With Halloween fast approaching, it’s the time of year to visit these reportedly haunted bars in and near Houston. Of course, even if you don’t believe in ghosts, these places are fun to visit; if you do seriously believe in this stuff, take comfort in the fact that there are zero reports of any of these spirits actually harming anybody, apart from scaring the crap out of people. Go forth and check these places out if you dare; we know you adventurous types will.
(Note: This list is in alphabetical order.)
THE BREWERY TAP
The story here is that the original owner of the Brewery Tap bar — sometimes called William — was killed by the Mafia during the Prohibition era and has never left the place. William supposedly has been spotted sitting in a recliner; some patrons claimed to have talked with him, or maybe they just had way too much to drink that night. A framed photo alleged to be of William sitting next to a patron is on display, and some of the bartenders have other photos of his likeness they will share with you when you visit. Another story is that the ghost of William saved the life of a barmaid; a local company that conducts ghost tours stops by and guests are given EMF meters to determine if a ghost is present. (717 Franklin, mainstreethub.com/brewerytaphouston)
Open since 1977 in a building dating back to 1918, Fitzgerald's is a Heights musical staple where many Houstonians have ventured out to see prominent national acts and local bands just starting out. In a 2013 article, Houston Press writer Jef Rouner recalled how when he staged a month-long run of Hedwig and the Angry Inch back in 2004, folks involved with the production reported the power on the mixing board at Fitz would turn off and on by itself and objects moved by themselves when no one was looking, activities the staff casually attributed to a ghost. Rouner also reported that other local musicians he communicated with reported similar strange occurrences at Fitzgerald’s, including “weird shit” showing up in photos of bands performing onstage. Perhaps the most recent round of renovations at Fitz will have scared any ghosts remaining there away? (2706 White Oak, fitzgeraldshouston.com)
GALVEZ BAR & GRILL @ HOTEL GALVEZ
Built in 1911, the majestic Hotel Galvez has a number of ghosts haunting the place, according to true believers; at the very least, you can encounter some spirits of a different kind by dropping into the hotel's Galvez Bar & Grill. Galvez actually offers a ghost tour dinner package that is open to everyone during the month of October and not just hotel guests; the Discovery Channel and The Travel Channel have aired programs that featured the hotel and its ghosts. One ghost often spotted on the fifth floor is known as "The Love Lorn Lady," who reportedly hung herself in room No. 501 after hearing that her fiancé's ship had sunk during a powerful storm; the fiancé is said to have shown up to greet his bride-to-be a few days later. Other ghosts include Sister Katherine, a nun killed during the 1900 storm; children that Katherine cared for in a Galveston orphanage who died in the storm are also said to haunt the hotel. (2024 Seawall Blvd, Galveston, hotelgalvez.com)
Located in Houston's oldest commercial building, which dates back to 1847, La Carafe is said to be haunted by a former bartender — or bar manager, depending on who's telling the story — named Carl; some claim to have heard a disembodied voice shouting out “last call” there on occasion, and have attributed it to Carl. Employees have reported hearing footsteps, breaking glass and heavy objects moving around upstairs when no one was supposed to be up there; other people claim to have seen Carl’s silhouette through a second-floor window after closing time. Another ghost rumored to haunt La Carafe is the “Lady in White,” who supposedly has pushed attractive women down the stairs; this is said to be the ghost of a woman who ran a boarding house near La Carafe years ago that was rumored to be a house of prostitution. There is also said to be a Lady in White who haunts the stairs of Hendley Row in Galveston, which makes us a bit skeptical of this story; true believers say they have photos of orbs and mists and have felt cold spots in La Carafe. (813 Congress, facebook.com/La-Carafe)
Recently opened in October, Ministry Houston is just the latest after-hours club to occupy the basement space at 709 Franklin. Longtime Houstonians fondly remember the location back when it was Power Tools in the '80s and '90s; infamous dance club Kryptonite was the most recent previous occupant. This venue is huge: At 22,000 square feet, it occupies an entire city block. Built in 1890, and perhaps because of its age, creepy underground setting and proximity to The Brewery Tap, the place has a reputation for being haunted. Some patrons of the various nightclubs that have called this space home claim to have seen mysterious, unexplained shadowy figures moving around in areas where no people were apparently present, and have felt icy-cold spots. (709 Franklin, facebook.com/MinistryHouston)
