Known as America’s Most Haunted Pub, Kells Irish Restaurant and Pub’s sinister past continues haunting the establishment despite being the ‘go to’ venue for large events, parties, catering, and tastings in Seattle. And that’s because, at one time, this place of gaiety and celebration was once the establishment that buried all of Seattle’s dead.
Kells Irish Restaurant and Pub: A Brief History
In the early 1900s, Seattle became overwhelmed with the number of dead and dying from mining accidents, tuberculosis, black diphtheria, cholera, and murder.
One cabinet maker, E.R. Butterworth, received so many orders for building caskets that in 1903, he decided to change careers and get into the more lucrative funeral business. He soon created a necrological empire.
The Seattle Daily Times reported that the Butterworths “have the most complete establishment in the United States,” and his influence on the funeral business has endured for ages: Butterworth is attributed to being the first to introduce the words’ mortuary’ and ‘mortician’ into the undertaking nomenclature. It was the first full-service mortuary, and it revolutionized the funeral business.
Unfortunately, Butterworth earned most of his wealth by profiting off the dead and their families in unethical ways. The increase in deaths from disease forced Seattle to take unprecedented steps to remove the deceased from their homes and help prevent the spread of disease. As an incentive, Seattle paid each individual $50 for everybody they brought to the morgue.
Having the only mortuary in town, E. R. Butterworth was the sole recipient of Seattle’s dead. Not only this, but he also collected half the bounty paid to the body carriers because there was no other place for the dead to go. Without Butterworth’s establishment to process the bodies, that $50 bounty was worthless. And since $25 was half a year’s salary for most, it also became an incentive for murder.
Butterworth furthered his career by becoming involved with the female Dr. Linda Hazzard, nicknamed ‘the starvation doctor,’ who developed an experimental treatment for disease whereby you starve people to cure them. Linda wasn’t a real MD, but she was able to legally practice in Washington state without a license due to a clause that gave exceptions to practitioners of alternative medicine.
As one can imagine, because of her treatments, many died of starvation before they were ever cured. In 1911, two sisters underwent treatment with Dr. Hazzard, and one of them died. Unfortunately, Butterworth allegedly displayed the wrong corpse to the family. And to this day, no one knows where the dead sister’s body went.
It was later discovered that the surviving but severely emaciated sister had signed over all her wealth to Butterworth, implicating him in the murder charges brought against Hazzard for the sister’s death. But without any concrete evidence against him, Dr. Hazzard and her husband Sam were the only persons charged and convicted. She was sentenced to 2-20 years and shipped off to Walla Walla to serve her term. She was released after serving only two years.
A story published in the March 23, 2012 issue of Seattle Met describes Butterworth’s mortuary:
Designed in “the Beaux-Arts style. Sandstone Greco-Roman archways formed the main entrance. Three stories up, on the metal cornice that capped the building, four sculpted lion heads looked out onto First Avenue. At the back of the building, a service alley led to the livery and stables on the ground floor, where hearses dropped off and picked up bodies. In the floors above, mahogany, ornamental plaster, stained glass, and bronze and brass hardware lent the interior the bearing of a Victorian mansion. It included a crematorium, a columbarium, an elevator for transporting bodies, and a casket showroom. A chapel, spacious enough for 200 mourners, contained pews made of Flemish oak, a choir loft, and a balcony. E. R. rigged the chapel with a system of light signals by which the paid choir could be cued to begin or cease singing.’Seattle Met
Because of its beauty, it’s not difficult to see why some spirits would want to remain here, despite the suspicious circumstances surrounding some of their deaths.
Paranormal Activity and Evidence
The current proprietors of this family-owned business purchased the old Butterworth building, founded Kells Irish Restaurant and Pub in 1983, and soon began experiencing ghostly encounters.
During interior construction, family members were camped out on the floor, and distinct footsteps and shuffling of feet could be heard, and the temperature in the room dropped considerably. In addition, a few doors opened and then shut. The next day, the owners had a priest come and bless the place before they continued construction.
- When she was alone, one of the owners saw a tall, thin man walk into the pub carrying two pieces of paper, turn and go up the stairs, then vanish.
- The owner’s mother believes she was pushed down the stairs by unseen hands.
- Broken glasses have been found on the floor when opening the pub in the morning. Upon opening up the pub, a fractured mirror has also been found on the floor.
- An apparition of a little blonde girl dressed in red taffeta is regularly seen there carrying a ragged teddy bear.
- When viewing security footage, staff observe that the motion-reactive pub lights will frequently be triggered even though no one is in the building.
- Zak of Ghost Adventures also captured a picture of a strange, disfigured, childlike apparition on his infrared digital still camera. One spirit exclaimed to Zak via EVP, “I don’t like you!”
Other EVPs from that Ghost Adventures investigation included:
- “Looking for my child.”
- “Get me outta here.”
- “Get us Hazzard.”
- “Stop it!”
- “Get off that thing!”
Every pub has ‘regulars,’ you know, those same folks who come in every night around the same time and sit in the same place? Well, this pub has ‘regulars’ as ghosts, too. Here are two of those regulars:
Charlie seems to like the Guinness mirror at the pub and will frequently pop up in it, then disappear. He wears a derby hat and appears mostly when musical entertainment is in the house.
Little Girl with Red Hair
She likes to play pranks on adults and likes to play with children who come into the pub during the day. She tends to manipulate objects like drinking glasses and silverware.
Shadows and glasses falling off the bar for no apparent reason are also everyday occurrences at Kells Irish Restaurant and Pub. So, if you’re in the mood for some ‘spirits,’ Kells is the place to be for both the liquid kind and the paranormal in Seattle.
Amongst the Most Haunted Locations in Washington
Kells Irish Restaurant and Pub is considered one of the five most haunted locations in Washington State due to its dark history as a mortuary that profited off unethical practices involving the deceased, creating a lingering sense of unease and unrest within its walls.
The pub’s beautiful Beaux-Arts-style architecture and historical significance make it an attractive location for spirits to linger, despite the suspicious circumstances surrounding some of their deaths.
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