Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Hoosier Haunted Spirits at the Gas Light Inn

It’s October and all this month we’ve explored haunted drinking establishments - restaurants, taverns, wineries; any place that serves spirits, and has “spirits.” 

So for our final round, let’s hit the road and discover who or what it is that makes these places so dark and brooding…

John Dillinger
Indianapolis is home to many legends and ghost stories. One ghost Hoosiers seem proud to embrace is that of native son, John Dillinger. Born in 1903 in a near-eastside Indianapolis neighborhood, Dillinger began his life of crime in nearby Mooresville, eventually becoming “Public Enemy Number One.”

Soup Line
But locals had a soft spot for him, his ne'er-do-well attitude, and his flair for robbing banks. Dillinger, true to his Hoosier roots, was always polite. He became a modern day Robin Hood, robbing from the banks and, many times, giving assistance and food to the poor. During the Depression this evoked the sympathies of those who were struggling just to get by.

Dillinger's Body
Dillinger's Grave
But Dillinger’s life of crime was cut short on July 22, 1934 when he was gunned down at the Biograph Theatre in Chicago. His body was put on display at the Cook County Morgue before being sent back home to Indianapolis for interment in Crown Hill Cemetery.

Gas Light Inn
Nonetheless, Dillinger may still be roaming around Nap-Town, visiting some of his favorite “haunts,” one of which was the Gas Light Inn. Located south of downtown Indy, the Gas Light Inn is easy to miss. 

Located at the corner of Meridian and Kelly this unassuming two-story building blends with other in the neighborhood. 

One of the Cemeteries
Built around the turn of the century, your first impression might be that it looks a bit divey, but once you’ve tried the food, there’s no turning back. Except of course to check out what’s located behind the Gas Light Inn – not one, not two, but three cemeteries!

 Gas Light Dining Room
Bullet Holes (?)
The building is well over 100 years old and has housed a grocery store, a confectionery, a brothel, and a morgue, before it became a bar and restaurant. During Dillinger’s time it was one of his favorite hangouts in the city. The story goes that Dillinger was having a drink at the bar one evening when a man walked in through the swinging doors and fired two shots at him. Dillinger was not hit but the brick column behind where he was sitting still bears two bullet holes.

Death Mask
Dillinger’s death mask now hangs in the dining room, along with a “Most Wanted” poster of him. But Indiana’s bad boy is not the only spirit that may still be imbibing here.

According to Todd Phelps, founder of the Indiana Scientific Paranormal Investigators several ghosts linger at the Gas Light. Employees have reported seeing full apparitions, being held in place in the basement, hearing voices and gunshots, and have experienced the feeling of being watched.

IndianaSPI's Equipment
IndianaSPI did a paranormal investigation here a couple of years ago and picked up a child’s voice on the walkie-talkies in the early morning hours. Maybe this is the spirit of the young girl who is said to enjoy teasing and touching patrons in the dining room.

Stairs to the Basement
Employees don’t care to go to the basement alone when more liquor needs to be brought up to the bar.  Staff members say that there is a male spirit that hangs out down there. Employees have been touched by something unseen, even held immobile. Shadowy figures move around in the gloom, and sound of glass breaking can sometimes be heard from the bar.

Stairs to the Comedy Club
Second Story Windows
There are also reports of a woman, dressed in the style of the early 1900s, who’s sometimes seen or heard on the stairs leading to the second floor Comedy Club. She has also been seen looking out of a second story window. 

The television program, “My Ghost Story” investigated the Gas Light in 2011. Paranormal 911 Investigations
contacted “My Ghost Story” and got the ball rolling for a TV investigation after they came away with over 90 separate EVPs (electronic voice phenomenon) from a single night.

If you’d like the chance to take part in a paranormal investigation, the Gas Light Inn welcomes you with its Ghost Tours. Choose from two to four hour investigations, led by owner Joe DeMore. Or if you’re feeling very daring, go for the “All Nighter” from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. and see what “goes bump in the night”...

Ghosts aren’t guaranteed, but amazing pub food in the “Best Ghost Bar in Indy” is a sure thing!

~ Joy