Hugh E Birs has been serving up some of the coldest beer in New Albany since 1950. However, the spirits there have been stirring on the property since the late 19th century.
Professor Ira G. Strunk and his wife Myra were considered to be the ‘it’ couple in New Albany in the late 1880s and were respected members of the Episcopal Church. Strunk was riding high as the principal and founder of New Albany Business College. He had also recently cashed in on some real estate investments in Florida. On top of the financial success, Strunk and Myra had two lovely daughters. Everything was perfect. Not quite.
Strunk spent a lot of time at New Albany Business College, and when he wasn’t on campus, he spent weeks at a time in Florida. Myra was a part-time single mother to two girls, and her only time away from the family was when she attended choir practice. As a vocalist and an organist, Myra spent a lot of time preparing with the choir director, Charles Hoover. Eventually, the people in New Albany began to talk, and rumors of their affair made its way into a cryptic article in the local newspaper. When Professor Strunk returned after a long trip from Florida, he saw the article and went to meet with the editor. The editor initially tried to deny the article was about Myra, but he finally caved telling him that people around New Albany had seen Hoover going in and out of the house while he was away. Professor Strunk left the newspaper’s office and started asking his neighbors if the allegations were true. All of them told him the same thing. Myra was having an affair with Charles Hoover.
Professor Strunk was beside himself. He didn’t know what to do. He was friends with Charles Hoover and could never imagine that his wife would cheat on him with someone from the church. In late December 1885, Professor Strunk left his wife and moved into a local hotel. As the months went by, Strunk sold his part of the school and quickly went into a downward spiral. Four months later, Professor Strunk crossed paths with Hoover in a store at the corner of Market Street and Pearl. This was the moment Strunk had been waiting for. This was the time for revenge. Strunk reached for his pistol, put it against the choir director’s head, and fired it. However, Strunk’s gun misfired, and Hoover started to run. Strunk tried to fire again, but he was subdued by locals in the store. The man who ruined Strunk’s life got away. A few days later Professor Strunk was arrested and charged with assault and unlawfully carrying a concealed deadly weapon.
Strunk made bail and headed to Florida. In July 1886, he decided to go back to New Albany and finish what he started with Hoover. Watching from his hotel room, Strunk waited for Hoover to pass down the street. After a day or two of waiting, Strunk finally saw Hoover walking down Market Street with his father. Professor Strunk quietly stalked the two men for a few blocks until he pulled a revolver and shot Hoover’s father twice, severely injuring him. Strunk then turned his attention to the choir director, and shot Hoover twice. As Hoover lay on the ground bleeding out just behind where Hugh E Birs is located, Strunk pistol-whipped him. The beating was so severe that the local paper described Hoover’s injuries as ‘a crushed skull’ and ‘mutilated forehead’. Once Strunk was subdued by townspeople, he put his gun away, wiped away Hoover’s blood from his face with a handkerchief, and walked quietly back to his hotel. He was arrested a few hours later.
Despite murdering a man in cold blood, many people in the church sided with Strunk as his court date approached. Several of Strunk’s students from New Albany Business College had become prominent businessmen and donated money for his defense.
Strunk plead not guilty and cited temporary insanity. The jury bought it, and the next day Strunk was found competent and allowed free once again.
Hugh E Bir’s has seen its fair share of paranormal activity over the years, but it’s not known for sure if Charles Hoover is causing it. Chairs have been known to move on their own around the building, and things come up missing only to be found a few days later in another part of the bar. Hugh E Birs also has a radio that likes to adjust its own volume. Former employees have told stories of hearing voices in different parts of the building at night when the bar is closed and no one is around.
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