The Latin Quarter

[Collected from various sources]

The slaughterhouse fell into decay as the years passed by. No one wanted it. Decades later, a resident tore down the upper structure and created a nightclub. Eventually, the place became known as the Latin Quarter. In the 1940s, a beautiful dancing girl named Johanna worked. She fell in love with a member of the house band, believed to be the drummer. Her father forbade their relationship, but she continued behind his back. When he discovered his daughter was still seeing the band member, he hung the young man. He staged the murder to look like a suicide. In a last fit of rage and despondency, she hung herself on the catwalk above the stage. Today, her spirit is one of those who haunt the club.


As with most parts of the lore, grains of truth are found within fiction. What is most unusual is so few of the facts are associated with the legends, and the facts are much more intriguing in terms of the paranormal.

A man named E. A. “Buck” Brady opened a club called “The Green Lantern” around 1931. He grew successful enough to purchase the old slaughterhouse in 1933, where he created a second club.

Brady converted the slaughterhouse into a tavern, initially called the Blue Grass Inn, but later it was the Primrose Club. Another club owner, Red Masterson, wanted Brady’s club. In an effort to get it, he began targeting Brady.

Masterson wasn’t just any club owner, and that period of time wasn’t just any other. Newport was then the equivalent of “Sin City,” as was much of Northern Kentucky. Wilder had its own share of clubs and brothels. Masterson was an associate of the infamous Cleveland Syndicate, as operated by the Cleveland Four. Brady’s was one of the few area clubs they didn’t control. Masterson continued to pressure Brady for his operation, despite being a Syndicate representative and a manager of his own place called the Merchant’s Club.

The tension soon became physical. Brady grew tired of it and shot Masterson. Luckily, Masterson survived and didn’t even press charges. His generosity was a front for his true interest. The Syndicate offered Brady two options. He could enjoy an “early retirement” or be killed. Brady quickly moved to Florida, where he lived until his suicide in 1965. The club was renovated and enlarged. It re-opened as the Latin Quarter, under Syndicate management.

The aforementioned Cleveland Syndicate was the first national organized crime commission, starting around 1928. They originated in 1920, with the start of Prohibition. The men in charge were called the “Cleveland 4,” comprised of Sam Tucker, Morris Kleinman, Moe Dalitz, and Louis Rothkopf.

The organization gained its power through bootlegging liquor from Canada and distributing it throughout the states. They then started casinos, brothels, and other illicit operations. It’s rumored the Syndicate had a key role in the Las Vegas expansion after World War II.

From all available accounts, the Latin Quarter was more than just a bar. State police led a gambling raid against the Latin Quarter in August of 1951. Sixty-eight people were arrested, including four women wearing only bras and panties.

Trouble continued for the club. Two years later, the Latin Quarter lost its liquor license. The Kentucky Board of Alcohol Beverages Control charged them with illegal gambling.

It’s easy to imagine the kind of interrogations, or collection efforts, that likely developed while the club was under mafia control. Customers incurred gambling debt, bookies turned them in, torture and brutality ensued. The syndicate utilized the service of several men in the Newport area when violence was necessary. Two of those were Joseph “Screw” Andrews and his brother “Spider.”

It’s striking that none of the structure’s mafia history was exploited in creating the modern lore, as opposed to that of a girl who doesn’t seem to exist. The Latin Quarter was a popular club for illegal gambling, with a history that started in 1947.  There were no reported suicides at the club, certainly not a double-suicide. The next part of the lore is much simpler.


The Hard Rock Cafe Days

[Collected from various sources]

 The Latin Quarter became The Hard Rock Cafe in the 1970s. The Rock was the place for brutal bar brawls that frequently resulted in fatalities. The authorities shut it down in 1978.

The Hard Rock Cafe, mentioned in the lore, had no affiliation with the popular franchise. The Latin Quarter still suffered minor legal battles well into the 1970s. No documentation supports another club, Hard Rock Cafe or not, at that location. Newport allowed bingo for charity starting in 1970. The Latin Quarter didn’t fare any better than the other clubs. Out of all participating clubs, a whopping $359,000 was brought in after two months. A mere $7,000 had gone to charity.


Mackey’s Era

Bobby Mackey purchased the defunct facility in 1978 and turned it into the famous attraction it is today. Stories of paranormal activity, and even attacks, continue to be reported.

It’s plausible that Bobby Mackey’s may be paranormally active, but not because of an obscure dancer’s suicide, an unrelated murder, or simple shootings at an eatery. The building has seen abject human exploitation, rampant vice, organized crime, and a century of negativity that would’ve left an impression on any structure.



This article series appears in Appalachian Curiosities.
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