The Travel Channel stopped by the Ft. Thomas Military Museum in the fall for a segment on their show, "Mysteries at the Museum." The segment featuring Ft. Thomas aired on February 7, 2013 and focused on a piece of rusted metal displayed at the museum. Yes, you read that right - camera crews descended upon our town for a piece of old, rusted metal.
There's much more to this artifact than meets the eye. Gloria Sisk, the museum's curator, discussed the significance of the piece to cameras. "This mangled metal is an eerie reminder of a horrible tragedy that took place in Kentucky," said Sisk. So what is the piece of rusty, mangled metal? It's the remains of a cash register from Beverly Hills Supper Club. This artifact is certainly interesting, but not nearly as interesting as what was to come in the rest of the segment.
"Beverly Hills was the Las Vegas of the East, it's where the common man came to mix and mingle with the famous and the infamous," said Sisk. Before Beverly Hills was a major attraction in the area, it was a mob hotspot. The mafia used the building for gambling and other illegal activities until it was shut down by authorities in the 1960s. In 1971, It reopened under new management as the glitzy, glamours Beverly Hills Supper Club we remember today.
This legendary local hotspot was the site of a devastating fire on May 28, 1977 Due to the fire, 165 people died and 200 were injured. The official reports state that the fire was due to faulty wiring, however, many believe there was something else behind the deadly blaze.
There were a lot of factors that contributed to the tragic events of May 28, 1977 - faulty wiring, overcrowding, no sprinkler system, locked exits, unmarked exits, and a lack of an audible fire alarm. The building was clearly a fire hazard, but does that mean it was an accident? Writer Robert Webster appeared on camera to discuss the conspiracy theory surrounding the fire. Webster penned The Beverly Hills Supper Club Fire: The Untold Story Behind Kentucky's Worst Tragedy, which explores the possibility of the mob's role in the fire.
According to Webster, a former busboy came forward in 2003 to reveal some suspicious behavior he witnessed while working at Beverly Hills on May 28, 1977. The former employee claims to have seen "maintenance men" working in the zebra room. They were supposedly working on air conditioning units, but the zebra room actually did not have any air conditioning units. Another former waitress has also come forward with claims that would back up Webster's conspiracy theory. The former waitress allegedly witnessed men "cleaning" the walls in the main hallway with a liquid.
This might all seem like a strange coincidence, but investigators were later able to identify scorch patterns in the building's remains. Could these scorch patterns have been the result of a liquid accelerant sprayed along the hallway earlier that day by the men "cleaning" or "maintaining" the building? The mafia had a motive. They wanted their building back, and had allegedly threatened the owner previously to the fire.
The ten minute segment really only scratched the surface of the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire. It's certainly an event worthy of a documentary-length experience. If the Beverly Hills fire was the act of local mobsters, it would be classified as a mass murder. It's also disturbing to think how far the alleged cover-up potentially runs. How many people were in on the fire? Who all was involved in covering it up? The Travel Channel segment briefly discusses how the site was bulldozed before investigators arrived the next day. Obviously, I'm not that only one who finds that to be rather suspicious…
We may never know exactly what happened the night of May 28, 1977. What are your thoughts on the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire and the "Mysteries at the Museum" segment? Let us know in the comments below.