Liberty Hall in Kentucky’s capital city of Frankfort was built for Senator John Brown and his family. Construction began in 1796 and was completed eight years later in 1804 – three years after John Brown and his wife Margaretta moved in. According to documents in the National Archives, the house stayed in the family until the 1950s when a group called the Liberty Hall Association took control of the property. Liberty Hall was added to the National Register of Historic Places on February, 20th 1972. You can look at the documents for that process here.
John Brown did own slaves. Part of the tour does highlight the enslaved people that made the Brown family’s lifestyle possible. You can learn more about the Stepney family here.
A house this old is bound to have a few ghosts in it right? Liberty Hall’s most famous resident is the Gray Lady. According to our tour guide, the Gray Lady Ghost is thought to be the spirit of Margaretta Varick, the Aunt of Margaretta Mason Brown. Varick visited the home in 1817 and died three days after arriving at Liberty Hall. At the time of her death, she was buried on the grounds with other members of the family. Records from the Kentucky Heritage Council show the Frankfort Cemetery was established in 1844 and all of the Brown family remains were moved to the cemetery over a period of a few years – all the remains except Margaretta Varick. Varick is not mentioned in a note from Orlando Brown, John Brown’s son about moving family members to the cemetery.
The first sighting of the Gray Lady happened in the 1880s. Mary Mason Scott allegedly saw an apparition in her bedroom, pictured below. The apparition was described as a tall woman, veiled in gray. Tour guides have noticed other things in the bedroom, like lights turning on by themselves.
The Gray Lady isn’t thought to be a violent spirit. In a letter, now part of the Liberty Hall Historic Site Collections, Mary Mason Scott referred to the Gray Lady as “our beloved ghost”, and regarded her as a benevolent presence. A photograph taken in 1965, while the house was being renovated, shows an apparition on the stairs that is believed to be the Gray Lady.
The Gray Lady isn’t the only ghost that is said to roam the grounds of Liberty Hall. An article in the Franklin Favorite from October 1978 mentions two others. One is the ghost of a woman who roams the gardens behind the house. The woman fits the description of a singer who attended a ball at the house. The other is a soldier that is seen looking into the windows of the house.
If you would like to visit Liberty Hall, the building is located on Wilkinson Street between Main and Wapping streets in downtown, Frankfort. You can find more information about tours here.