Take a tour of this apartment above a tavern–it’s so nice that even the ghosts don’t want to leave!
The house seems too cute to be haunted.
Owners Charlie Zimmerman and Leslie Blair named their tavern “Three Spirits” to reference their three-person family, as well as the three spirits (beer, wine and bourbon) that they feature on the menu. The name took on a whole other meaning when they began to hear and see the former residents of the house…who had been dead for decades.
The beautiful building has been converted into a tavern on the first floor and an apartment on the second floor. The apartment has been used as a short-term residence for the owners, as well as a guest suite for visiting family. It will soon be an Airbnb rental.
The apartment’s original features–fireplaces, wood floors, 10′ ceilings–are complemented by new-yet-classic elements in the kitchen and bathroom. As you’ll see, the furniture and walls have been accessorized by the owner of another Bellevue business, Ampersand Home, making the rooms cozy and inviting.
The tavern itself is also an inviting space, created out of the original living and dining rooms of the house and offering outdoor seating in the lot next door. One of their signature drinks, the Funken Old Fashioned, is named after the home’s original owner, Nick Funken. Nick was a coal broker, so the drink includes a black ice cube that resembles a lump of coal.
In the episode, Charlie explains what it’s like to live and work with the spirits that still inhabit the property. “They’re not evil,” he says. He and Leslie are happy to be able to preserve the house and make it a vibrant part of the Bellevue Entertainment District.
Thank you to the sponsors of this episode:
The staging for the apartment was provided by Ampersand Home in Bellevue, KY. At its core, Ampersand Home is a retail experience. As a brick-and-mortar establishment, &Home offers an exceptional amalgam of home goods, art, and design, creating a singular, immersive venue that encourages perusing, discovery, and imagination. &Home carefully and handsomely curates a mingled collection of hand-crafted/artisanal home goods, antiques, up-cycled and repurposed furnishings, and home décor for all tastes & styles. Find the inspiration for each of your rooms.
More information about the property
Read some of the Three Spirits ghost stories here.
Learn more about Three Spirits Tavern here.
Learn more about the City of Bellevue here.
Additional photos of the property (slide show)
If you’d rather read than watch, here is a transcript of the episode:
Jill Morenz, host: Hello and welcome to another episode of Beyond the Curb, River City Living. I’m Jill Morenz with the Catalytic Fund. Today I’m going to give you a tour of the apartment above the Three Spirits Tavern in Bellevue, Kentucky, and I’m going to tell you the three meanings behind that name.
This episode is sponsored by Commonwealth Bank & Trust. When it comes to banking, what matters to them is YOU. Let Commonwealth show you what it means to have a banker in the family.
It’s also sponsored by Towne & Country Realty House, serving residential home buyers and sellers by making real estate easy, simple, and convenient.
Owners Charlie Zimmerman and Leslie Blair named their tavern “Three Spirits,” because they are family of three and they wanted to feature three spirits on their drinks menu, bourbon, wine, and beer. The name turned out to have a third meaning, when they realized that the house is haunted. Charlie explains how they found the property.
Charlie Zimmerman, homeowner: So I was actually showing the property to a friend of ours and he was looking in Bellevue and he was looking down the street a little bit, and we saw this home came up for sale. And I said, “Hey man, there’s a house just going to market. It’s in Bellevue. It’s a hot area. You know, you want to take a look at it.” He drove by and he said, “No, that’s on the avenue, it’s too busy, I don’t want to look at it.” Well, I told my wife, you know, we’ve been looking at Newport and we couldn’t really find that right home that we wanted. And I said, “Let’s take a look at this house over on Fairfield avenue.” She said, “Okay.”
We came here and it was a beautiful home, 12 foot ceilings, natural woodwork everywhere. But the key thing was, it was on four city lots. I looked at her and said, “Somebody’s going to buy this and convert it into a tavern.” Ultimately, you know, we decided to go with a place that was posh, but not pretentious. You walk in and it feels very warm and inviting and comfortable. And that’s really what all this woodwork is about. So when you come in here it reminds you of going back in time a little bit but still has that modern feel to it. This building has so much developed character to it. From the, we are the second owners of the property. The original owners was Nick Funkin who built the home in 1883 for his family.
[Jill] The private entrance and stairs take you to the second floor apartment. This apartment was used by the owners as temporary housing for themselves while they were moving. And also as a guest house and they will be using it as an Airbnb rental. It’s been staged by Ampersand Home which is also located in Bellevue. The apartment has 10 foot ceilings and original details, like the mantle, and wood floors. This pretty bedroom is quite large and has its own mantle and a transom window above the door. The large windows look out over Fairfield avenue, which is part of the Bellevue entertainment district.
[Charlie] The apartment upstairs was originally, we were going to have an Airbnb was the thought, but then we decided we needed to live here and really help develop and get the business going. So we moved upstairs into a very beautiful redone apartment but having three people live in a small one bedroom apartment [was challenging]. So we decided to go ahead and buy a home here in Bellevue, which is where I’m from. I grew up here, third generation. And we bought a home up here and now upstairs will soon be an Airbnb, where people can stay and enjoy the historic downtown Bellevue.
[Jill] They opened up a pass-through into the kitchen where everything is new but has a timeless style that blends perfectly with the house. At this end of the apartment there’s a laundry area and a completely redone bathroom, again, with that classic style. I loved hearing the ghost stories about the house. Charlie and Leslie are at ease with the spirits
[Charlie] Sharing the house with people who still inhabit it is interesting. Because you might hear them, you might see them. A lot of times you hear them talking. Sometimes you hear them walking. But all in all, they’re not evil. You know, they just kind of live here and inhabit it with you. It takes a little bit of getting used to, but after that, you’re fine. The people that we bought the home from, they have come back here and really enjoyed what we’ve done to it. So for them, this is where they had the Christmas tree. This is where you had Thanksgiving dinner where all those families would come over. So to see it in this particular environment now really brings a lot of joy to them.
Coming back here from being away in the military for a number of years, and college and starting my own life and family, really is a good home coming. One of the things I’ve always loved about Bellevue and a lot of people don’t know it, is that it’s very “Americana” in a sense that when we have our Memorial day parade, we have people from the school, the band plays, the churches are there. The teachers are handing out popsicles and candy to the kids. And at the very, very end you see the council people and the mayor walk together, no political advertisement. It’s just people in the community. And that’s what Bellevue’s about. So coming back here and opening a business to really embrace that and have them embrace us. It’s just like coming home to me.
[Jill] Thank you so much for joining me on our tour of this apartment and Tavern in Bellevue, Kentucky, that’s so nice even the ghosts don’t want to leave. I invite you to take a look at our website beyondthecurb.org for other episodes and information about our in-person tours. On behalf of the Catalytic Fund and our sponsors, I’m Jill Morenz. Thanks for coming beyond the curb with us.