The Haunted Palace Hosts a Mad “Monsters” Party in August

Meet the ghosts that lurk in the shadows of the Louisville Palace Theater and check out a whole series of classic Universal Monster movies all August!

It’s August, Boils and Ghouls, just two months away from our favorite time of year, but the historic Palace Theater downtown on Fourth Street is starting the monster bash early this year with a month long series of classic Universal Monster movies.

Designed and built in 1928 by fabled, grand movie house architect, John Eberson, the 2800 seat Louisville Palace has hosted countless films and concerts over the last 85 years inside its arched Gothic ceilings and underneath a blue simulated night sky. The atmosphere inside the Palace is unmatched anywhere in the Ville, and it makes the absolute perfect venue for experiencing this summer’s “Monsters” screenings with a live audience.

Last night at the screening of Louisville native director, Todd Browning’sDracula” (1931), I sat in the open balcony amid a nearly full house of enraptured film fans, many of who were seeing Bela Lugosi’s Transylvanian vampire king projected on the big screen for the first time. This weekend saw screenings of both Lugosi’s horror film debut and Lon Chaney’s silent “The Phantom of the Opera” (1925), but fear not! There are four more weekends and eight classic monster films still coming your way.

Tickets are $5 per film, or you can buy a collectible Season Pass for $30 that comes on a laminated card with the picture of the Frankenstein Monster on the front and the movie schedule on the back that will get you into as many screenings as your dark heart desires. A bucket of fresh popcorn and a soda only costs $5 as well, making these screenings the best family entertainment value of the summer.

A word of warning to the easily spooked, however, the historic Palace Theater is a popular venue for both the living and the dead. The Palace has a number of resident ghosts who loved the building so much that they have chosen to stay even after they have shuffled off the mortal coil.

To get the spooky scoop, last night I spoke with Live Nation representative and Palace Manager, Johnny Downs, who has been with the Palace for the last twelve years.

“If you take one of the local downtown Ghost Tours, you may hear about a ghost named Bernard,” says Downs. “But Bernard is just a nickname that was made up by staff to explain some of the ghostly things that happen occasionally around here.”

“If you ask one of us, we’ll tell you that the ghost’s name is Fred,” reveals Downs. “Fred was a maintenance man who worked at the Palace for 50 years and ultimately died of natural causes right here in the building. He has been seen many times over the years and everyone always gives the exact same description.”

Downs shows me a vintage photo of a man in his 50s with black, horn rimmed glasses. “This is Fred,” he says.

“Although Fred does occasionally indulge in a bit of mischief, like unscrewing a whole series of light bulbs,” admits Downs, “we believe he’s mostly here to help. He’s like a protector of the building.”

“One time a young teenage girl was screwing with one of the light structures, and she walked away to chat with one of her friends. She then came back to continue screwing with the light and she was tripped and fell down, but nothing was there to trip her.”

“On another occasion, a customer called to tell us he had lost his cell phone somewhere on the balcony. The balcony is huge and I knew it would take a long time to search. After I had gone up and down about three rows, I stopped and said out loud, ‘Hey Fred, help me out here.’ Just seconds later, I heard a phone vibrating on the floor just the next aisle over.”

“No one had called the phone,” says Downs, “and the phone battery was dead.”

“Probably the best example I can give you of Fred helping us is the leaking pipe story. One weekend we were about to close up and the lights behind the stage started to flicker on and off. You can only turn those lights on and off from behind the stage, so I went back there to see what was going on. I heard running water and discovered a pipe had burst. If I hadn’t found out about the pipe and we had closed and left for the week, the whole stage area would have been flooded by the time we found out about it.”

The other ghost well known by the Palace staff is the Grey Lady.

“I’ve seen the Grey Lady multiple times over the years,” says Downs. “You can see right through her and she’s wearing a period 1930’s grey formal dress. She appears to be reading a theater program as she walks along.”

“I believe the Grey Lady is what is known as a residual haunting, like a recording of something from the past. Every time she appears, it’s the exact same image. She takes about four steps and disappears in a puff of smoke.”

There are also stories of ghost children playing amid the theater, as the building where the Palace was built was once home to Saint Joseph’s Orphanage, so don’t be surprised if some non-corporeal entity is sitting beside you in the dark watching classic monster films with you.

The schedule for the August “Monsters” screenings is as follows:


Frankenstein” (1931): Friday, Aug. 8 at 7:30 PM and Saturday, Aug. 9 at 2 PM

The Mummy” (1932): Saturday, Aug. 9 at 5 & 8 PM

AUGUST 15-16

The Invisible Man” (1932): Friday, Aug. 15 at 7:30 PM and Saturday, Aug. 16 at 2 PM

The Black Cat” (1934): Saturday, Aug. 16 at 5 & 8 PM

AUGUST 22-23

The Raven” (1935): Friday, Aug. 22 at 7:30 PM and Saturday, Aug. 23 at 2 PM

The Bride of Frankenstein” (1935): Saturday, Aug. 23 at 5 & 8 PM

AUGUST 29-30

The Wolf Man” (1940): Friday, Aug. 29 at 7:30 PM and Saturday, Aug. 30 at 2 PM

The Creature from the Black Lagoon” (1954): Saturday, Aug. 30 at 5 & 8 PM

The Phantom of The Ville

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