In downtown Franklin, a suburb just to the south of Indianapolis, there is a popular Franklin restaurant called The Willard. This place used to be a hotel, which undoubtedly carries its own interesting history, but originally, it was a house. Some say it was a haunted house, one of the many haunted houses in Indiana.
It all began in 1922, when the Franklin Wonder Five was on a winning streak in the high school state basketball championships. That was the year the now-historic Artcraft Theatre opened its doors to become a silent movie house, and renovations began on the soon-to-become Willard Hotel.
The venerable old brick two-story house that would be the site of the hotel was called the “Old McCaslin Hosue” back then. Eliza, Sarah and Will Judah finally opened the very best hotel in Indianapolis Southside in 1924.
They flourished along with the lovely new hotel, and soon tall, handsome Mr. Robert Black began a dignified courtship with Eliza that endured for an extended period. Then Rose came to town.
Rose was Eliza’s sister, a bad girl who showed up at the Franklin Train Station with a gambling debt and a chip on her shoulders. Soon Robert began to change and Eliza began to suspect he was going off with her
ne’er-do-well sister. One fateful day in the cool of October, Eliza heard a crash in the kitchen, walked in and discovered Robert and Rose together on the kitchen table, “in full coital compromise,” the unmistakable aroma of tequila filling the air.
The rest of the story is as insubstantial as the fog that surrounded the hotel on that fateful day. Some say Rose bade her time until she could exact her deepest revenge. Others say she simply ran everyone out of the hotel and lived her life out as an empty husk of the vibrant person who, for so many years in her youth, had looked forward to so much.
Of the many ghost stories and tales of haunted hotels and houses in Indianapolis, this is, without a doubt, the raciest.