A little girl with a red ball is said to haunt the Lord Baltimore Hotel.
It’s sunset and Steven Lampredi is holding court before a small group in the historic Admiral Fell Inn. At the observation deck, the staff historian points out various highlights of the neighborhood including the cemetery of the Fell family, who are the namesake of Fells Point. His talk quickly turns to somewhat bone-chilling stories about figures dressed in colonial garb roaming the cobblestone streets that surround the hotel only to disappear through fences and faces of sailors appearing outside the top floor windows of past guests.
“Every place down here has its own ghost stories,” chuckled Lampredi, whose persona at the hotel during the tours is Steven Foote. “But that’s all we have here is friendly ghosts. We don’t know why.”
Like many of the buildings that line the popular Fells Point neighborhood, The Admiral Fell Inn has an origin story that dates back several centuries. It’s currently reality includes brushes with the supernatural.
Guests of the hotel on Thames Street gather each Wednesday through Saturday and take a ghost tour of the hotel curated by Lampredi, who has led the tours the past 14 years.
It usually culminates with a visit to the Admiral Fell Inn Tavern, which is located in the oldest part of the hotel. It’s also considered the most haunted part of the hotel.
There, bartender Steve G. Mavronis, who also leads the tour on occasion, serves up artisanal cocktails and delectable ghost stories.
This night, Mavronis recounts the time that he had a brush with a ghost who he believes moved ice cube trays from the freezer and placed them in various refrigerators—something he would never do. He then whips out his electronic tablet where he reveals a picture of what he believes to be a woman ghost hoovering outside of the taverns window.
“I’ve gotten to the point I can figure out when it will happen,” he said. “All the sudden the energy level takes a dive.”
Then the hanging bulb lights in the tavern begin the flicker, which Mavronis said is a sign of paranormal activity.
Melissa Rowell, co-owner of Baltimore Ghost Tours, which has led tours in Fells Point and Mount Vernon since 2001, believes that Baltimore—particularly Fells Point—is one of the most haunted areas in the country in large part because of it being a major port.
“It’s the sheer number of people who came there and the sheer number of people who lived and died there,” she said. “It was the red light district. It was filled with brothels and boarding houses.”
Rowell, who makes it a point to visit other cities and check out their ghost tours, believes Baltimore’s age also factors into the paranormal activity.
“Baltimore is haunted,” Rowell said. “Some of the buildings from Fells Point are from the 1700s. They are super old."
Maybe it has something to do with infamous man of mystery and the macabre, Edgar Allan Poe, who is buried here. It could have something to do with its obsession with pirates and its nautical connections. The fact that it is the setting for the fictional character Hannibal Lecture time in a psychiatric facility hasn’t helped its causes. And the city’s violent crime rate keeps folks on edge.
Whatever the reason, Charm City is ripe with tales of hauntings from the friendly to the downright unsettling. And many of these places are open to the public.
The hotel is said to be haunted by the spirits of the Mercy nuns who took care of sick sailors when the main part of the building was built in the early 1900s.
Down in the basement part of the hotel, which houses the stone room where breakfast is served and the tavern, there is a considerable amount more reported activity. That area dates back to the early 1700s.
“It was almost like a boarding house. A lot of them [sailors] would not be very healthy. The women would care for them and try and get them better,” explained Ted Jabara, managing director of Harbor Magic Hotels, which own a number of properties in Baltimore including the Admiral Fell Inn. This is their only haunted property. “Given how advanced medicine was back then, some of the sailors checked in and never checked out.”
Throughout the years guests and staff have reported hearing voices in empty parts of the hotel, which is now comprised of eight buildings. The hotel is regularly noted among the top 10 haunted hotels in the country.
“Our old GM [general manager] would hear a bunch of people having a party upstairs. He went upstairs and no one was there. [Guests] notice that they put their things down and when they wake up they will be rearranged,” he said. “They’re not scary spooky ghosts."
Apparently ghosts have a taste for high-end steak and Malbec.
The opulently decorated Argentine restaurant in Harbor East gets a fair share of attention from visitors because of its owners chef Cindy Wolf and restaurateur Tony Foreman. But its private dining room on the mezzanine level has attracted another set of supernatural guests, according to its staff.
The building, which was a boiler factory, dates back to the 1860s. The staff thinks that has something to do with the fact that the private dining room is always considerably colder than the rest of the restaurant.
“For whatever reason it’s always colder in that space. It doesn’t matter the season,” said general manager Charisse Nichols.
Several servers have claimed to have seen a ghost, saying that it was very fast, according to Nichols.
