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Kells Irish Pub's Popular With Patrons, Both Living and Dead
October 5, 2020

Kells Irish Pub's Popular With Patrons, Both Living and Dead

by The CE Shop Team

Ghostly Patrons of Buttersworth Building Are Known Regulars at Kells Irish Pub

Kells Irish Pub near Pike Place Market is home to Seattle’s largest collection of single malt scotch, and it’s a local favorite for a pint with friends. The pub features old world charm with dark-rich wood throughout the bar whose scuffs and scrapes hold plenty of stories dating back to the 1900s. Beyond its old-fashioned appeal lurks a dark history, causing the bar to be declared as the most haunted pub in America.

Kells Irish Restaurant & Pub is oozing with paranormal activity which is attributed to the building's history with corpses and funeral preparation. With the number of bodies moving in and out, it’s no surprise that patrons to the bar and restaurant staff alike have reported inexplicable events such as glass breaking and handprints on freshly cleaned windows throughout the years. The pub is crawling with so many spirits that it was even featured on an episode of "Ghost Adventures." To understand why spirits and patrons are clamoring to visit Kells Irish Pub, let’s take a look at the history of the mortuary that used to reside at this site.

The Story Behind Butterworth

For most who visit this unassuming bar, they simply enjoy the intimate atmosphere and charm, failing to realize the history of the site. Before Kells Irish Pub became a family-run operation serving up Irish favorites, it was Butterworth & Sons mortuary, Seattle’s first purpose-built mortuary. In other words, it was the first place in the city that would offer services related to death, including the sale of coffins. The building also featured the first elevator on the West Coast, and it was used to transport the deceased between floors.

Given the high death from plagues, mining accidents, and violence during the early 1900s, services related to death and the disposal of bodies became a booming business. In fact, the mortuary featured well-used fireproof vaults on the first floor in which bodies were stored, often for long periods of time, until family members decided what to do with their deceased kin.

The strip of businesses that make up Butterworth Building, better known as Butterworth Block, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). This block also falls within the NRHP's Pike Place Public Market Historic District and the city's Place Market Historical District, cementing its place not only in the city but in time as well.

Image provided by Curbed Seattle

Ghostly Patrons at Kells Irish Pub

There are plenty of accounts of ghosts, creepy noises, or even moving objects sending shivers down the spine of bar staff and guests alike. One such tale comes from Karen McAleese, whose family owns the pub. On All Saints’ Day a few years ago, she was certain that she saw an odd man in a suit fumble out of the kitchen at Kells Irish Restaurant & Pub.

“He was a tall man who looked like he was part black, with a suit jacket on,” McAleese said in an interview with the Seattle Times. “He had very thin hands. He walked to the end of the bar and just kind of faded.”

Another theory as to why the building is so haunted comes from an unlikely source: a local shaman. Once, the shaman was asked to come to the bar and ended up counting 19 fully formed ghosts inside the old mortuary, says Mercedes Yaeger, who leads ghost tours of the Market. Some ghosts that have been seen appear emaciated, and Yaeger has an idea as to why:

A Seattle doctor treated patients by trying to starve illness out of them with tomato broth and three enemas a day. It didn’t work, and those gaunt bodies eventually passed through the mortuary.

Yaeger says mortuary ghosts have been various races. The building also sits on an old Suquamish Indian burial ground (just to add to the mix of angry spirits). Yaeger believes other ghosts are former laborers upset at never receiving credit for their contributions in helping to build Seattle.

“There are some pissed-off ghosts in there,” Yaeger says. “There is no closure for them.”

A permanent reminder of what Seattle used to be, the Butterworth Block of buildings shows residents and tourists how far the city has come from the 19th and 20th centuries. In a lot of ways, this building reflects the early innovation and progressive attitude that the city still holds today. Despite the paranormal activity in this historic district, the median home value near the haunted pub is $670,667. So, if your clients don’t mind their corned beef served with a side of spirits, tell them to visit Kells Irish Pub and bask in the growth, both of the site and the city in which it resides.

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*Hero image provided by Chesmore Buck

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