Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Cool Blues and Spooky Vibes at The Slippery Noodle

October’s Haunted Establishments with “Spirits” Series

The Slippery Noodle - Indianapolis, Indiana

The wind is rising, the leaves are changing and it’s time for our annual trek to check out some haunted restaurants and libation locations around the country. Today we’ll discover a place that began as an upscale inn for train travelers and is now one of the best places to hear live Blues (and witness otherworldly phenomena) in the Midwest.

Slippery Noodle Inn
Today, The Slippery Noodle Inn is the oldest continually operated bar in its original building in the state of Indiana, and the oldest commercial building still standing in Indianapolis. With a history of over 150 years, this bar has a rich history, not only as a tavern and inn but also a bordello and gangster hangout.

Founded in 1850 as the Tremont House, the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Tremont House began as an inn offering lodging to train travelers passing through Indianapolis. Painted remains of a sign for the Tremont House can still be seen on the north side of the building.

Union Station
In the 1860s the name was changed to the Concordia House and the building was used as a way station on the Underground Railroad. There are rumors that tunnels connected the inn to the Union Station train depot.

Around the turn of the century, the business was renamed The Germania House and became the home of one of the first German clubs in Indy. But with the start of WWI and anti-German sentiments, the name was changed to Beck’s Saloon after owner, Louis Beck.

Moore's Restaurant
When Beck sold the bar to Walter Moore, he changed the name to Moore’s Beer Tavern, but the name was short-lived due to Prohibition. Moore quickly renamed it Moore’s Restaurant, but that didn't stop bootleg beer from being brewed in the basement and pumped upstairs to be served to select customers. As a ploy to cover the location of the brewery, a slaughterhouse also operated in the basement.

Al Brady
John Dillinger
Moore’s Restaurant became a favored hang out for several gangsters including John Dillinger and Al Brady. Moore allowed the gangsters to use the old brick stable for target practice.  Today, this room is used as one of the stage areas, and slugs can still be found embedded in the walls. After the repeal of Prohibition, Moore went back to the bar’s original name of Moore’s Beer Bar.
Moore decided to offer gang members a bit of entertainment and soon the upstairs became a bordello. What had once been luxurious lodging rooms were subdivided into 23 rooms, without heat, for the “girls” and their customers.

Moore was making a “killing” on his bar and bordello until, in 1953, two johns got into a fight over one of the girls. Fists flew, words were said and one of the johns ended up dead - stabbed with a knife. The bordello was immediately closed; the bar kept a low profile.

In 1963, Harold and Lorean Yeagy bought the place and turned it into a lunch counter, naming it The Slippery Noodle Inn. In 1985, the Yeagy’s son, Hal took over the business and expanded it, creating one of the premier blues clubs in the Midwest offering “Good Food, Booze and Blues.”

Today, the Noodle is a magnet for locals, music lovers, and Hollywood stars that enjoy the Blues. Visitors to the Inn have included The Blues Brothers Band, Billy Joel, Harrison Ford and Spike Lee.

But the Slippery Noodle Inn also attracts some otherworldly visitors. The basement, now home to one of the performance stages, was once where slaves were hidden on their journey north to Canada. Not all of them made it out of the Tremont House alive and those who died were buried under the dirt floor in the cellar. (Human remains were discovered during an excavation.)

Basement Area Today
Reports of shadowy apparitions downstairs have been numerous. People tell of hearing someone whisper to them when no one is near. Cold spots occur throughout the basement, even on warm nights with cool Blues playing. Employees have reported seeing a tall black man, dressed in overalls, working in the basement. It is believed that he was a former janitor for one of the inns, and is apparently still on the job. He has been seen and heard in the basement still trying to keep things in operational order.

Main Bar
The main floor of the building doesn’t have many tales to tell, but the second floor is another “hot spot” for paranormal activity. Now used for storage, this floor once contained the lodging house, and years later, the bordello. This area is alive with activity. Employees have seen a man dressed as a cowboy wandering along the second floor; maybe he was a stranger passing through on a train to the west ...

A few of the “girls” have also remained behind. Customers tell of seeing a woman standing on the second floor balcony looking out. People have been touched by unseen hands and heard sounds that no one can offer explanations for. Cold spots are also found up here. Bottles of alcohol stored on the second floor have been opened when no one has been in the building. (The girls enjoying a nightcap, perhaps?) An employee who went up for supplies saw a door open onto the hallway and then close as if someone had entered or left the room, then a cold spot wisked past her ...

