Haunted Places: La Carafe Bar

The La Carafe Bar is an antique bar located nearly dead center in the heart of Houston, Texas at 813 Congress Street, just off the Katy Freeway at Interstate 10. The quaint tavern serves daily visitors, local patrons and passers through, as well as serving up some fascinating ghost stories in historic downtown Houston.

Situated directly upon the foundation of the very first commercial business in Houston, the original building that is now La Carafe – believed to be the oldest bar still operating in Houston – was first erected in 1866 by John Kennedy, a baker who had moved here over 20 years prior in 1842. Kennedy started the establishment as a steam powered bakery, naming it after himself – Kennedy Bakery.

The bakery served up local fare for nearby residents, but was more famous for filling the bellies of the Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. It was later used as a station for the Pony Express.

The Kennedy family retained the property for more than 100 years, throughout five generations of Kennedys, running various operations out of the property. In the 1950’s it became La Carafe and remains so to this day, even though the family sold the haunted lounge in 1987 to a Mr. Wenglar. Unfortunately, the new proprietor met an untimely death shortly thereafter, leaving La Carafe to his sister, and current owner, Carolyn Wenglar.

The most recognized ghost of La Carafe is that of Carl, a former bartender at the historic downtown Houston bar. The apparition of Carl is most often sighted peeking out of the second story window, though some patrons have reported his presence elsewhere, by visual manifestation, unexplained noises and/or a general strong feeling of being watched by unseen eyes.

Footsteps are sometimes heard coming from the upstairs area, also associated with La Carafe’s ghost of former employee Carl. Cold spots have been reported and objects seem to move of their own accord, or at least with the help of the spirit world.

The La Carafe Bar shows its age to this day. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the building maintains much of its original design as prescribed by Nathaniel Kellum in 1847. After more than a century and a half situated on a slanted street, the inside of La Carafe still stands fairly level, which is a structural phenomenon in and of itself.

Visitors feel that they are stepping back in time when they enter Houston’s La Carafe, from the rustic interior right down to the massive and undoubtedly monstrously heavy antique cash register that is still in use today, making it a small event in itself to pay for your services. Thus, as you might surmise, cash is the only form of payment accepted, although there is an ATM conveniently located near the restrooms.

Should you find yourself in the core of historic Houston, Texas, be sure to stop in at the La Carafe Bar for reasonably priced beverages and a hospitable, lackluster crowd that is anything but stuck-up. You just may find yourself having a personal experience of paranormal activity, but if not, the atmosphere alone is more than enough to be worth the trip.

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