Saturday, May 21, 2011
Jailer's Inn, Bardstown, KY
The original jail, which sat in front of the current structure, was torn down in 1819 when the new jail was built, with the aid of architect John Rogers. New is a relative word, as this part of the structure is now known as the "Old Jail." It contained two cells, and an upstairs "Dungeon", where the most violent and dangerous criminals were shackled to the floor.
In 1874, a back addition was made, and the front part of the jail became the jailer's residence until 1987. A wall was also added around the property. The 30 inch thick limestone walls were meant to keep prisoners in...perhaps even in death. In 1988, the McCoy family purchased the building at a public auction, restored it, and converted it into a bed and breakfast, opening up in 1989.
According to co-owner Paul McCoy, the inn earned its reputation as one of the most haunted places in Bardstown and the country honestly. A host of paranormal activity has been reported over the years, from guests and staff alike. Whispering and people talking throughout the inn is common, as are disembodied footsteps walking up and down the stairs, the cries of a baby, and a few piano notes scattered while no one is around.
The Colonial Room is said to be haunted by a red globe light that mysteriously turns itself on. While it may simply be a short in the wiring, that does not explain why the light only comes on between the hours of 3 and 4am. One guest staying in the room had awakened in the night to use the restroom, when the friendly light came on by itself, lighting his way through the dark room.
Perhaps the most haunted part of the building is the old dungeon room. Several tour guides have had experiences there, including seeing an apparition in a mirror, and hearing a woman screaming. Research has shown that a man was once hung from the hanging tree out front. This man was described as having a high-pitched scream, identical to that of a woman's.
While the dungeon may be the most haunted room, the most famous resident ghost is said to be that of Martin Hill. Hill was convicted of murdering his wife in 1885. He shot her while she was at a neighbor's house, and was subsequently sentenced to hang from the gallows. Before his execution date, however, Martin Hill became very ill and passed away. In his pain and fever delirium, it is said he cried out in agonizing pain, but also constantly spewed a string of vile, obscene blasphemies. After his death, many prisoners over the years, and later guests and staff claim to have heard his cries and pleadings for mercy. He is also blamed for many of the nondescript paranormal occurrences throughout the building, and one guest even claims to have possibly seen and actually spoke with the apparition of Hill for over 15 minutes! The ghost of Martin Hill has been around for many years, and was even featured in a 1909 article about hauntings at the jail. This article, as well as a set of original shackles, is on display at the inn.
Jailer's Inn homepage