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Bethlehem Academy

Bethlehem Academy

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  • Date Posted: May 6, 2014
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  • Address: Bethlehem Academy Road, Elizabethtown, KY 42701, USA

Bethlehem Academy – Elizabethtown, Kentucky

Bethlehem Academy is located in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. Elizabethtown, Kentucky is presently situated in the county of Hardin. Hardin County is in the center-northern part of Kentucky, and borders seven other counties as well as the state border of Tennessee. Within Hardin County, Elizabethtown is in the far eastern part of Hardin County. Elizabethtown was, as of 2010, a city with over 28,000 people residing in it. Elizabethtown’s popular nickname is E-town, sometimes shown without the dash (Etown). Elizabethtown was founded in 1795 and was named for Colonel Andrew Hynes’s wife, who was probably named Elizabeth. Bethlehem Academy is now someone’s home and not a restaurant as many people say.

All over on the internet people say that three nuns were murdered at Bethlehem Academy when it was still an academy, but one source says otherwise. This source says that one nun did commit suicide there, but never five. There are also tales of two nuns committing suicide in Bethlehem Academy. Another story legend is that a nun got trampled by an out of control ox. The stories of some amount of nuns dying in Bethlehem Academy are very scrambled, and most likely lost in time, but either way the stories of nuns dying at the academy remain very well known.

Bethlehem Academy was established in 1819 by Bishop Flaget and the Sisters of Charity of Nizareth. The academy was originally on Fifth Street, Elizabethtown, Kentucky, but then it was moved to its present location on St. John Street right outside of Elizabethtown in 1959. Sisters Harriet Gardiner, Polly Beaven, and Nancy Lynch began teaching at the school shortly after it had been built. Bethlehem Academy was named by Father David. Bethlehem Academy was a girls academy for girls in both elementary and high school until 1970 it was coed. Bethlehem Academy may also have been a hotel or convent at some point in its history.

The hauntings at this site vary in a number of different ways. There have been apparitions of a nun in the window of Bethlehem Academy as well as outside of the academy. People have also felt cold spots strewn all throughout the main building. When the academy was a restaurant, some reported that chairs moved across the floor during business hours, and sometimes small things such as keys or pieces of jewelry are found out of place. One story of Bethlehem Academy happens after midnight. It says that if you drive past the academy any time after midnight, you will see windows opening and closing, as well as lights being turned on and off on their own within the building itself. Many report that if one is brave enough to walk up to the porch of Bethlehem Academy that they may be able to feel the negative feelings radiating off the building. Back when Bethlehem Academy was a bed and breakfast, guests of the hotel had reported hearing people talking, children weeping, and things moving about by themselves. Legend has it that many of the long dead nuns that worked at Bethlehem Academy are now buried at The Gates of Hell Cemetery, or Kasey Cemetery, which is located a little further down St. John Road, but the gravestones there are so old that no one can read them clearly.


N.A. (1996-2010) Elizabethtown, Kentucky. Retrieved 1/19/2012 from:

Wikipedia (2012) Elizabethtown, Kentucky. Retrieved 1/19/2012 from:,_Kentucky

N.A. (2008) Bethlehem Academy. Retrieved 1/19/2012 from:

N.A. (1998) Haunted Places in Kentucky. Retrieved 1/15/2012 from:

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  1. Hardin County is nowhere near the Tennessee border! Elizabethtown is less than 30 miles from Louisville, KY, which sits on the Indiana border.

  2. I’ve been to this place. Stayed 3 nights there about a month ago yes trespassed. This place is completely haunted my phone died every time. I’ve seen things. My friend acted weird. Totally freaked out and lost his mind. I went through the books in the attic and the files and seen the cult books there. It’s completely freaky. There’s blood stains underneath the carpets. The whole story of what we could get from the papers and trap upstairs is that the one nun committed suicide and then either the dad or the mom killed each other and the mom was apart of the covenant. I have one of her pages of her diary. Complete creepy shit. But I loved it.

    • You’re correct, Erica. You absolutely did trespass onto private property. Thank you for signing your name on the wall for us and for all of your other recent artwork. Please know that your IP address can be traced and since you’ve admitted to trespassing in writing, you could also be charged with any and all damages done to the property. Please discourage your friends from visiting the premises illegally. E-mail us at [email protected] if you’d like a legitimate tour where you can learn correct information about the property. Thank you.

      • Hello we have sent several emails to the email address listed and we have not be contacted back. My name is Laura and I am a physical medium I work with a group and we would like to come and spend time at the academy for an investigation. I can be contacted at [email protected]. Thank you so much.

    • That is so cool, but scary! Did you stay over night? I would love to visit the place? Are you local and know if anyone checks on the place?

      • We are the current owners of The Academy. We are there frequently and have a family member on the premises regularly. We’d be happy to schedule a tour with you. Please email [email protected] to set up a time/date!

      • We are the current owners of The Academy. We are there frequently and we have a family member on the premises regularly. We’d love to schedule a tour with you. Please email us at [email protected]

  3. The narrative above has a number of inaccuracies. Please allow me to correct them:

    First, Bethlehem Academy was run by the Sisters of Loretto, not the Sisters of Nazareth.

    It is located in north central Kentucky and is nowhere near the Tennessee border.

    It was never a convent.

    The center part of the building, the original mansion, was built in 1818 by the Helm family (later home of John Larue Helm, Governor of Kentucky.) In 1830, it was sold to the Catholic Church and the Sisters of Loretto who operated the academy as a Catholic girl’s school until mid-1950s. The nuns added the two wings to the property when they acquired it in order to use as a school.

    The school was never located on 5th Street in Elizabethtown. The nuns moved into the site, coming from Louisville in 1830. It was a school for girls from 1830 until the 1950s. When the school closed, students then were sent to Elizabethtown Catholic School run by the St. James Parish.

    The Catholic Church sold the Academy to a local farmer after the school closed (about 1959). He turned the Academy into a barn for hay storage. In the late 1970’s the academy experienced a fire that caused a lot of damage. In about 1980, it was purchased by Edith Ray, who invested what is said to be $1-3 million in its restoration. One wing of the building, where the fire started, could not be saved and was demolished. The rest was carefully restored and turned into a B&B.

    The Sisters of Loretto can and will confirm that there were no suicides or murders during their nearly 130 stewardship of the property. The only death attributed to an unnatural cause was when a nun was crushed by an ox cart in a farming accident shortly after they moved into the property in 1830.

    There was a cemetery on-site for departed nuns; but when they sold the Academy, the Catholic Church reinterred all the remains at the Sisters of Loretto Motherhouse in Nerinx, Marion County, KY. They certainly would not have buried them at a non-Catholic Cemetery such as the “Gates of Hell Cemetery, or Kasey Cemetery.”

    Many former students of the Academy still survive, and along with the Sisters, they universally reject rumors of suicide, murder and haunting during the time the nuns owned the property. These rumors only developed in recent years, long after the nuns vacated the Academy.

    There is an authoritative book, “Nostalgia,” that discusses the building’s history. Copies are located at the Brown-Pusey House or at the Ancestral Trails Historical Society, both located in Elizabethtown.

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