Understandably, the place has an inherent gloom, and partially because several prisoners were executed here, some visitors report haunting stories of ghostly experiences.
The remaining five guest rooms are attractively furnished, so much so you probably won’t be reminded where you are. (Two rooms have double Jacuzzis, but one has the original iron bars at the entrance).
Owner Paul McCoy is knowledgeable about the area and the history of the jail. In the summer and clement weather, he or his innkeeper serve overnight guests breakfast outside in the courtyard surrounded by the high stone walls.
Whether an overnight guest or day visitor, be sure to have your photo taken while posing with your head and hands in the stocks outside in front of the main entrance. Phone 502-348-5551 or jailersinn.com.
While stately Wickland, the circa 1825 mansion once home to three state governors, is high on Bardstown’s must-see list, there's even more reason to visit what manager and local historian Dixie Hibbs calls "the best example of Georgian architecture in Kentucky."
Friday evenings at 7:30, two young mediums, twin sisters Michael and Katie Wilhite lead 90-minute "paranormal tours" that start with a prayer in the parlor, then proceed down to the basement, haunt of a nasty spirit named Benjamin Ford. The mediums are sensitive enough to communicate with other spirits as well, such as Waleta, a large Black woman once responsible for doing all the mansion cooking.
Along the way, tour takers get to try their hands with divining rods and ask the spirits questions via the mediums.
"It’s not a scary tour, it’s a research tour," said Hibbs. "As an historian, it’s interesting to learn about the daily lives of people who lived here long ago." (502-507-0808)
If You’re Going . . .
For more information on Bardstown attractions, phone 800-638-4877 or visitbardstown.com.
For a place to dine, Kurtz Restaurant, 418 E Stephen Foster Blvd., has been in business since 1937 and owned by three generations of the same family. Skillet fried chicken, Kentucky country ham, homemade soups and casseroles are some of the community favorites, but the homemade cobblers, pies, biscuit pudding and skillet fried cornbread have become signature dishes. Phone 502-348-8964.
Tours of the old jail, built in two sections,the first in 1819 and
an 1874 addition, are available. (Photo credit Bill Rockwell)