Inside the history and the hauntings at the historic Culbertson Mansion

The New Albany home was built by William Culberston in 1869

History and hauntings of the Culbertson Mansion

NEW ALBANY, IN (WAVE) - People from all over come to tour the historic Culbertson Mansion in New Albany.

The home was built by William Culberston in 1869. The richest man in Indiana at the time, the downtown New Albany mansion is a work of art and filled with the finest things.

Each year, thousands of school children in Floyd County and around 15,000 visitors come to the Culbertson Mansion.

"That's the thing about this house. The people in New Albany and the surrounding areas, they've all got a story of how they're connected to this place," said Jessica Stavros, Southeast Regional Director for Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites.

A look down the staircase of the Culbertson Mansion in New Albany.
A look down the staircase of the Culbertson Mansion in New Albany. (WAVE 3 News)

You can see the inside of the historic home year round. In the fall, the grounds transform into a spooky and fun haunted house. The oldest haunted house in Kentuckiana, spooky fun fills the grounds on weekends here and has for the last 35 years.

But it seems every day, people coming by have one question.

"Is it haunted?" Stavros said. "And my response to that is, do you believe in ghosts?"

Employees have tried to answer that over the years.

"The staff has been keeping a file here since 1977 of different things that happen that they can't explain," Stavros said.

Some visitors have seen strong puffs with the strong scent of cigar smoke despite no one smoking nearby. But a deceased family member that lived at the mansion in decades past did smoke a cigar, Stavros said.

Other disturbances go unexplained, like the sight of figures walking around or lights turning on and off.

"For many years, generations of people believed the stories that the house is inhabited by spirits," Stavros said. "From electricity to sounds to, you know there have even been reports of seeing people that aren't there."

"There's a policeman who answered an alarm one night, this was probably 15 or 20 years ago," Stavros said ."The alarm went off in the middle of the night and the curator at the time came to meet him and they did a walk through the house and when they were leaving he said, 'Well are you going to get her? Are we going to leave her in there'? And she said 'Well, I don't know who you're talking about. It's just me and you in here,' and that policeman will not respond to calls here anymore.

The Culbertson Mansion is the oldest haunted house in Kentuckiana.
The Culbertson Mansion is the oldest haunted house in Kentuckiana. (WAVE 3 News)

Many who've seen things here aren't sure what to believe.

"I have seen things I could not explain," Stavros said.

Whether you're here for the history or Culbertson's haunted past, the mansion has a way of drawing people in.

Each visit to the mansion helps pay for restoration of the historic home here, bringing in more than $1-million over the years to bring the home back to its original beauty.

Students on field trips often remember the tours, especially seeing the punishment closet for naughty kids.

A turn-of-the-century maid's uniform in the Culbertson Mansion.
A turn-of-the-century maid's uniform in the Culbertson Mansion. (WAVE 3 News)

Visitors bring cameras, hoping to snap a photo or catch a glance of the ghostly figure of the beloved maid who died in the home.

"Those stories are what bring this house to life. It's really about the people that come through it rather than the house itself," Stavros said.

Tours won't always answer questions about the ghostly history here. But each visitor's journey through the mansion's mystery and beauty ensures the Culbertson's history here lives on.

"We're a sight that keeps people coming back," Stavros said.

The Culbertson Mansion is closed Mondays but is open for tours daily. The haunted house is open at Culbertson Mansion at 7 p.m. on weekends.

For more information, visit the Culbertson Mansion website here.

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