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The Witches Tree

In a Halloween-themed memory, Kentucky Life took a look back at a segment on The Witches Tree in Louisville.

The DuPont Mansion and Inn at the Park dates back to 1887, when it was built by Russell Houston, then president of the L and N Railroad. The showpiece mansion remains an impressive attraction to this day. But as with many notable old buildings, there are ghost stories associated with the DuPont.

“Back in the 1890s, not too long after the place was built, Annie Whipple was hired as a tutor for the children of the family,” says author Dave Domine. “One of the children was deathly ill. [Whipple] was trying to contact the spirit of this doctor; she was conducting kind of a séance. The doctor who she thought would be able to cure this child had just died the day before, so she reached out to try to contact him on the other side.”

But according to the story, Whipple’s actions, though well-intended, led to her demise. She met a witch at the tree, now called the Witches Tree, at the corner of Park and Sixth Street.

“A rogue spirit intercepted the messages and ended up killing Annie Whipple as a way of sort of teaching her a lesson for dabbling in the black arts,” says Domine.

For those who believe, Whipple’s ghost may still be lurking around the mansion.

“The guests that have stayed here have reported a number of different events,” says Herb Warren, co-owner of DuPont Mansion and Inn at the Park. “One of the guests I had among this business group began explaining a certain thing that he saw on the second floor. He described it as a transparent woman. The other gentleman at the breakfast table, his eyes widened like saucers and he said, ‘That’s what I saw!’

“A woman has been seen coming down the sweeping stairway, dressed in what appears to be Victorian garb,” says Warren. “The woman disappeared as she neared the bottom of the stairs.”

This segment is part of Kentucky Life episode #2504, which originally aired on October 26, 2019. Watch the full episode.