Friday, January 2, 2015

The Blue Lady of KY's Seelbach Hilton

Seelbach, 1907
The story of the Seelbach Hotel dates back to 1869 when Bavarian brothers, Otto and Louis Seelbach came to America to learn the hotel business.  It wasn't until 1903 that they would begin construction on their hotel.  At a cost of $990,000, the Seelbach opened in May of 1905 as the city's only fireproof hotel.  It was so well received that almost immediately, a 154-room addition would begin, being completed in 1907.

Over the years, the hotel changed hands several times, but remained a center of opulence in Louisville, Kentucky.  It was a favorite hangout for organized crime leaders, and was even frequented by author F. Scott Fitzgerald while he was stationed at Camp Taylor.  So impressed with the hotel, Fitzgerald used the Grand Ballroom as a backdrop for the wedding in The Great Gatsby.

Unfortunately, life at the Seelbach wasn't so happy for everyone.  While there are numerous ghost stories attached with the hotel, ranging from an older woman wearing ragged clothing in Otto Cafe to a man seen looking out the window of an 8th floor room, the most famous of the spectral guests is hands down The Blue Lady.

Thanks to some detective work done in 1992 by Alex Hunt, it is widely accepted that The Blue Lady is the ghost of Patricia Wilson.  Born in 1911, Patricia Wilson had just moved to Louisville from Oklahoma in 1936.  She and her husband of four years had recently separated, but decided to try and work things out.  They agreed to meet at the Seelbach to talk, but unfortunately, Mr. Wilson never made it.  He died in a car crash on the way to the hotel.  Patricia was devastated and several days later, on July 15, she was found dead at the bottom of a service elevator shaft.  She had a fractured skull, broken left knee cap, broken right tibia, and broken fibula.  It is unknown whether it was a suicide or accident.  Some even say it may have been murder. She was buried in Louisville's Evergreen Cemetery.

Patricia and the rest of the ghostly gang make their presence known by disembodied footsteps, phantom perfume smells, and cold spots throughout the hotel, especially on the 8th floor.  However, Patricia seemed especially active throughout the 1980s when she was spotted numerous times.

She was seen on the 8th floor and the mezzanine area of the hotel, near the elevator, as well as several other places around the hotel.  Her apparition was always described as wearing a blue dress and having long, black hair.

Sources:
The Seelbach Hilton: A Centennial Salute to Louisville's Grand Hotel by Larry Johnson
Haunted Rooms
Find-a-Grave
The Secret Life of the Seelbach Hotel

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