While Nichols said she’s only witnessed harmless, “cute” things like the flickering of lights during rehearsal dinners or weddings, that doesn’t mean that the ghostly presence in the restaurant hasn’t gotten to her.
“I always tell Tony [Foreman] that I hate being in here by myself,” Nichols said. “There are some Sundays that I come in here and do paper work. It’s just too still. If I hear a noise I get my paper work done quickly.”
The popular brunch spot known for its Captain Crunch French toast and other over-the-top brunch items, also houses a number of spirits, according to its owner Sarah Megan Simington.
The brick row home, which was built in the late 1700s, housed a variety of businesses including a Chinese laundry, said Simington.
Employees and customers have heard voices, seen shadows, moving chairs and plates, and experienced phantom touches. And forget about going into the “creepy, creepy basement” where the walk-in freezer is located, according to Simington.
Simington, who lived above the restaurant in an apartment from 1997 to 2009, recalled the time that her mother was sitting on a stool by the basement and a voice from downstairs said: “Hello Sherri.”
There was the time around Halloween when she was doing paperwork and her animatronic cat came on. It had no batteries.
The cozy bar known for its live music and 32 drafts on tap is actually the site of Melissa Rowell’s most memorable brushes with a ghost.
It happened in 2003.
The co-owner of Baltimore Ghost Tours stopped by the bar in the morning one day to buy her father a t-shirt. The bar was empty except for one bartender who completed the sale.
Rowell had a quick conversation with the man. She picked out a shirt for her father and paid for it.
A few months later she returned to the bar and chatted with another employee who informed her that there was not an employee fitting the description of the man she previously met working the morning shift at the bar. When Rowell mentioned the man’s name, the employee had a startled look on her face.
“Then the other employee showed me a picture of the man and told me he died eight years before,” Rowell said. “He was a bartender who worked for 30 years in Fells Point.”
Rowell was further freaked out when she remembered that she touched the man’s hand when he was handing her back her change.
The restored hotel’s origin story makes for great paranormal fodder. More than 20 cases of people jumping to their deaths from the building during the Great Depression; a ghostly couple that occupies the main ballroom where they have been known to dance; a mysterious speakeasy dating back to prohibition; and the ghost of a girl who roams the hotel halls with a red bouncing ball.
Lee Johnson-Lowe, the hotel’s director of sales and marketing, has heard it all. And although he said he does not believe in the paranormal, he’s entertained by the spectacle of it all.
The hotel is inundated with ghost hunters, mediums and paranormal enthusiasts throughout the year-especially during National Ghost Hunt Day on Sept. 29.
“They all feel the energy the minute they walk in the door,” he said. “They make the comment that ‘The hotel is very crowded.’”
Last year, a ghost hunter investigated the hotel’s penthouse.
“It got to the point where he couldn’t investigate anymore,” Johnson-Lowe said. “He was getting the creeps. It was a little overwhelming for him.”
Danny Goodman, who has worked in the bar industry in the Fells Point area for the past decade, vividly remembers his first encounter with a ghost while working at the bar known for its crabs and live music.
It was Thanksgiving and he was charged with opening up the bar in anticipation of a rush of customers.
“I walked in and turned on the lights and saw a pair of opaque women’s legs walking up the stairs and disappearing into the wall,” he said while finishing up a drink at Wharf Rat, a Fells Point watering hole also known for its share of paranormal activity. “It scared the [expletive] out of me.”
On another occasion, he was sitting in the back bar when a filled trash can began to move.
Although the exact year the building was erected is estimated at 1887–the building records were lost in the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904–the building has operated as a bar from the beginning.
First as Dix Hotel, an Irish bar on the first floor where the top two floors operated as boarding rooms. Then it became Salty Dog, then Friends before becoming Sticky Rice in 2010.
Co-owner Ginny Lawhorn says that there has been a lot of “activity” behind the bars such as bottles moving, music randomly being turned on and off and variations in temperature. The sounds of doors opening and closing also have alerted staff to the presence of others in the building.
But the most disturbing activities have taken place in the upper levels of the building which house an employee break room and a workspace.
One incident involved Lawhorn’s younger sister, Evelyn, who was using a Snapchat filter while sitting in the break room in 2016 and was disturbed to see a second filter captured on a ghostly woman’s face on her neck.
“When I zoomed in and saw two eyes and a nose it was a unnerving feeling,” Evelyn said.
She’s also been in the building alone and heard a voice singing in another room. And one time had something sit next to her.
“I hauled ass out of there,” she said.
Another incident occurred in September when Ginny Lawhorn and a friend were in the workspace and a knife slide across a table grazing her friend’s buttocks.
“I felt startled and cold—like the pit of my stomach startled and then shivers of temperature change,” she said.