LAWRENCEBURG, Ky. (FOX 56) — The Anderson Hotel is covered with tarps and scaffolding these days, protecting people from falling bricks and fixtures loosened by recent winds — a storm that brought down the iconic neon sign that hung on the outside of the building. But the real danger may be inside, where things have been unchanged since the 1980s.
Caretaker Jeff Waldridge said, “These rooms are like little capsules of energy.”
The hotel was built in 1935 but never lived up to its potential as a premiere place to stay. Waldridge said during the Prohibition era, the county’s bourbon industry tanked, hurting the economy and eliminating the need for a 26-room hotel. So, it quickly went downhill and was turned into apartments by the 1950s.
He said the Anderson Hotel became a “flophouse,” where drug addicts, ex-cons, and prostitutes could rent a room for as little as $2 per day.
“That would be the equivalent of a $30 room today, which is a horrible idea,” he said.
Everyone was evicted nearly 40 years ago.
“The lease agreement stated that if you didn’t pay your rent, they would lock your door and keep your things,” Waldridge said while walking down one of the building’s hallways. “So, there were a lot of personal items up here from people and I think that lends to some of the hauntings.”
Waldridge got permission to do paranormal investigations in the hotel a few years ago. The building may be untouched, but visitors are not.
“We’ve had people bitten three times by human bite marks up here,” he said. “And one ghost doesn’t like women. Women will have their hair touched or tugged, different things like that.”
Waldridge has documented that at least 13 people died in the hotel, including three suicides. A manager shot himself, a man hanged himself in a closet, and a woman slashed her wrists on a bed. As he was going through the building during an investigation, he found a bloody mattress stuffed down a stairwell.
The hotel is a Halloween attraction in October and many people chicken out before they get very far into the tour. It’s not just because of the jump scares and costumed characters. It’s from a sense of dread they get from being in the building — a feeling that they’re being watched.
Visitors tell of hearing footsteps, seeing shadow people, and a burning man near a bed, even though there are no reports that the hotel was ever on fire.
Waldridge said, “Some of them know they are dead and they use that power to mess with people.”
The haunted house is partially based on ghost stories attached to the hotel, and embellished with the story of a killer clown. The building itself inspired that storyline after Waldridge started finding clown figurines throughout the building.
“It’s almost like they’re giving us gifts.”
The part of the building connected to the most ghost stories, the so-called bad side, is off-limits to most visitors. It’s where Waldridge says people have the strangest encounters.
“There’s one that people see — thank God I’ve never seen it — they call it the legless man and he walks on his hands with no legs,” he said.
Waldridge says he has an agreement with the spirits. He believes they will protect him as long as he protects the building. There are no plans to change a thing.
“It will remain what it is for the time being and, you know, I think the ghosts are happy about that.”