On Friday and Saturday nights, under the cover of darkness, a group called Nightly Spirits leads Houston’s ghost hunters through downtown to our most haunted venues—beginning, of course, with the notorious, infamous … Spaghetti Warehouse. Well, not anymore. We joined a tour before Harvey, which resulted in the venerable establishment flooding, and subsequent questions about its future. But the tour is still on, albeit with a slightly adjusted route.
While we concluded that the $25 price tag buys a bit of Boooooo 👎 with your BOO! 👻 —to quote the amazingly frank online FAQs: “Are drinks included? Absolutely not”—the mile-long route does have its kitschy charm, arming us with enough seasonal factoids for this lifetime and the next. Thinking of going this month for Halloween? Grab some extra cash for drinks, and read on for our pre-Harvey account, which will provide an idea, anyway, of what to expect:
Spaghetti Warehouse (901 Commerce St.)
Our corseted, black-clad chaperone ushered us up the very haunted staircase to the restaurant’s decommissioned Houston street trolley, where fellow paranormal detectives sat and listened as she told us about the building’s phantom couple. The wedding party celebrating just feet away probably had no idea that a husband died in this building a century ago, his heartbroken wife soon to follow, nor that their ghosts had been unsettling legions of spaghettiphiles ever since. Our guess? They're still inside the building somewhere, even if the place has served its last plate of pasta (it might reopen or relocate).
Magnolia Ballroom (715 Franklin St.) /The Brewery Tap (717 Franklin St.)
The resident ghost, William, died during Prohibition in this warehouse on the corner of Franklin and Milam Streets, which was once the Magnolia Brewery. Now, the space is carved up into a jazz club and, fittingly, a (haunted) tap room, where ol’ Willy is known to prank bartenders by putting in orders for himself. At least you get free drinks when you’re dead, right?
Line & Lariat at Hotel Icon (220 Main St.)
Our guide cheerily informed us that when hoteliers flipped the old Union National Bank building, they did not eliminate the ghostly thuds, creaks and wails heard by guests, a product of unconfirmed Depression-era suicides that had occurred upstairs. And, as if that wasn’t enough, there was the lingering spirit of the Line & Lariat bar, which, as of our late summer tour, was closed for renovations (a grander incarnation was set to open as of press time).
Dean’s (316 Main St.)
Because Dean’s is apparently home to Houston’s oldest electric elevator—commissioned in 1893—the bar also boasts the Houston’s oldest haunted electric elevator. The elevator ghost was a no-show for our visit, but we do feel compelled to warn you: We witnessed a rogue Frat Boy of College Past (the most frightening ghost of all) expelling his boozy ectoplasm as we departed the bar. Spooky!