MOLLY'S PUB (DOWNTOWN)
Molly's has pool, darts and pub food in addition to the alcohol — everything an Irish bar should have, basically. It always has one of the biggest Saint Patrick's Day parties downtown. Apparently it also has some spirit activity of a different sort: Some female bartenders have reportedly seen the ghost of a murdered homeless lady, and patrons have seen the silhouette of a woman in the ladies’ restroom stalls and other spots. Like many of the bars on our list, the building is old, especially by Houston standards, having been built in 1890. You ever notice you never hear about people who died two years ago haunting a building that was erected in 2012? Just sayin’. (509 Main, facebook.com/MollyPub)
Industrial/punk musician Mike Terror shared with Houston Press writer Jef Rouner that he has sworn off performing at Numbers because he believes that the fatal stabbing of a man at the club in 2003 is responsible for trouble for his band onstage. "We've played Numbers three times, and every single time, everything goes to shit when we are onstage," Terror explained to Rouner via email in 2013. "Everywhere else in the venue, things are fine. But once we are onstage and it's time to set up or perform, bad energy rises, my band gets irritable, equipment messes up, performance suffers, etc.” It should be noted that Mike Terror cites Marilyn Manson as an influence and much of his music has a horror theme; many of us may wonder if Terror has a predilection for believing in the supernatural that colors his impressions of Numbers and his band’s performances there. Regardless of whether you believe the place is haunted or not, Numbers throws a good Halloween party for sure. (300 Westheimer, numbersnightclub.com)
SAMBUCA @ THE RICE LOFTS
The Rice Lofts are located in what was once the historic Rice Hotel that was built in 1912; in November 1963, President John F. Kennedy spent his last night alive in the hotel before he was assassinated the next day in Dallas. The room Kennedy stayed in is supposedly haunted; cold spots, rattling doors and beds, orbs of light and the feeling of a presence have been reported. Sambuca is located on the first floor with the Rice Lofts above; ghost dancers had been seen where the lofts now exist back when the space was a ballroom. Others claim to have seen or heard ghosts dancing on the rooftop; no direct spirit activity that we know of has been reported in Sambuca itself. Perhaps you will run into some residents at the bar who can share their own stories of hauntings in the lofts or rooftop. If not, Sambuca is worth a visit anyway for its New American food menu and great live music. (909 Texas, sambucarestaurant.com)
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Okay, Spaghetti Warehouse is known more as a restaurant but does have a full bar; what's more important, the place supposedly has a ghost or two. The building that houses Spaghetti Warehouse, built in 1912, was once a pharmaceutical warehouse; the story goes that a young pharmacist was killed when he fell down an open elevator shaft there, and his wife later died from grief over this accident. You would think these two lovers would be happy to be reunited in death as ghosts, but apparently they still hold a grudge; the two are said to move furniture, silverware and dishes around and mess with guests by pulling on their hair or tapping their shoulders. Some customers and employees say they have seen strange floating objects and felt cool spots. Spaghetti Warehouse is arguably the most famous haunted place in Houston. (901 Commerce, meatballs.com)
TOUJOUSE BAR @ THE TREMONT HOUSE
The current Tremont House hotel in Galveston is actually the third location to be opened up under that name on the island; the current location is housed in an 1879 building that was formerly a dry goods concern. The Tremont House has two bars including The Rooftop Bar and the historic Toujouse Bar in the lobby, where you’re more likely to encounter some ghostly activity. The ghost of a Civil War soldier, who some speculate is guarding against a Union attack, has reportedly been seen or heard marching back and forth around the front lobby hallway area. Lucky Man Sam, said to be the ghost of a murdered gambler who was killed for his winnings, supposedly roams the east side of the fourth floor of Tremont House, disturbing guests by making loud banging and dragging noises in the middle of the night; the ghost of a victim of the 1900 storm becomes active on the third and fourth floors during thunderstorms, rain, lightning and strong winds; Little Boy Jimmy, the ghost of a young boy, hangs around the lobby and elevators, and according to staff has pushed glasses off the Toujouse Bar. If you’re lucky — or unlucky, depending on your point of view — maybe you will run into one or more of these ghosts during a visit. (2300 Mechanic, thetremonthouse.com)