Welcome, Foolish Mortals, to New Albany’s Haunted Mansion!


“When hinges creak in doorless chambers, and strange and frightening sounds echo through the halls. Whenever candlelights flicker where the air is deathly still. That is the time when ghosts are present, practicing their terror with ghoulish delight!”

The Haunted Mansion (Disneyland)

When was the last time you took a tour of a haunted mansion? I don’t mean sitting in a “doom buggy” that follows a predetermined path through a ride building past animatronic spooks. I mean a real haunted mansion of the French Second Empire style built in 1867 and haunted by spirits of our colonial past. If you could, would you be willing to spend the night? Such a place exists just across the river from the Ville in New Albany, and it’s open daily for tours. It’s called the Culbertson Mansion.

The Culbertson Mansion State Historic Site sits at 914 East Main Street in New Albany, IN. Visiting hours are from 10AM-5PM Mondays through Saturdays and 11AM-5PM on Sundays. A donation of $5 goes to the ongoing restoration and upkeep of the mansion’s three stories and grounds. Historic tours are available, but you’re also free to wander the halls alone if you choose. For this tour, I’ll be your host, your ghost host, the Phantom of the Ville.

Arriving at the mansion, I approached the massive, ornate door and rang the doorbell. Moments later I was ushered into the incredible front parlor with antique portraits of William Culbertson and his wife on the wall to my left, a beautiful crystal chandelier above me hanging from the frescoed ceiling and a view of the spiral, three story rosewood-grained staircase in front of me. It’s like a scene right out of a 1930’s “old dark house” movie.

The first floor of the mansion features incredible marble fireplaces in a large ballroom, fancy dining rooms, grand pianos and a study with an antique library. The second floor features several beautiful bed chambers with vaulted, painted ceilings, a sewing room and tea rooms. Continue up the spiral staircase to the third floor and you’ll find stained glass windows, children’s rooms filled with antique toys and baby carriages as well as a museum room filled with historical facts and artifacts. If you descend the second spiral staircase on the other side of the house you’ll find the basement area with the servant’s quarters, the laundry room, the work shed and, across the exterior walkway, the giftshop.

It’s a breathtaking journey into local history in a 150 year old mansion that holds its share of secrets and stories, but the tours close at 5PM. What would the house look like at night and what would it be like to spend the night in a, literally, haunted mansion. If you’re brave enough, you can find out during one of Culbertson’s Ghost Watch Undertaking Sleepovers! The next sleepover takes place on September 21st from 6PM-6AM. Reservations are required and no one under 18 will be admitted. You’ll enjoy a candlelight dinner, a ghost tour and a scavenger hunt through the mansion’s dark halls before attempting to make it through the night. The cost is $100 per person and reservations can be made at Culbertsonmansionshs@indianamuseum.org or by calling (812) 944-9600. If you can’t make that date, the next sleepover takes place three days after Halloween on November 3rd.

If you’re interested in hearing the many ghost stories of Culbertson Mansion, you can take one of the Ghostly Happenings Tours this Halloween season. Reservations are required and no one under 12 years of age will be admitted. The cost is $15 per person and tours will take place on October 9, 11, 16, 18, 23 and 25.

A family friendly Halloween Tea event will also take place on October 28th from 2PM-4PM. This includes finger food and Victorian Tea with the Queen of Halloween who will be on hand to tell stories. Costumes are welcomed. Reservations are required, and the cost is $15 per adult, $8 per child 3-8 years of age and kids under 3 are free.

Outside of the mansion sits the Carriage House, which is the location of one of Kentuckiana’s longest running seasonal haunted attractions. Since 1985, Literally, a Haunted House has been scaring the wits out of foolish mortals with a dead-icated all volunteer crew of fiendish freaks! All proceeds go the restoration of the mansion itself. Head Haunter, Holly Crisler, tells me that this year’s theme is centered around scary toys. If your hair stands on end at the thought of creepy baby dolls and mechanical monkeys that play cymbals, then you should be an easy target for Holly and her twisted crew.

Literally, a Haunted House opens on the weekend of September 28-29th, the doors creak open at 7PM and don’t close until the last victim runs screaming from the exit. It’s open every Friday and Saturday night in October. Admission is $13 per person, but $2 off coupons are available in the Culbertson Mansion giftshop.

A visit to the Culbertson Mansion in New Albany for any of these events gets my highest recommendation this Halloween season. There’s an atmosphere found within the mansion that no haunted attraction, no matter how elaborate, can ever replicate. For only a $5 donation you can experience the real thing. There are no store bought props or characters wearing white sheets inside. Everything you see and experience is real. If, after your journey into the haunted past of Culbertson Mansion, you still crave the traditional scares of a great seasonal haunted attraction, stop by the giftshop to pick up your $2 off coupons and come back for the haunted Carriage House. If you think about it, that’s only $16 for BOTH unique experiences, which is still less than most Halloween attractions charge for one.

If, however, you are one of the brave souls who rises to the challenge of actually SPENDING THE NIGHT in Culbertson Mansion, we’d love to hear about your experience in the comments section below or see your photos on the Louisville Halloween Facebook Page. The first person to send a photo of themselves outside the Culbertson Mansion to my Phantom Facebook page at www.facebook/#!/louisvilleafterdark wins a secret prize package from me, The Phantom of the Ville!

The Phantom of The Ville

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