If you’re looking for “good food, booze and Blues” then head to the Slippery Noodle Inn, 372 South Meridian Street in Indianapolis, Indiana. Enjoy an evening of live blues and jazz from two stages, with music available seven nights a week. For more information visit 

And if you happen to glance up and see one of the ”girls” surveying the crowd, rest assured she’s just looking for a little company to spend a long night with …

~ Joy

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A Public House with a Sordid Past

October’s Haunted Establishments with “Spirits” Series

Stone’s Public House – Aahland, Massachusetts

The wind is rising, the leaves are changing and it’s time for our annual trek to check out some haunted restaurants and libation locations around the country. Today we’ll discover a public house with a sordid past; more than one death occurred under its roof …

Once known as Captain John Stone’s Inn, the current Stone's Public House is a hotbed of paranormal activity. In 1832, Captain Stone decided to build the inn next to the new railroad tracks in Ashland. When it first opened in September 1834, the inn was known as the Railroad Boarding House. Travelers and locals frequented the place for lodging, food and the latest news.

John Stone operated the inn for only two years before he transferred ownership to his brother, Napoleon Stone. He continued to live at the inn until he died in 1858.

Napoleon Stone ran the inn until 1868 when he sold out to W.A. Scott. Scott attempted to keep the inn running but slowly, over time, it fell into disrepair. During the next one hundred years, the inn became home to the seedier side of life, housing a brothel and known as a place where ne'er-do-wells could meet and plot in relative secrecy.

Leonard "Cappy" Fournier
It was not until the 1970s that an attempt was made to restore and refurbish the building. Leonard Fournier, better known as “Cappy” purchased the house in 1976 because he had heard that the inn was haunted and wanted to find out if it was true.

Fournier quickly got his answer. By 1979, psychics and paranormal investigators were coming from all over to spend time in the old building. Most felt that “something” was residing there; in fact, several spirits were identified as haunting the place including that of John Stone, the original owner.

The one thing all the investigators seemed to agree upon was an upstairs room that had a disturbing feeling about it. In the back half of the room, psychics, paranormal groups, and visitors alike, all felt distressed and uncomfortable. It was a menacing feeling of not being wanted in the room, as if visitors were intruding. Many claimed the spirits lurking here were male. Most estimated that between 6 an 8 spirits haunted the building, with most congregated in this room. When we heard the legends surrounding the house, things began to make sense …

A portrait of Captain John Stone hangs over one of the fireplace's and most claim that Stone is one of the ghosts that haunts the establishment. Employees and customers report the feeling of being watched when standing near the picture. Customers and employees have felt icy hands encircle their necks. Then there is the smell of cigar smoke lingering in the air although no one has been smoking inside.

But maybe the Captain has a good reason to keep a vigilant watch on his property, because some discoveries could be proof of a mistake rumored to have been made long ago …

Around 1845, during the time Stone resided here, a card game got out of hand. Captain Stone was playing along with a traveling salesman, and a few local men. Luck was not with Stone that night; he lost over $3,000 in a game of cards. The winner was the traveler from New York. Stone accused the man of cheating. A fight ensued with Stone hitting the man over the head with the butt of his gun. The salesman fell dead to the floor. Suddenly, Stone knew he had to act quickly to “protect” the reputation of the inn, and his own.

Dirt Floor
The other card players were local men who agreed to assist Stone in getting rid of the body. The men carried the traveler down to the cellar and buried him in a shallow grave. A pledge of silence was made between the witnesses and no one knew of the deed for years.

But it seems that the dead man is still trying to find retribution for the inhospitable treatment he received at the inn. Shadowy figures can be seen in the basement and odd sounds and voices can be heard. Maybe the traveler is seeking to have his name cleared of that questionable charge of cheating, all these years later.

Hidden Room
There are other ghosts that have been seen passing through the basement area. The building is said to have been a stop on the Underground Railroad. Some exploration has exposed a secret room - a place that could have been used to hide slaves on their way to freedom in Canada. It is quite possible that some slaves didn’t make it out of the basement, dying of injuries or disease and could have been buried under the dirt floor, although no skeletons have been found.

And then there are the spirits reported to be hanging around upstairs. People say that faces in the paintings on the second floor seem to follow you with their eyes as you walk down the corridor. Unseen phantoms tap customers on the shoulders, and faucets in unoccupied rooms turn on and off.

There are those who think the ghosts in the upstairs back room are the men who aided Stone in burying traveler’s body so many years ago, still trying to guard their secret, even in death. These men, who made a vow of silence during their lifetimes, may still be trying to keep their deed undiscovered.

Employees at the restaurant tell of a little girl named Mary who also haunts the upstairs. According to legend, it was during the late 1800s when Mary was playing on the railroad tracks and was struck by a train. She was taken to the public house where she died in an upstairs room. Her bloodied dress was taken to the attic where it has remained for over 100 years. People gazing up at the house have reported seeing a young girl staring forlornly out of an upstairs window as if waiting for someone who never comes.

Bar Area
Even now in the 21st century, employees report incidents that no one can explain. Doors that have been secured for the night will unlock themselves. Water taps in the bar area turn on and off for no reason. The restaurant and bar staff report beverage glasses have been thrown off the shelves, or simply shattered into pieces as they set on the bar.

