Rathskeller Room - Atlas Obscura

AO Edited

Rathskeller Room

Seelbach Hotel

A ceramic-tiled room at the Seelbach Hotel said to have secret tunnels used by Al Capone and a crowd that helped inspire F. Scott Fitzgerald's 'The Great Gatsby.' 


This spooky subterranean grotto ballroom is called the Rathskeller. Located in Louisville’s Seelbach Hotel, it’s the only surviving room in the world completely encrusted in Rookwood pottery, from stem to stern, and has a powerfully creepy vibe.

The Bavarian-style Rathskeller Room was constructed of Rookwood Pottery in 1907. A unique work of art and the only room of its kind in the world that’s still intact, this room is an ornate, preserved part of American history. The decorations of the room were drawn by hand on the clay before firing; the design was a part of the ware. After baking, various glazes were added in subsequent firings. A portion of the ceiling is made of leather and was painted with intricate designs (including the 12 signs of the zodiac).

Al Capone is said to have used secret tunnels in and out of the place as part of his organized crime operation. When F. Scott Fitzgerald was a young soldier stationed at Camp Zachary Taylor, he came into Louisville and was a frequent visitor at the Seelbach Hotel’s subterranean bar. The time Fitzgerald spent there allegedly inspired parts of The Great Gatsby.

The hotel is also chock-full of ghost stories. Its most infamous ghost is known as the “Lady in Blue,” said to be the spirit of a young woman who died in one of the hotel’s elevator shafts.

Community Contributors
Added by

September 20, 2023

Make an Edit Add Photos
In partnership with KAYAK

Plan Your Trip

From Around the Web