Sunday, November 20, 2011
The Southgate House
We went by The Southgate House when we did our Gangster Tour. The Southgate House is in Newport, Kentucky. The house is on a hill top, its veranda offering a panoramic view. Shops, bookstores, taverns, restaurants, the Newport Aquarium are all within walking distance of this historic building. The house is now a music and art venue. Its a bar with a fun and varied history where you can stop in and hear some music and have a cold one. And oh yes in case you did not know it is haunted.
This mansion is on Third Street and it has undergone numerous transitions throughout its almost 200 year existence, but has somehow always retained a whiff of regality.
Southgate was huge, it originally occupied a full city block. It was a well known building and vastly admired as being one of the first of Newport truly grand homes. There is much history about the house, which has welcomed many prestigious guests, some of which are rumored to have not left. Local lawyer, Richard Soughgate built the house in 1814. The attorney eventually became a state representative and senator, as well as a manufacturer of silk. Abraham Lincoln visited Richard Southgate at his home before he became the president of the United States, and the inventor of the Tommy Gun, Brigadier General John Tariaferro Thompson was born inside the house in 1860. The second Kentucky chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution was born there. It is also known that the Southgate House played host on December 30, 1835, to a large company of Captain Sherman's men.
Southgate House is now a prominent bar and welcoming arena for both talented upcoming musicians as well as more established bands, and has been labeled by the local press as "one of the best places to hear live music for its intimate setting and cozy sound". The first floor is known as Junie's Lounge. It offers visitors an opportunity to play pool to the tunes of the landmark jukebox. The Ballroom, which is located downstairs, features a bar and a balcony for larger performances. There is also a parlor on the second floor where more intimate and personal gigs take place. The third floor art gallery host some of the best local, regional, national, and international art. If the stories and rumors are true, the other side has visited all floors of this mansion. Southgate has a unique vibe that most assuredly transcends guitars and drums, things are seen and sounds are heard within the building that are often difficult to explain.
When Christmas time rolls around things get crazy. A guy who works there always put up the Christmas tree in between the French doors. One night the Christmas tree slid three or four feet right into the corner, nobody was there. Nothing fell off the tree.
The other strange things that take place at the Southgate house are the front door has a tendency to open and close by itself. Many of the regular employees believe that the door opening "person" is named Elizabeth. There is a woman named Elizabeth whose husband worked on the river boats, he went to Louisville every morning and came back late in the afternoon. Elizabeth would go up in the widow's peak so she could see his boat come in. One day his boat blew up and she saw it happen and hung herself right up there in the widow's peak. What is even more tragic is her husband was not even on the boat, he came back the next day.
The piano upstairs will suddenly start playing, although there is no one there. Sometimes there is knocking on the wall. Lots of knocking on the wall. According to the history of the place, it looks as if there might be three ghosts. The female one Elizabeth, the spirt of a little boy, and also one of a man wearing a Confederate uniform. Some of the bartenders have witnessed patrons standing at the stairwell landing, talking to somebody up at the top of the steps. When asked who they are talking to they reply, "That guy up there"in the Confederate uniform. There is no way there could be anyone up there that section of the building is closed.
Southgate House is located at 24 E 3rd Street in Newport, Kentucky