The Story Inn is Indiana's oldest country inn

David Owens

Plainfield, United States

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The Story Inn is Indiana’s oldest country inn, located where the Brown County State Park meets the Hoosier National Forest. It is a winding 20 minute drive south of Nashville (the county seat with a population of nearly 800 souls, possessing all three of the county’s traffic lights), past weather-beaten barns, covered bridges, clapboard churches and the finest fall foliage the Hoosier state has to offer.

The Story Inn is actually an entire town, founded as a logging community in 1851. It is perhaps the best preserved example of a 19th Century village that survives in the American Midwest.

The little town/inn is dominated by the old General Store, replete with its pot-bellied stove, creaky wood floors, and Gold and Red Crown gas pumps out front. The General Store is now a gourmet restaurant which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a neighborhood pub in the basement. The remaining buildings in town—the Old Mill, the Sawmill, and several homes and out-buildings—serve as overnight accommodations or facilities for weddings, family reunions or other special events.

On the last Saturday of each April the little town of Story briefly comes alive when it hosts the Indiana Wine Fair.

Statement from the Owner:
I am a skeptic. As a person trained in the scientific method, I cannot take seriously any assertion that cannot be proved right or wrong. By the same token, I cannot dismiss any phenomenon or subject as being unworthy of scientific study. That is why I am in a quandary about the legend of the Story ghost.

When I first purchased the Story Inn in early 1999, I personally examined the old guest books which were kept in the various rooms. I was flabbergasted to find numerous handwritten stories of ghost sightings, particularly in the rooms above the restaurant. These accounts were signed and dated by Inn guests over the years.

Most remarkably, I found consistent reports of ghost sightings from one guest book to the next. When the books fill up, the Inn retires them to the attic, to join a veritable treasure trove of very dusty Brown County memorabilia. Obviously, the guests writing in subsequent books could not have been influenced by the written accounts of the apparition recorded in earlier books (that is, unless our guests have been habitually skulking through our attic in the dead of night to retrieve, read and replace the old guest books, and then returning to their rooms to plagiarize an account of this strange phenomenon).

I have no reason to doubt the credibility of these persons, and would observe that they had no ulterior motive at work. I have provided just a few excerpts from these guest books below, all of them written before this website came into existence.

Many eyewitnesses believe that the ghost, known locally as the “Blue Lady” because she can supposedly be summoned by turning on a blue light in one of the rooms above the restaurant, is one of the wives of Dr. George Story. I found a peculiar number of reports about her written in the guest books of what was then called the “Garden Room”. This room’s history is so remarkable that we renamed it after the “Blue Lady” in 2001.

Many of the Story Inn’s employees have also had their own encounters, and believe in the ghost. Much to my chagrin, I now find myself nodding in agreement with them, and referring to the “ghost” as if she really exists. I guess that once you’ve seen a ghost, you’re not to be persuaded that they do not exist.

Personally, I still do not believe in the Blue Lady (though I may change my mind if she someday appears to me, and submits to a deposition and blood draw). I will report that in 2006, when we renovated the bathroom of the “Blue Lady” room, we found water inexplicably running as we opened the building on three consecutive days. I was the last one to leave each of the previous evenings, and I am certain that the one valve in question had been turned off each time I locked the building behind me.

We continue the tradition of supplying guest books in each of the rooms, and I am happy to make them available to anyone who wishes to see them. I will observe that the new accounts (there are hundreds) are somewhat less credible than the old, due to the chatter on the Internet. For that reason, I have limited the accounts below to a few of those which preceded me here.

More details:

Featured in RURAL AROUND THE GLOBE Group – November 2011

Artwork Comments

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