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Bethlehem Academy: ghostly hauntings at a once-abandoned Kentucky school for girls

Updated: Nov 1, 2021

Built in 1818, Bethlehem Academy is a historic landmark in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. Constructed by Bishop Flaget and the Sisters of Charity in Nazareth, Bethlehem Academy was a school for girls that can be found off St. John Road of Hardin County.

In 1830, Mother Agnes the Sisters of Loretto started a boarding school for girls in this mansion, adding another wing to the home in 1848. The school had room for twenty-five students who came during the day, and seventy-five students who lived on site, teaching grades 1st-12th. The nuns worked on the 580-acre farm raising cotton, flax, sheep, and cattle. They spun their own yarn and wove linens for the school dorm, eventually hiring farm hands to help out, allowing them to focus on education.

The school stopped it's high school education in in 1951, continuing to teach elementary school students until it officially closed in 1959. It was sold to be used for farming, but a fire ruined a portion of the mansion. Edith Ray purchased the property in 1970 and began renovations, hiring artists to paint murals along the walls. Renovations lasted until 1981. Ray's intention was to create a gathering space for artists and poets, but it doesn't appear the idea ever came to fruition.

The Academy has been converted into a number of different facilities since it closed down, including a bed-and-breakfast hotel and a restaurant. It is on the National Historic Listing and is currently for sale at $2,000,000. Oh, and it's home to ghosts, too!

There are many tales surrounding this place, according to locals. Some tell of three nuns who were brutally murdered over a misunderstanding. Others describe a suicide pact between two nuns who couldn't live with the horrible secrets of the place. There's even stories of an escaped ox from a nearby farm who charged and trampled a nun to death. No evidence can be found to prove which of these stories are the truth, if any, but no matter what happened - unexplainable phenomena continues to happen here to this very day.

There have been reports of a nun appearing in the main window as well as walking outside of the Academy. Eye witnesses report this nun as being transparent with solid black eyes which transform into gaping holes. It's not unusual to feel cold spots strewn all throughout the main building. While the Academy was a restaurant, some reported chairs moving across the floor in plain view, and small things such as keys or pieces of jewelry disappeared and were found in impossible places.

While Bethlehem Academy was a bed and breakfast, guests of the hotel had reported hearing people talking, children weeping, and things moving about all by themselves. Legend has it that many of the long-dead nuns that used to work at Bethlehem Academy are now buried at The Gates of Hell Cemetery, or Kasey Cemetery, which can be found a little further down St. John Road. However, most of the gravestones are weathered down, broken, and very old, making them almost impossible to read.

While most of the phenomena seem to happen during daylight, there are even more odd occurrences that only happen at certain times in the night. Legend says if you drive past the academy after midnight, you will see windows opening and closing, as well as lights being turned on and off even though no one is there. It's said that if one is brave enough to walk up to the porch at night, feelings of misery and torture can be felt radiating from inside.

It's understood that Bethlehem Academy is currently private property - criminal trespassing is not permitted, though private tours and paranormal investigations can be privately arranged with the current owners through their website, emailing, or calling (270) 401-9894.

You can check out a spooky tour on YouTube:


Bethlehem Academy

HARDIN COUNTY 7051 Saint John Rd

Elizabethtown, KY

United States


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