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Things that go bump in the night

La Grange Ghost Tours
spotlight the unexplained

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

LA GRANGE, Ky. (September 2007) – Two years after purchasing her circa 1830s home, Linda Foster awoke abruptly in the middle of the night. She had felt someone holding her hand in a firm grip. She thought she was dreaming until the feeling persisted, but she realized there was no one else in the room with her.

Linda Foster

Photo by Helen McKinney

Linda Foster tells her story
at Christmas in Kentucky.

Foster purchased her home at 203 E. Washington St. from Kate Travis several years after Travis’ husband died. Foster runs her business, Christmas in Kentucky, from inside the supposedly haunted building.
When Kate Travis reluctantly sold the house in 1993, she left behind a large mirror, which she told Foster would be a way to remember her husband. The ornate, ceiling to floor length mirror hangs in the entryway and had once hung in the American Red Cross building in Louisville.
If one looks closely at it, he can see the faint outline of a Victorian woman, possibly a nurse who wants to make sure everyone is well cared for. In a smaller portion of the mirror, a cross is faintly visible.
Foster explained the image by saying that old mirrors lose their silvering after a time. This usually occurs around the edges where air can get in. But oddly, the Victorian lady’s image is in the middle of the mirror.
Some describe mirrors as “portals between dimensions,” said Foster. A paranormal team has visited La Grange three times to conduct studies on reported paranormal activity.
Because of its otherworldly hauntings, Foster’s home is a stop on this year’s Spirit Tours of La Grange. These tours will run Sept. 7 through Nov. 3 and will be given in two groups at 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. beginning at the Oldham County History Center. Reservations must be made, since guests come from Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio. The tours are not recommended for children under 12.
Foster’s home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the William T. Barbour Home. It has the distinction of being the only federal style brick home that remains in the La Grange historic district. Barbour was a surveyor and laid out the plan for the city of La Grange.
The home has also been a girl’s dormitory for the Funk Seminary. The building contains its original yellow poplar floors. Its 12- to 13-inch thick walls need no insulation.
“The tour talks about buildings that are no longer standing,” said tour guide Barbara Edds. Edds is a member of Discover Downtown La Grange, the group that arranges the tours and uses the proceeds for its façade program to renovate the outside of downtown buildings.

Barbara Edds

Photo by Helen McKinney

Barbara Edds
leads a Ghost Tour
in La Grange.

La Grange became a city in 1827 and has a long and varied past. “La Grange is one of three cities within the United States that has recordings from its founding,” said Edds.
These original town documents have survived a courthouse fire, since they were contained in a separate building that stood where the jail now stands. The current courthouse was completed in 1875, as was the building across the street that houses Laser Technology.
Locals know this building as “The Opera House.” It still contains its original floor plan, including a ticket booth and stage. Built by C. Sauer and Son, it was often used for musical performances, dancing, plays, Funk Seminary graduation ceremonies and even as a space to roll bandages during World War II.
Other buildings on the tour include the Central Hotel and Peak Funeral Home at 114 E. Main St. La Grange Mayor Elsie Carter now lives in this building built in 1905. It served the county as the Peak Funeral Home from 1920 until the 1950s.
The home is said to be visited by Julia, who was the Peak family’s nanny during the 1920s. Julia resided upstairs with the family, while the funeral business was conducted downstairs. Julia is said to be an active presence in the building.
While visitors wait to begin the tour, they are encouraged to visit the history center’s current exhibit, Old Haunts and Favorite Spots: Oldham County Cemeteries, which runs through Nov. 3.
“We have done a lot of cemetery research and fall is the time for the Discover Downtown La Grange Ghost Tours so the exhibit seemed appropriate,” said Nancy Theiss, executive director of the History Center.
History Center genealogy coordinator Dot Carraco has led a team of cemetery researchers and documented their findings over the last 10 years. “They go out in the county and manually record each marker,” said Theiss. The marker is located with a GPS and digital photos are taken of each grave that is found.
Carraco, 79, then goes back to the office and records the information in the computer. These records are in the process of being updated and can be found online at the History Center website at www.oldhamcountyhistoricalsociety.org.

Back to September 2007 Articles.

 

 

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