The Brown Hotel

Originally, the property at 335 West Broadway was home to residences and Solger’s Confectionery and ice cream parlor. But after seeing how popular the Seelbach Hotel was at the dawn of the 20th-century, local businessman and developer James Graham Brown bought the plot of land on the corner of Fourth and Broadway in 1920. His vision of building an opulent hotel became a reality when The Brown Hotel opened in 1923.                           Grand opening for The Brown was majestic as Mr. Brown spared no expense, bringing in the Paul Whiteman Orchestra to perform at a huge party. Mr. Brown didn’t forget about the little people who made everything possible. After construction was completed in less than 12 months, he put together a massive dinner for them.                                                                       The Brown was a hit and became one of the premier places to stay in Louisville. However, when hotel chef Fred K. Schmidt came up with ‘The Hot Brown’ it took things to a whole new level, and it became a staple at the hotel for guests and locals. Unfortunately, in the 1930s things took a turn for the worse. Prohibition made things difficult, but when the Great Depression hit, the hotel almost shut down. If not for employees agreeing to work for less pay and sometimes no pay at all, The Brown Hotel would’ve had to close. During the Great Flood of 1937, The Brown Hotel’s first floor was flooded. An employee of the hotel caught a two-pound fish in the lobby. Despite the hard times, the hotel was going through, James Graham Brown insisted on taking in people who were displaced by the water.                         As downtown Louisville went downhill in the 60s, so did The Brown. When Mr. Brown passed away in 1969, the writing was on the wall. Two years later, the hotel had to shut down, and the building became an office building for the Louisville school system until 1993 when the building was purchased by some investors. Mass renovations were needed to bring The Brown back to its glory days. During the renovations, a gamble was made by new ownership. Dividing walls were torn down in between rooms. This which decreased the number of rooms from 600 to 293 by making the rooms bigger and nicer. The Brown created a demand that wasn’t there before, and now it has become one of the most popular places to stay in Louisville.                                               Given its rich history, it’s no surprise that guest and former employees believe that The Brown is haunted. Former doormen tell stories of watching as the revolving doors slowly turning with no one coming in or out.                         Mr. Brown had an apartment on the 15th floor. Ever since his death, the elevator makes stops on the 15th floor even when no one in the elevator has pressed the button for that floor. Guests on the 14th floor have reported hearing heavy footsteps, whispers and other strange noises coming from above. Mr. Brown’s ghost has even been known to make an appearance in the mezzanine of the hotel on occasion. He was also known to smoke cigars. Employees have claimed to smell cigar smoke in various parts of the smoke-free hotel from time to time.                         To learn more about The Brown Hotel and over 60 other haunted places around Louisville check out the Louisville Ghost Map in the iTunes App Store for only $1.99.

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