New Horror Film, “Viridescent,” is Currently Shooting in a Haunted Hotel in Historic La Grange!

Louisville Halloween visits the set of “Viridescent” for the scoop on this new horror film shooting on Main Street in La Grange, and uncovers the ghost stories behind the haunting of the Central Hotel!

When I arrived in historic La Grange and turned right onto Main Street, it almost felt like I had entered a time portal that transported me back in time to the mid 1800’s. The full length of Main Street is embedded with railroad track that you’ll drive over top of to reach your destination, and the entire two city blocks close down when a train rumbles through the center of town.

I parked in front of an amazing, two level toy store called The Treasured Child and gazed at the fantastical window displays that featured period dressed mannequins and life size stuffed animals. Unfortunately, the store was closed on Sunday, but peering through the window I could see vintage toys and huge, whimsical displays that are calling me to return soon and explore this olde world wonderland.

My destination was the very historic, and very haunted, Central Hotel and former Peak Funeral Home at 114 Main Street. Built in 1863, it was known as the Central Hotel until it was purchased by the Peak family in 1918 who moved into the six bedroom and six bath building with their eight children. In 1921 they converted the former hotel in a funeral home.

The Peak Funeral Home is already steeped in movie history. Silent film pioneer and La Grange native, director D.W. Griffith (“Birth of a Nation” 1915), had his funeral services performed here. Famous silent film actress, Lilian Gish, attended his funeral and even sang for the mourners during the service in 1948. Now the cinematic tradition continues in 2016 with director Troy King’s horror thriller, “Viridescent.”

“The title refers to ‘seeing the world through a green lens’,” says King. “It also refers to the experience of drinking absinthe and the green fairy said to exist in the bottle that lures men into an altered state of mind.”

“Growing up, I loved ‘The Twilight Zone,’” says King, “and I’ve always wanted to make something with that kind of mystery story and twist ending. This script was written by author Julie Kimbrell, and she sent it to me some months ago. That’s what really got me interested in this project and we collaborated on a final draft with actor/producer John Wells.”

Viridescent” reunites the cast of the locally produced science fiction/horror hit, “Overtime” (2011), John Wells, Sebrina Scott and former WWF superstar wrestler, Al Snow. The special effects make-up and gore are being handled by Matt Goodlett, the head of make-up at The Devil’s Attic. That local, seasonal haunted attraction also provided the film with $300 worth of make-up and props.

“The story is about an artist who has lost his muse after a terrible accident has taken the life of his wife,” says King. “He checks into this old hotel to try to start creating art again, looking for some kind of inspiration or a reason to go on living.” The hotel is as haunted as the artist being played by actor John Wells in the film, and the ghosts of the past and present blur the lines of reality and illusion in this chiller scheduled to be released later in 2016.

To find out more about the ghosts inhabiting the halls of the Central Hotel, I spoke with the building’s current owner and former Mayor of La Grange from 2003 to 2010, Elsie Carter.

“There’s more than one ghost believed to be haunting this place,” admits Carter. “Based on the investigations of several ghost hunting teams, one led by WAVE 3 reporter, Chris McGill, one of them is likely the spirit of the Peak family’s nanny and housekeeper, Julia Crawford.”

“Julia was obsessive about this house, and lived here her whole life after taking the job as caretaker of the residence,” says Carter. “Her room upstairs hasn’t been changed since she passed away. It’s kept exactly as she had it arranged at the time of her death.”

“After buying the property, we had a ghost hunting team shooting footage around the building while I was painting the walls downstairs,” Carter relates. “Chris McGill was shooting infrared photography when he noticed an intense red ball of energy following me everywhere I went. When I went to the sink to wash out my paint brush, the red mass grew much larger around me and began to pulsate. We think it was Julia, who was very upset because I was washing an oil based paint down her vintage sink.”

“I got a cold chill down my spine and I felt like something was oppressing me,” relates Carter. “So I stood in the middle of the floor and said, ‘Julia, I love this house too and I promise to take good care of it,’ and the chill immediately went away. The red energy on the infrared also disappeared.”

Another thing visitors must do to appease Julia is to keep their pets away from the hotel. “Julia didn’t like animals, and once a friend brought her dog into the building and it walked down the hallway only to come running back barking and freaking out. It cowered by her, staring down the hallway, the rest of the time it was here.”

“I used to sleep in Julia’s room during the summer because it’s always ten degrees colder in that room than any other room in the house, even during the heat of July and August.”

Another spirit frequently seen by visitors of the Central Hotel is the ghost of Bruce Hamilton, who purchased the building from the Peak family. Hamilton was a tall, skinny fellow who wore horn rimmed glasses and, usually, a baseball cap. He’s often seen walking up and down Main Street as well as inside the house itself.

“One of the other odd things that happens regularly here,” Carter continues, “is the sudden, very strong floral scent that envelops the room that used to be the Flower Room for the Peak Funeral Home. It’s almost overwhelming and then just as suddenly, it dissipates.”

Whether or not the recent film production and the intensity & simulated violence it has been bringing to this historic building is stirring up any further supernatural activity isn’t certain yet, but the spooky history of the place is certainly boosting the creepy atmosphere of Troy King’s latest thriller.

Viridescent” will premiere locally later in 2016. Stay tuned to Louisville Halloween for further details.

The Phantom of The Ville

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