When you drive up to the Conrad-Caldwell House on St. James Court in Old Louisville, it’s almost enough to take your breath away, or at least make you say “Wow.”
I recently toured the home and it had everything you could want in a home in the late 19th Century, including an intercom system, indoor plumbing, a fireplace in the middle of the house, a huge billiard room on the third floor, intricately carved wood, and more fleur-de-lis than you can shake a stick at.
According to my wonderful guide, Beth Caldwell, who is the great-granddaughter of the second owner of the home, Theophile Conrad spent $35,000 on the home in the 1890s but only lived there for around 10 years. Mr. Conrad supposedly had a heart attack and died on the stairs in 1905 – he was 73 years old. The spirit of Mr. Conrad is still said to call the mansion home and is said to appear and shake his finger at you if you are doing something that you aren’t supposed to be doing. There are several parts of the house where you feel like you are being watched. Not in a threatening way, more of a way a parent would watch you when you are a child.
After Conrad’s death, Mary Conrad sold the mansion to Willam and Elaine Caldwell in 1908. The Caldwells lived in the house together for the rest of their lives. Elaine died in the home in 1925. William did remarry, in 1930, and lived in the house until his death in 1938. The Caldwells still stop by from time to time. Employees and guests have reported the smell of flowers in different parts of the house as well as seeing images of Mr. Caldwell in the library often accompanied by the smell of cigar smoke.
After the death of William, his children, Walter and Grace sold the house in 1944 and it was converted into a boarding house. Four years later, the house was sold again to the Presbyterian Church. The church established the Rose Anna Hughes Home for Widows. Apparently, some of the ladies that lived there liked it so much, they never left. There are reports of the spirits of three women that appear in the sitting room on the second floor. On the tour, Beth Caldwell told my group that the ladies don’t like it when things in the sitting room are moved around. If something is moved, doors will allegedly open and close on their own. Beth Caldwell says it has become good practice when the docents will say hello to the trio of ladies just to acknowledge them.
In 1987, the home was purchased by residents that lived on St. James Court and they established the St. James Court Historic Foundation to run the house as a non-profit museum.
I have been in the Conrad-Caldwell House on a couple of different occasions and while you can feel that there is a strange paranormal energy in different parts of the house, I have never felt afraid of the spirits that still call the house home. If you would like to check out the house for yourself, you can do a self-guided tour at several different times Thursday through Sunday. However, I would recommend going on the Docent-led tour. Those also happen Thursday through Sunday but only at 11:00 am and 3:00 pm. I hope you get Beth as your docent, she has lots of great family stories of her great-grandmother and her time in the house. You can get tickets HERE.