1916 Post Alley
Kells Irish Restaurant, a family-friendly bar and restaurant set in the historic Butterworth Building of downtown Seattle, was once home to the country's first purpose-built mortuary, and has had a long and interesting history since.
With rumors of paranormal activity going back nearly a century, it is no wonder that this popular downtown eatery has long been reputed to be one of the most haunted pubs in Washington.
But in a city that has a sordid past as deep and diverse as Seattle, what horrors could possibly make one Irish pub stand out above the rest?
It is often said that ghosts are drawn to positive energy, which the Butterworth Building’s current occupants produce an ample amount of with their cozy Irish pub. But the original Butterworth Building, and the services it provided, was not always so lighthearted.
It is this macabre era in the building’s history that has led to its reputation of being one of the most haunted pubs west of the Mississippi, and, subsequently, there have been countless sightings that suggest that the building’s reputation is not all that has remained over the years.
The controversial history of Butterworth and Sons mortuary has long led to the belief that there is an immense volume of negative energy attached to the building's past, much of which can still be seen and felt to this very day.
From rumors of coffins being buried empty because the bodies were sold for profit, to the questionable practices of a doctor by the name of Linda Hazard, who was known to treat her patients with starvation, there has been no shortage of dark history within the building.
There have even been numerous reports of unexplainable noises within its walls, and many people have claimed to experience feelings of uneasiness when left alone in the building, especially late at night.
Throughout the years, many spiritualists have been brought to the Butterworth Building in an attempt to initiate meaningful communication with the alleged spirits who remain there, including both a catholoic priest and a voodoo priestess.
Additionally, the building has made an appearance in many documentaries and written works pertaining to the paranormal, making it not only one of the most haunted attractions in the city, but one of the most documented, as well.
Perhaps one of the most frequent sightings reported at the pub is of a young girl, who is commonly described as being dressed in a scarlet velvet dress with red ringlets cascading down over her shoulders. She is often referred to as a prankster, and is said to be drawn to other children.
Many people claim to have seen the young girl, and some have even left the Irish pub terrified because of it, but despite the apparition’s frightful and sudden appearances, the common consensus among employees is that she is a playful and friendly spirit.
Another frequent ghost one might encounter is known by the name of Charlie, an older gentleman who is most often seen wearing a hat. Charlie is said to appear at random throughout the building, only to disappear shortly after.
Like the young woman in red, Charlie is also known to be a very friendly and sociable spirit. However, there have also been reported encounters with other spirits, some of which have been described as less welcoming.
One incident of note involves the mother of the current owner of Kells Irish Restaurant. One night, it is said that fell down a flight of stairs, just barely avoiding any serious injuries. When asked about it, she claims that she had actually been pushed, even despite there being no one around to do so.
If the perpetrator was indeed another ghost haunting the historic pub, it would not be the first time that physical contact between people and spirits have been reported inside the building.
The Butterworth Building, of which the base level is currently occupied by Kells Irish Restaurant, was originally constructed to serve as a mortuary. The building became known in 1903 as the Butterworth and Sons mortuary, later moving to a new location in 1923.
A special feature about the Butterworth Building is that it was one of the very first facilities to operate as a mortuary in the United States, designed specifically for that purpose instead of being retrofitted later after construction.
But Butterworth Building’s morbid business is not the only interesting feature it boasts. In fact, the Late Victorian building, which was designed by John Graham, Sr., has a unique structural layout that makes it appear to have three stories from certain angles, when it actually has five.
The different stories all had their own unique functions within the mortuary, creating an efficient system that made Butterworth and Sons stand out against the competition. For example, one was used only to store the mortuary’s utensils, so others could deal solely with the deceased.
The restaurant is currently open to the public for anyone who wants to grab a bite to eat or drink at an authentic Irish pub. If you are lucky, you might even get to meet one of the regular ghosts for yourself!
Kells can be found at 1916 Post Alley in beautiful downtown Seattle, WA.