Wednesday was our drivingest day of all. (that's a made up word... drivingest). After a return to the Cadiz Family Restaurant for breakfast, we ventured on, out of Kentucky, crossing over into Ohio. This evening we were going to Bobby Mackey's Music World, a place that has earned the title of the most haunted nightclub (or honkytonk) in America. It's in Wilder, KY, just over the bridge from Cincinnati. Since there's not much hospitality going on in Wilder, we booked a room at the Hilton Netherlands Plaza, another allegedly haunted spot (of course). Here's the scariest thing I found at the Netherlands, though. Apparently there is a nest of vampires being protected by the management. We did not investigate this but may return to do so!
So... tonights main event... Bobby Mackey's!
We had an 8 o'clock tour with Laura from Gatekeeper Paranormal. Neither Terry and I are too interested in purposefully stirring up demons, but we were pretty excited for the visit, having seen multiple documentaries/investigations on the nightclub. There's no doubt that some unexplained things have happened in the building, but our visit left me wondering if just maybe it's more about the income stream it generates for the place. The notoriety is a gold mine! There are tours and investigations going on every night except on the weekends when Bobby performs. Don't get me wrong though, I don't think it's a hoax of anything and we actually considered booking another tour on our return trip just to see what, if anything, might happen, but they were booked up. (Like I said... NON-STOP ghost hunting!). Also, it seems there's been some stretching of the truth in regards to the stories that have been told. For example, most, if not all, sources would tell you that in the1800's there stood a slaughterhouse at 44 Licking Pike, on the very land Bobby's place is now. The owner of the slaughter house would reportedly slaughter anything (or anyone) for a price, spilling a lot of blood down the well and into the river. (Also, his name was Sweeney. That part I made up). Laura told us there never was a slaughterhouse in this spot. Also, the hole in the floor in the basement may or may not be a portal to hell.
Just to reiterate... it may not be!
One thing I can tell you for sure, the building is not in peak condition. Just look at that construction! Let's use some of these tour funds and repair this historical landmark!
Apart from the slaughterhouse rumors, there's a laundry list of indiscretions that are attributed to the building/land. There's the whole 1896 affair of Pearl Bryan, a 22 year old girl from Greencastle, Indiana who was beheaded after a botched abortion. One of her assailants, Alonzo Walling, vowed to return and haunt the area forever as he was waiting for his turn on the gallows.
There's the story of Johanna, a dance hall girl and daughter of the 1950's building owner. Johanna fell in love with singer Robert Randall who performed in what was then a nightclub called the "Latin Quarter". He got her pregnant and, in turn, her father got him murdered. When Johanna found out, she poisoned her father and took her own life. (Interesting tidbit... Bobby Mackey's full name is Robert Randall Mackey. Oooooooohhhh! The plot thickens!)
In 1978 Bobby bought the building and from day one there has been alleged paranormal activity, witnessed by patrons, family members, police and employees. A former caretaker that lived in the apartment upstairs was apparently possessed and underwent an exorcism in the club. Patrons claim to have felt suffocating heat, a flying trashcan, a man with a handlebar mustache in the restroom repeating the words, "Die game, die game," which is Latin for "dying well, dying good." Bobby's own wife claims she was overcome by the scent of roses in the basement, before being grabbed around the waist, pushed down the stairs, and told to "GET OUT!" by a man who resembled the sketches of Alonzo Wailling.
And there's even more stories!
But back to our uneventful excursion...
The tour was basically a quick history of the building, followed by two hours of sitting quietly in the darkness, listening and waiting. Laura had a spirit box which, for those who don't know, is like a radio that skips from channel to channel picking out words and phrases. The theory is that the spirits can use this as a means to slip in some little quips they feel compelled to get off their invisible chests. There were some vague utterances here and there, but who's to say we weren't just picking up a radio signal. No one knows.
It's interesting to note that our guide, Laura, even after leading numerous people on tours through this decrepitly haunted place, calls herself a "skeptical believer". Bobby Mackey even refers to himself as a skeptic, and he owns the place. Laura made comments about the validity of spirit boxes and other such devices and apologized for the lack of activity during our visit. Apparently, even though she's been doing these tours for years she hasn't encountered a "Conjuring"-like haunting yet. Interesting.
As quiet as the evening was, I will admit it's a creepy place to hang out. The basement is quite unsettling, but wouldn't any old basement be if you were sitting in the darkness expecting to hear some other-worldly noise? The only - MAYBE - thing that happened was to Terry. He and I were sitting in the pitch-black (and I mean BLACK!) jail cell across from the well (the well that's the portal to hell) and he thought he heard someone whisper "HEY" in his ear. Admittedly, though, he said it could have been something as simple as the shuffling of the other tourists feet out in the other room. It was so quiet down there that any little sound could have been misinterpreted.
Whether Bobby Mackey's is haunted, residually challenged or is a portal to hell itself, it's a fun place to ghost hunt. I will say, too, that even though the stories may have been embellished over the years, they are not staging anything or trying too hard to make something happen on your visit. It is what it is. It's a creepy place with a creepy history and, if even half the stories are true, it's got some restless energy for sure.
And, if you ever do find yourself in the basement of Bobby Mackey's, staring down into the alleged portal to hell, remember this... There were not gallons of blood, animal or otherwise, deposited in there. There was no slaughterhouse. It was a distillery in the 1800's and the "well" was a tunnel that provided water from the river in order to make booze. As Terry said, "booze not blood." Don't believe everything you read!
We drove back to Cincinnati. At the Netherlands Plaza I inquired at the desk about spirits and we were introduced to Anthony, an all-purpose employee who was nearing retirement and who knew all the in and outs of the hotel. He took us on a quick tour, mostly highlighting the beautiful ballrooms and other notable spots in the building, but also showing us the areas where he'd "felt the presence of the "Lady in Green".
Another lost love story, the Lady in Green was a woman whose husband was one of the laborers back in 1930. He was killed during the construction of the hotel. His body was never found and it is said that the Lady in Green continues to search for him, even in the afterlife. During the renovation in 1983, construction workers reported seeing her on the Mezzanine level and in the Hall of Mirrors.
That's the story. We didn't see anything at the honkytonk and we didn't see her either! We said goodnight and thank you to Anthony and wandered off on our quest to find the perfect Old Fashioned. Maybe we could rile up spirits after all!