Scary stroll

La Grange Ghost Tours give a
chilling look at local history

Mayor Carter’s home on
Main Street stirs the imagination

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

LA GRANGE, Ky. (September 2008) – Julia often comes and goes as she pleases. She is not restrained by time, space or boundaries. She is, what you might call, a free spirit.
Many believe that “Julia,” a ghost, resides upstairs at the former Central Hotel and Peak Funeral Home. Owned by La Grange Mayor Elsie Carter, the Main Street structure is thought to be haunted by Julia Crawford, the Peak family’s nanny.
Carter said her home has a “friendly feeling.” That’s one of the reasons she bought it in 1990.

Elsie Carter

Photo by Helen McKinney

Elsie Carter explains the strange
cold sensation she gets in
the kitchen of her home.

All she knew of its previous history was that it had been a funeral home. The front part of the home was built in 1865. The home burned in 1897, and the back part was added in 1905 during the time it was a hotel.
Before the Peaks bought it in 1917, the building had also housed a post office and harness shop. It was a funeral home from 1922 to 1962. For a time, Carter used the majority of it as the Garden Party Restaurant.
This home is one of several buildings on the year’s Spirits of La Grange Ghost Tours. The tours will be held Sept. 5 through Nov. 1. Tours will be given Friday and Saturday nights at 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., with special group tours for 10 or more offered on Thursday nights at 7 p.m.
Tour guide Barbara Edds said that a special event is being offered this year, The Great Ghost Steak Out. A meal will be offered followed by paranormal workshops and investigations to be held inside specific locations. The workshops and investigations will be led by Paranormal Researchers of Ohio Valley, which has investigated all of the locations.
“I think this is the only event of its kind in the area,” said Edds. It is “a very rare opportunity for anyone interested in the paranormal, or just anyone who wonders about experiences they have had that they just couldn’t quite explain.”
Carter said she is not taken in by all of the “ghost” hype. But strange things have happened many times in her home. And since she lives there, she has to deal with it.
While standing at the kitchen sink, Carter has experienced a cold sensation many times. She has even been videotaped by Chris McGill and his team of paranormal researchers for his former company, Ghostbusters.
A very visible softball-sized orb appeared beside her several times on the video. This dancing orb was thought to be Julia.
Film great D.W. Griffith’s funeral was held in 1948 at the Peak Funeral Home. Actress Lillian Gish sang to the funeral goers from the top floor balcony, said Carter.
Former Oldham County attorney Bruce Hamilton purchased it and used the upstairs for many years to store books before he died. When Carter viewed the building for the first time, she knew she had to buy it.
The Ghost Tours “tell a lot about the history of La Grange,” said Edds. The town was established in 1824 by a deed from William Berry Taylor, a land surveyor who owned more than 25,000 acres in three counties and was known as “Big Foot Billy.” It is said that wherever Taylor put his foot down, he owned the land.
The Kenyon Hotel once stood where the fire station is now located. Built by Taylor in the early 1800s, it was known far and wide for its gracious accommodations. It is even thought that famed wildlife artist John James Audubon stayed in the hotel while he was an itinerant artist and writer.
The proceeds from the tour benefits Discover Downtown La Grange in its efforts for historic preservation and the revitalization of downtown La Grange.
“We try to make sure everyone has fun and is entertained and hopefully will learn a thing or two they didn’t know about our great little town,” said Edds, now in her third year as a ghost tour guide.
“I think our tours touch that place inside many of us who really would like to know if ghosts could be real and would love to be able to experience an encounter,” she said. “If spirits still haunt the streets and buildings of La Grange, I can understand why – it’s such a great little town. Why would anyone ever want to leave?”

• Tour price is $15 per person. Thursday special group rates for 10 or more are $13 per person. Reservations are required. For more information, visit: www.spiritsoflagrange.com or call (502) 356-3293.

Back to September 2008 Articles.



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