By: M. Patricia Fox
Originally Published: October 15, 2009 in the Boone County Recorder
Trying to interest the public in the value of preserving historic sites while the nation is undergoing serious financial difficulties presents a challenge to those in the field of historic preservation. Even though the Boone County Historic Preservation Board has faced this problem, it has managed to create some interest in the value of maintaining historic structures and sites. During October of the past two years, the Board has joined with the Boone County Public Library to put a different spin on the concept of preservation by blending historical fact with tales of ghosts and mysteries.
In October 2007 and 2008, the two groups teamed up to provide evening tours of Burlington. Burlington Ghosts & Mysteries Tours highlighted various historic buildings in Burlington and provided background information about the buildings as well as a description of the mysterious occurrences that often took place within them. The profits from these tours went towards preserving the Old Burlington Cemetery.
This fall, however, the annual ghost walk has been moved to Petersburg to draw attention to the history of the town and some of its buildings. By researching the background of significant homes and sites, Bridget Striker, Local History Librarian, together with her staff and several NKU students have uncovered some of the mysteries and disasters that have taken place in the town. They have prepared a Petersburg Ghost Walk for three consecutive Fridays in October: the 16th, 23rd, and 30th beginning at 7:00pm at the Community Center.
During the tour, participants will be escorted to the A.B. Parker House, circa 1886, on Main Street where rumors have been whispered about a little ghost boy who plays marbles in the first floor closet. A.B. Parker, a wealthy and well-known member of the community in the nineteenth century, did not have children who died young. Who then is this child?
Another significant home is the c.1840 Loder House on Front Street. Lewis Loder ran the house as a tavern in its heyday. In his diaries, Loder documented daily life in Petersburg from 1857 to 1903. The house has fallen on hard times in recent years and has experienced some turnover in ownership. Is there tragedy that lingers in Lewis Loder’s home or is it just a coincidence of misfortune?
Further down on Front Street, those who take the tour will learn about the history and tragedies of the Petersburg Distillery, once the most productive whiskey distillery in Kentucky, before it was dismantled in the 1910s. Guides will also share the pre-history of the town which is built on the site of a Fort Ancient Indian community dating to from about AD1200 to AD1600. These people buried their loved ones within the village. As a result, many burials exist under the homes and streets of Petersburg. In 2004, a cemetery of Fort Ancient people was documented on Front Street.
Blending the history of a community and its homes with mysterious events has proven to generate interest and promote the value of preservation. Members of the library, the Preservation Board, and P.I.N.K (Paranormal Investigators of Northern Kentucky) have joined forces to provide a provocative tour of Petersburg that will entice the curious with unusual tales. After all, who doesn’t like a good ghost story?