The Commercial Inspector | Haunted Places Series: King’s Tavern

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Haunted Places Series: King’s Tavern

 October 6, 2021 |  CRE News |  just for fun, hotel, Haunted Places Series

Location: Natchez, Mississippi
Architectural Style: American Colonial
Built: 1769

As we begin a new fall season, it’s time for us to dust off our Haunted Places series! We’re ready to embark on another terrifying trip to the most active locations in the United States and Canada. To kick things off, we’re going south to one of the oldest buildings in Mississippi. Having been around for more than 250 years, this spot has seen its fair share of misfortune.

King’s Tavern and Pre-Revolutionary America
One of the oldest buildings in Mississippi, King’s Tavern was completed in 1769, though it wasn’t a tavern at that time. The building was originally meant to serve as a block house for the nearby British outpost Fort Panmure. Block houses were typically used as an observation point to defend the fort. King's Tavern was constructed out of recycled beams from dismantled ships and sun-dried bricks. The British would hold the block house until the area was claimed by the American colonies after the Revolutionary War.

Post-Revolutionary War
After the British were ousted by the American Army, the river port city of Natchez was open for business. In 1789, Richard King of New York moved with his family to the city and bought the block home. King renovated the block house into a tavern and inn, and used it as a makeshift postal office. King’s Tavern became a bustling meeting spot, turning King and his wife into local celebrities.

Bad Business
While the Kings enjoyed their high social status, the company they kept in their tavern usually led more of a degenerate lifestyle. Being a port town, many expensive goods would flow in and out of Natchez on a frequent basis. This made it a prime target for outlaws to hold up the sailors and other travelers. After a night at the tavern, bandits would make their play on the inebriated tourists, oftentimes resulting in murder. The most famous of these groups was the Harpe brothers, believed to be America’s first serial killers. The Harpes would frequently torture their victims before robbing and killing them.

Life Bypasses Natchez
With the advancements in river travel, i.e. the steamboat, travelers could go further distances in less time, riding in comfort. This meant that stops at Natchez and King’s Tavern began to slowly dwindle. The drop in business put a strain on Richard King, and he ultimately sold the tavern in 1817. In 1823, a family by the name of Postalwaith acquired the building and turned it into their private home. Then in 1973, a local investor re-opened King’s Tavern as a tavern/restaurant, and new ownership took over in 2013.

Disturbed Souls at King’s Tavern
Being a hotspot for the local ne'er-do-well populus, many unsettling discoveries have been made in and around King’s Tavern. During renovations in the 1930s, three mummified bodies were unearthed in the chimney, along with a jeweled dagger. Two of the bodies are thought to be victims of the Harpe brothers, but a third female skeleton is believed to be that of Mr. King’s mistress, Madeline. Mrs. King, after hearing about the affair, is said to have killed Madeline and enclosed her in the tavern walls. The tavern was also the site of the tragic death of a child.

Residual Effects
The tumultuous past of King’s Tavern can still be felt to this day. Madeline is thought to be the main source of the activity. A woman’s footprints will appear on the floor, an apparition appears then quickly vanishes, jars will be knocked off shelves, and doors open and close when her name is mentioned. Even an EVP of her voice has been captured. A child’s cry can also be heard on the upstairs floor of the house when no one is there. Along with these two spirits, a sinister one roams the tavern. Identified as a man with a top hat, it’s unsure if the specter is that of a victim or a former outlaw, specifically Wiley Harpe. Guests report the sensation of being strangled or a general heavy feeling while on the property. Dishes have also been thrown around, and the face of the man will sometimes manifest in the upstairs bedroom mirror. Many shadow figures have been reported, and the fireplace where the bodies were found will emit heat when it’s been dormant.

King’s Tavern Today
King’s Tavern and its reputation have been featured on various ghost hunting shows. It’s been a must-see destination for those vacationing in the area for many years. However after the past year, King’s Tavern closed--the building is currently for sale.

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