Blues, booze, bullet holes and human remains: The spooky stories behind Indiana’s oldest bar

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Established in 1850, the Slippery Noodle Inn is Indiana’s oldest continually operated bar in its original building. With that distinction comes a lot of history: as a former hot spot for mobsters, a watering hole during Prohibition, a haven for runaway slaves and even as a bordello.

For the past 55 years, “The Noodle” has been owned by the Yeagy family, who turned it into one of the nation’s top blues bars (according to Rolling Stone), featuring live music seven nights a week.

(Photo Credit: Yelp Indy via Jason H.)

Located in the heart of downtown Indianapolis, just one block from Lucas Oil Stadium at 372 S. Meridian Street, the Slippery Noodle touts a long a long list of famous patrons including Harrison Ford, Peyton Manning, Jimmy Fallon, Billy Joel, Dan Aykroyd and Robert De Niro, just to name a few.

Dan Akyroyd with owner Hal Yeagy

However, their most interesting patrons might actually be their dead ones.

“There are some people who come here specifically because they want to see if they can feel a presence or see something with their own eyes,” said Sara Etherington, events coordinator for the Slippery Noodle.

Etherington says she’s heard of 13 different entities who call the Slippery Noodle home, many of whom the staff have named--like the Boss Man, the Shadow Man and Sarah upstairs, who may or may not have made an appearance during a wedding that took place there.

“Their limo driver just sat back here with them and after the ceremony they were having lunch up front and he said ‘Who was that woman in the balcony? Did you guys hire a photographer or something?'” recalled Etherington. “And he described Sarah… described her to a tee.”

But one of the Noodle’s most well-known entities is known simply as “George in the basement.”

The stairs down to the basement (Photo Credit: @SliperyNoodle Instagram)

“One of the keg delivery guys came in and he’s going into the basement, flipped on the lights and he described George,” Etherington said. “He said George was right in his face and he left the building and said he would never deliver here again.”

The basement is undeniably eerie, yet full of history.

Four Things You Need to Know About the Slippery Noodle Inn:

  • Etherington says the staff is more than happy to take customers on a tour, but it’s always a good idea to call ahead just in case it’s a busy night.
  • The Slippery Noodle isn’t just a place for great nightlife and spooky ghost stories. They also offer a full menu. Plus, during the week, they open at 11 a.m. and are quite popular for the lunch crowd. They are jam-packed on game days during football season, full of Colts fans bleeding blue.
  • The Slippery Noodle Inn was established in 1850 (when it was originally named the Tremont House). It is Indiana’s oldest continually operating bar. Over the past 168 years, it has served as a way station on the Underground Railroad, a watering hole during Prohibition, a mobster hangout and now—as one of Rolling Stone’s top blues bars in the nation.
  • They feature live music seven nights a week and you never know who you may see inside. They have a long list of celebrity patrons, including Peyton Manning, who frequently stopped by after Colts home games.

“They used to make whiskey down there [during The Prohibition]. They’ve found human bones down there. There’s definitely something that’s buried down there,” she said.

Pause.

Something buried?

No, that’s not a bunch of "hocus pocus" meant to send a chill up your spine. Apparently, many years ago, there was a flood in the basement. Then, when the waters receded, something interesting happened.

“There was an area that was significantly sunken so the owner, Hal [Yeagy], had a contractor come in and he said, ‘That just means there’s something buried here, so we can dig it up or you can pave it,'” said Etherington. “But Hal is very much a believer… so he had a priest come bless the area and paved it all.”

During the Civil War, the building served as a way station on the Underground Railroad.

(Photo Credit: @SliperyNoodle Instagram)

“Slaves would hide out in this building and then catch a train north,” she explained.

While touring the basement, Etherington pointed out a tiny room that may have served as a hiding spot for slaves during that time. Tiny and ominous, she said it’s a room that—in all her days of working here—she has refused to enter.

“Something just doesn’t feel right,” she said.

Upstairs, they’ve recreated a room from the days when the Slippery Noodle was a brothel. It served as such until 1853 when (according to the Slippery Noodle Inn’s website), “Two customers of the bordello got into an argument over one of the women, one killing the other and leaving the bloody knife on the bar.”

On the main floor, in the same large back room where you can watch some of your favorite bands, you’ll see shotgun blasts on the wall—left behind by the notorious Dillinger and Brady gangs.

“They say they used it for target practice… So whether there was someone standing there ever, we don’t know,” said Etherington. “But there’s still a couple bullets embedded in the wall.”

Bullet slugs still embedded in the wall of Slippery Noodle's back room (Photo Credit: @SliperyNoodle Instagram)

Etherington admits some of the stories and alleged sightings at the Slippery Noodle still give her goosebumps. So how does she keep coming back night after night alone—or maybe—not so alone?

“I talk out loud when I’m alone in here,” she said. “I say ‘It’s just me. I’m just doing some paperwork, whether you’re here or not, we’re good.'”

For more information on the Slippery Noodle Inn, check out their website by clicking here. To see more photos and reviews by local Yelpers, check out their Yelp profile. You can also connect with them on social media via Facebook or Instagram.

If you’re looking for more spooky fun, check out these other central Indiana attractions that are also rumored to be haunted:

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