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The Lehigh Valley has no shortage of bars and restaurants housed in historic buildings. Many of these fine eateries have operated for generations, and in some cases they have apparently done so with a little help from some “spirits,” both literal and figurative. 👻
Legends of haunted establishments also abound in our area, which is why we’re highlighting some of them this Halloween. We hope that you’ll not only investigate their reported ghostly associations, but also dine with and support them as local businesses.
Feel free to tell us your stories about these and other historic places, and of course, make new memories by visiting them for festive fun and great food all year-round.
For more about each of the current and former restaurants listed below, please check out Ellen’s interview on Saucon Source’s No Rain Date podcast, Episode 76 (release date: Oct. 15, 2021).
THE IRON MULE
The Iron Mule Restaurant and Bar, located at 831 S. Delaware Drive, Easton, was built as the Black Horse Inn in 1783. Many years later it became Stemie’s Place, and the tradition of riverside hospitality continues today under the owners of the ‘Mule.’ Nearly a century ago, however, the hospitality that was served up was appreciated not only by local customers, but also by Prohibition Era mobsters. On July 22, 1928, one such figure was enjoying a meal at the Black Horse Inn when he was brutally murdered by an unknown suspect. At around 9 p.m., Saverio Damiano, aka Johnny “The Wop” Farrara, went to make a call in the pub’s phone booth when a gunman opened fire on the room. Farrara fell down a set of steps and into the basement, where he crawled into the corner and later died. This was believed to be an organized mob hit, and all witnesses fled the scene immediately. Strangely, Farrara’s body wasn’t discovered until two days later, when a delivery man stumbled upon it. Several people were suspected of ordering and carrying out the hit, but a motive was never firmly established and no one was ever convicted of Damiano’s murder. Ever since then, shadowy figures have been reported around the property, and items have been found moved around, especially in the kitchen. The apparition of a large black dog has been spotted multiple times on the basement steps where Farrara died, and dogs are known to act strangely there. The apparition of a little girl who’s believed to have drowned in the nearby canal has also been seen.
THE WIDOW’S TAVERN AND GRILLE
Previously known for many years as Widow Brown’s, this former inn and stagecoach stop at 200 Main Street in Stockertown is haunted by a ghost named “Marvin,” according to the restaurant’s website. I love that they embrace their ghost as a part of their business! The owner of The Widow’s Tavern & Grille isn’t 100 percent sure how old the tavern is, but the fact that it was once a stagecoach stop means it likely dates to the mid-1800s or earlier. As the story goes, Marvin worked at the inn during the early years of its existence. He fell in love with a woman who also worked at the inn, but the owner disapproved of their affair. Marvin was fired, and that apparently led to his demise. We don’t know exactly what happened after that, but some time later Marvin was found hanging in the tavern’s back stairway. Whether he was hanged or hanged himself is also unknown, but what many believe is that Marvin continues to “hang around” to this day.
NEWBURG INN (DEMOLISHED)
Built in 1750 and recently razed, the Newburg Inn at Newburg Road and Nazareth Pike was a landmark dining destination in the Nazareth area for generations, until it closed in 2018. In its early years, the inn building served as a stagecoach stop, an Indian trading post, a homestead, and, during the French and Indian War, protection for settlers from attacks by Native Americans. According to legend, one Native American was hanged in the inn’s attic, while other stories tell of the apparition of a little girl who patrons and employees said frequented the bar area. Some claimed that over 30 spirits haunted the Newburg Inn, which was demolished so the intersection it bordered could be widened.
MAGNOLIA’S VINEYARD (CLOSED)
The former Magnolia’s Vineyard on Village Road in Orefield was named for Magnolia Evans, who was the daughter of a major-general serving in the Union Army during the Civil War. According to legend, one day she found a wounded Confederate soldier in the vineyard behind the house, and secretly began to help nurse him back to health. Perhaps predictably, during this time she fell in love with him. When the soldier left to return to his regiment, he swore to Magnolia that he would return after the war, and she swore that she’d wait for him. When the war ended, she waited by the Jordan Creek, and waited, and waited and waited. He never returned. People say they still see her by the creek waiting.