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La Carafe



La Carafe is a bar set in time, hosted in the oldest continuously owned property in the massive city. This cash-only bar beckons a sense of nostalgia, harkening visitors back to a time when Houston was a rough upstart of a town in the newly formed state of Texas. The brick building was built in 1837 and has continued to host the patrons and workers of various businesses. However, some of these old patrons and former employees never left.

 

Quick Facts:

 

  • Located at 813 Congress Street, the building La Carafe is in was built in 1837. Operating as Kenndey Bakery and later Kennedy Trading Post, among other enterprises. 
  • Sam Houston, the first President of the Republic of Texas, spent a night at the old Trading Post before he died in 1863. 
  • La Carafe has been serving alcohol to the citizens of Houston since 1960. In 1979 the building was deemed a Texas Historic Landmark

 

Historic Houston in the Days of The Wild West

 

Houston was founded in 1836, the same year Sam Houston’s army defeated Mexico in the Battle of San Jacinto, and Texas gained its independence. Two enterprising brothers from New York, Augustus, and John Allen, bought 6,642 acres at $1.40 per acre near the picturesque and navigatable waters of the Buffalo Bayou. 

 

When the Republic of Texas was officially created in 1837, the burgeoning city was deemed the capital and named after the Republic’s founder. It would remain the capital until 1839, when it moved to Austin.

 

The early city was a swampy no man’s land. Dotted with wooden shacks, lean-tos, and rowdy taverns, it was eagerly populated by Americans voracious for land and adventure.  Food was hard to come by, and transportation was limited, creating a rough living. 

 

This encouraged the Allen brothers to open up a lodging house, free of charge, to new visitors. What little food was available was shared with newcomers to encourage prosperity in their new city. It was out of this muddy swampland that the most haunted bar in Houston would eventually come to be. 

 

The Oldest Continuously Run Property in Houston

 

The building that would later become La Carafe was built in 1837. This small wooden building was much like the others surrounding it in construction and longevity. Originally Kennedy Bakery, it would serve the hungry and hopefully of Houston’s early population until a fire destroyed it in 1859. Next door was the Kennedy Trading Post, both run by Irish immigrant and early Houstonian John Kennedy (no relation to the famous political family). 

 

The building that houses La Carafe was constructed in 1860 and continued to operate as a bakery through the Civil War. This building and the adjacent trading post would remain in the Kennedy family, operating as a stagecoach stop, slave market, munitions depot, drug store, and even a nail salon. In the 1950s, “Le Carafe” was opened as a bar and restaurant. But the beloved bar known as “La Carafe” that we know today wasn’t started until 1963. 

 

Local businessman William V. Barry purchased the building from the Kennedys that year and, other than a slight name change, left much of it untouched. There was talk of spirits and strange activities from the outset of the romantically dimly lit bar’s history. Now paranormal tourists and enthusiasts flock to Houston’s oldest continuously run property on a nightly basis to witness something out of this world.





 

The Hauntings of La Carafe

 

Carolyn Wenglar purchased La Carafe in 1988, and she has been operating the two-story historic bar since. Rumors of the bar’s spiritual occupants did not dissuade her from her purchase, and she has since relished in the good business they have brought. During a television interview in 2019, Wenglar told the story of a bar patron visiting the men’s room. He was tapped on the shoulder abruptly. 

 

Upon turning around to see who needed his attention, he was shocked to find no one there. He left and, as far as Wenglar knows, never returned. This is only one of the many stories floating amongst La Carafe’s dust-laden walls. Bartender Ted Brown claimed in the same interview that “there are always some presences around.” 

 

The second floor experiences the highest activity, an area where seances are often held in October. These spirits are not as friendly as those co-mingling with the living on the bottom floor. This section of the building has a bar, but it is only open on the weekends. A woman in white often appears at the top of the staircase. 

 

Patrons have seen her walking down the hallway to the top of the stairs. She disappears and repeats this action over and over again. If you are unlucky to meet her up there, especially if you are a woman, she will push you back down to the first floor where you belong. Other spirits that occupy the top floor are a little boy who chases a ball down the hallway and a singing woman. Confused customers hear her disembodied voice over the loud chatter of the bar. 

 

Their most famous spirit is that of a former bartender, Carl. Carl often appears in the second-floor window, disappearing shortly after being spotted. His deep and bellowing voice can be heard throughout the building. The night’s final “last call” to all who listen. 

 

Visit La Carafe Today!

 

Spirits aside, the charming old-time atmosphere of La Carafe is enticing enough for a visit. The old cash register, which often opens and closes on its own, is nearly 100 years old. There are no neon signs, candles light the room, and pictures from the 19th century hang on the dusty brick walls. 

 

If you would like to see it for yourself, take a tour with US Ghost Adventures next time you are in Houston! Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, and continue reading our blog to learn more about Houston’s most haunted locations.

 

Sources: 

 

https://www.chron.com/chrontv/this-forgotten-day-in-houstonredesign1/article/La-Carafe-Houston-s-oldest-haunted-bar-6831418.php

 

https://www.click2houston.com/news/local/2022/10/17/houstons-la-carafe-bar-tops-yelps-list-of-most-haunted-spots-in-texas/

 

https://abc13.com/haunted-houston-bars-localish-ghosts-in/5661655/

 

https://www.visithoustontexas.com/things-to-do/arts-and-culture/historic-sites/haunted-houston/

 

https://frightfind.com/la-carafe/

 

https://savingplaces.org/stories/la-carafe-in-houston-texas?gad=1&gclid=Cj0KCQjwz8emBhDrARIsANNJjS5MatW3aojoUcOBul2FRAHvSXfSrx4pq0VMEQDk_R_9UydPK8TZS6IaAhRPEALw_wcB

 

https://www.houston.org/timeline

 

https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/allen-augustus-chapman

 

https://www.visithoustontexas.com/about-houston/history/

 

https://easttexashistory.org/items/show/140

 

https://glasstire.com/2013/12/28/sights-unscene-exposition-at-la-carafe/

 

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