Today, Stone’s Public House serves American pub grub, along with Irish food and drink. The restaurant opened in 2003 and occupies the downstairs floor of the building while offices and storage are located above. Stones Public House is located at 179 Main Street in Ashland, Massachusetts. Visit Stone’s Public House for more information.

The eerie atmosphere of the house is well earned; the bar is well worn with close to 200 years of use, old floorboards creek at random throughout the house as if someone is talking upon them, and then there are those solid wooden beams spanning the ceiling, which have born witness to years of loves, hates, and plans, made and forgotten.

And above one fireplace, the menacing picture of Captain John Stone still hangs, as he apparently keeps abreast of who or what continues to come and go at his inn …

~ Joy

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Tales From A "Spirited" Distillery

October’s Haunted Establishments with “Spirits” Series

Buffalo Trace Distillery – Frankfort, Kentucky

The wind is rising, the leaves are changing and it’s time for our annual trek to check out some haunted restaurants and libation locations around the country. Today, we’ll discover one of the oldest distilleries in the country where there’s more than the usual high alcohol spirits residing …

It has long been rumored that Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky is more “spirited” than other distilleries. The distillery has a rich history beginning sometime before 1773 when Hancock Lee first began distilling spirits there. By 1811, a three-story stone warehouse was constructed near the Kentucky River for the purpose of storing barrels of whiskey as they awaited shipment to New Orleans. A year later the first official distillery was built on the grounds.

Edmund H. Taylor, Jr.
In 1870, Edmund H. Taylor, Jr. bought the distillery and named it the O.F.C (Old Fire Copper) Distillery believing that wood fired copper stills produced the best whiskey.  Two years later, Taylor invested over $70,000 to build a new distillery on site. Taylor proved to be one of the last bourbon aristocrats, making numerous innovative contributions to the bourbon industry; upgrades that are still in use today.

George T. Stagg
George T. Stagg purchased the O.F.C. in 1878 but Taylor continued to oversee the operation. Stagg let Taylor modernize the plant. In 1886, Taylor revolutionized the storage warehouses by adding steam heat, making O.F.C. the first whiskey warehouses to be climate controlled. Working together, the two men built the most dominant American distillery of the 19th century. In 1904 the distillery’s name was changed to the George T. Stagg Distillery.

Albert B. Blanton
By 1900, young distillery employee Albert B. Blanton was promoted to the position of Still House Warehouse and Bottling Superintendent. In 1921, Blanton became President of the George T. Stagg Distillery where he would remain until his death in 1959.

Migrating Buffalo
Buffalo Trace Distillery
In 1999, new distillery renovations were completed and the complex was rechristened the Buffalo Trace Distillery after the Buffalo Trace Road, one of the major buffalo migration paths running through Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois.

Rumors of ghosts abound  on the premises. A simple white stone house, known as the Riverside House, has been the site of several ghostly encounters. Among those who haunt the place is Edmund Taylor, Jr. His spirit has been seen peering out an upstairs window, apparently still keeping an eye on his distillery. People have also reported seeing a young boy at the house.

Stony Point Mansion
It seems one the most haunted location on the 125-acre property is the Stony Point Mansion built in 1934 by Albert B. Blanton.  Employees have reported hearing footsteps echo throughout the house and attribute them to Colonel Blanton. He has also been sighted in the sunroom where he died, wearing his signature bowler hat. Humming can be heard in the house and employees say that is Blanton’s housekeeper, Sarah, a pleasant soul in life … and after. There are also reports that you can hear the sounds of furniture being moved – maybe Sarah is cleaning … The basement has a cold, almost icy feel to it at times, even during the hotter months. Few care to remain there for long.

Warehouse C
Warehouse C, built in 1885, is another paranormal location. Workers were busy in the warehouse one day when a voice suddenly told them to “Get out!”  As the last man ran out, a wall collapsed. No one in the group knew where the voice had come from, or to whom it belonged but because of its warning, no one was injured. Distillery employees also report cold spots in the warehouse, along with fleeting shadows and disembodied voices.

In 2011, SyFy Channels’s “Ghost Hunters,®” investigated some of the stories and came up with more than they anticipated. (Read more about the Buffalo Trace episode here: Distillery of Spirits.)

Buffalo Trace Distillery is located at 113 Great Buffalo Trace near Frankfort, Kentucky. Visit the Buffalo Trace web site for hours and more tour options.

If you’re in the area, make a tour reservation by calling 800-654-8471 and take a walk with the spirits. The one hour Ghost Tour is free and available Thursdays through Saturdays, 7 p.m. at the distillery.

And, don’t despair if you don’t see a ghost, there are always award-winning “spirits” awaiting you at the end of the tour.

~ Joy

(Photos courtesy Buffalo Trace Distillery)