstairs.

Sometime in the past history of one of the families, that lived here a little boy died of a disease or accident and now an apparition of a six year old boy may be seen throughout the house. It seems that knocking on walls may be his way of letting people know he’s there.

A soldier who died during the Civil War appears to have some attachment to the mansion. He has appeared in solid form wearing a Confederate uniform and has even carried on conversations with the patrons. The two spots where he likes to appear are the men’s room on the first floor and the landing on the 2nd floor. Sometimes a man’s laughter is heard in the first floor bar as well.

A paranormal investigator sitting at a table with his girlfriend in Junies Lounge had the experience of having his beer slide across the table by itself and land in his lap. Besides having a musical entity playing the piano when no one else is around, hearing a man’s laughter and knocking on walls the staff have also heard the mumbling of disembodied voices.

So for some real great entertainment head for Southgate House and be treated also to some unexpected surprises.

When you can find a genuine haunted place where they sell tickets to take you on tour that’s quite scary stuff. The Waverly Hill Sanitarium is located on the edge of Louisville, Kentucky, in a hilly area with very nice homes, right next to a golf course. The road leading to the sanitarium is found on the west side of the golf course.

The climate and water/land geography qualities of Louisville, Kentucky offered the perfect conditions to grow the TB bacteria which resulted in whole families coming down with this very contagious disease which was dominant from 1910 – 1936. The disease remained a threat until the discovery of the vital antibiotic which defeated it. TB was called the “white plague” it eventually destroyed the lungs slowly suffocating people. It also sometimes infected bones, the brain, the eyes and larynx.

In 1910 a small 140 bed Waverly Hills Sanitarium was opened outside of Louisville on an isolated hilly area where there was plenty of fresh air and a caring staff to try to nurse the afflicted back to health. By the 1920s TB the “white plague” was out of control and so in 1926 a five story, stone gothic structure with 500 beds was built to try to combat the disease. The Sanitarium was a self-contained city offering everything a person needed. Having no antibiotics available to fight TB the standard treatment revolved around natural cures, lots of rest, good diet, plenty of sun and fresh air. Because 47% of the patients here were already in the advanced, last stages of TB around 60,000 people died here.

Since dead bodies were still considered to be contagious when a person died here of TB their body was slit and drained of all fluids. Then the bodies were sent by cart down an underground tunnel which ran 500 feet underground to the receiving station down the hill. There the surviving family members took them or they were cremated. When in 1943 microbiologist Albert Schatz discovered Streptomycin TB was finally defeated. So in 1962 the Sanitarium and all 29 acres were sold to a private owner who set up the Woodhaven Geriatrics Sanitarium. Getting a reputation for patient abuse the sanitarium was closed down in 1980. From 1980 to 1998 the building slipped into disrepair and ruin. It was finally sold to people who wanted to restore the place and preserve it.
In 1999 the “Awakening of Waverly Manor” began with the lobby, first floor and east wing being opened to the public for tours and an annual Halloween party event was started.

Approaching the building from the long driveway lined with trees gives one chills and the building itself gives off uneasy vibes. It is one spooky place. Many of the patients who died here weren’t quite ready to go to the other side. They were hoping to survive. Medical staff sometimes caught TB from their patients. One nurse is known to have hung herself on the very top floor. Years later this mixture of unhappy entities was joined by those from the geriatric wards who died from age having suffered through all sorts of aging diseases and brain deterioration.

On the very dark 4th floor people taking tours have seen shadow people and doors have banged shut unexpectedly. These shadow people don’t like intruders and once when 3 teens broke into the building they found themselves surrounded by these shadowy entities and they couldn’t escape. They were finally rescued by the building’s guards. These shadow people are seen a lot in the dark hallways, in the rooms, moving down the hallways and looking at the living. Sometime full apparitions are seen and sometimes just a pair or two eyeballs appear. A shadow child paranormal investigators call Timmy is not afraid to come close.

Apparitions are seen throughout the building, Cafeteria and the 3rd floor. An entity of a young girl in a blue dress with matted hair and no eyes carries a round object with her and has shown up in pictures taken by photographers and paranormal investigators. A young boy also seen in pictures carries a leather ball and has been seen with a man apparition on the third floor. There are those who have been seen looking out of windows. A tour guide told the story of when the building had just been purchased and they were standing in a large room on the first floor an apparition in a white uniform materialized and they quickly left the building. On the top of the building where patients with TB in their brains were housed, one ghost hunter described seeing a pair of legs walking through the room in the film that is shown at the beginning of the tour.

Shoe and footprints have been found in the shower room. The living feel touches and tugs and being brushed by a ghost dog. Some people have been pushed and others have had the feeling of being watched. There are freezing cold spots especially in the old morgue where the bodies of TB patients were drained and there are recorded EVP’s (Electronic Voice Phenomena).

Definitely not a place for the ultra sensitive and nervous but fascinating for those who believe.

copyright Rasma Raisters

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