SOUTHGATE, Ky. — Thursday marked 43 years since a fire ravaged the Beverly Hills Supper Club and killed 165 people in 1977. Today's memorial would mark the last time survivors of the blaze will be able to commemorate the incident at the site, as developers will soon redevelop the land later this year.
Former club employee David Brock told WCPO 9 that he thinks it's about time the now overgrown land be given a new purpose.
"I think it's a great thing. It's been 43 years. It should've been done a long time ago," he said.
A memorial was scheduled for 4-8 p.m. Thursday, with groups of 10 or less -- to abide by Gov. Andy Beshear's pandemic orders -- walking up to pay respects at the makeshift memorial constructed roughly 20 years ago at the site located near the interchange between U.S. 27 and Interstate 471 in Southgate, Kentucky.
Brock said plans for a new memorial at the site are in the works.
"In a year, year and a half, it looks like we'll have a memorial at the top of the hill, too. There will be a marker up there to identify where the building was where everyone had perished," he said. "At the bottom of the hill where the new drive will be will be four markers to explain exactly what happened that evening."
Brock, who worked at the club as a banquet bus boy, recalled the moments shortly after the fire broke.
"Everything started exploding out the Zebra Room up the spiral staircase," he said. "It was like a freight train of heat coming out of the Zebra Room."
He said if it was 43 years ago, it could have been a day.
"It seems like yesterday. It'll never change. I'll never forget this as long as I live."
The night club was known for its opulence and its homages to cities like Las Vegas and Los Angeles' Hollywood neighborhood. The venue drew acts like Frankie Valli, Phyllis Diller, Redd Foxx, John Davidson, James Brown, the Righteous Brothers and Rich Little, to name a few.
Ashely Builders Group and Vision Realty Group will transform the grounds into a $65 million residential development. The 80-acre development will be named Memorial Point, to commemorate the site's tragic history.
The city of Southgate approved the project earlier this month, pending a zoning change to the property before the Campbell County Fiscal Court. A zoning hearing was scheduled for July 14.