When Downtown Bastrop Goes Bump in the Night
Gather ‘round on this dark and stormy day, for tales of ghostly encounters in Downtown Bastrop. Long before these quaint little buildings housed elegant eateries, hip boutiques and renowned galleries, they served as saloons, pioneer mercantiles, hotels and boarding houses, meatpackers and undertakers. Bastrop’s been in business since 1832, and many colorful characters have left an indelible mark on this small Texas town.
Piney Creek Chophouse and the Old Town Restaurant and Bar, at Chestnut and Main, occupy the site of the former TA Hasler Dry Goods Store, a staple mercantile to early Bastrop. As the Hasler business grew, a livery stable was added, home furnishings were offered and a mortuary and crematory was operated, right around where you’ll find the bar and private events room at Piney Creek Chophouse. Employees report seeing and hearing strange things, and unexplainable “orbs” tend to show up on security footage. A visit to the Bastrop County Historical Society’s Museum and Visitors Center houses an exhibition of the old undertaker’s embalming table and instruments.
A Main Street gallery owner won’t mention the specific downtown building where she had a ghostly encounter, but it was one in which items were known to “fly” off the shelves, though not because they were selling quickly.
“I was there alone one day painting when all of my drawing materials on a shelf just slid off the flat shelf – for no reason and without anyone being near them. I decided it was time to stop and go home. Other folks have reported hearing voices and footsteps in the hallway when no one else was there.”
If you tour the historic old jailhouse at the Bastrop Courthouse Complex, you’ll see a curious metal ring in the ceiling above the second floor landing, and learn that’s where they used to hang the prisoners. This local ghost tour favorite is popular because of the squeaks and clangs people report hearing from the old iron cell doors which are closed tightly. Orbs are also reported.
Maxine’s on Main, one of Bastrop’s favorite downtown café’s reports a well-known, mischievous specter named Jack Black. A former waitress reports prepping meals and turning back and finding all of her bowls of ingredients turned out onto the counter – yet there was no one around who could have done it. Upset that her fellow staff was playing a prank on her – they simply said “You just met Jack.” Maxine’s is housed in the circa-1870 Wertzner Building, and a man named Jack reportedly fell to this death from the building at the turn of the last century.
Anita’s Café, on North Main has experienced otherworldly encounters from time to time, with books being opened to passages and poems about war and destruction, to the sound of shutters clattering against the windows – on the sides of the building where no shutters or windows exist. A very old building – and reportedly the site of a bitter love triangle that ended badly.
A circa-1880s former boarding house and “Gentleman’s Lounge” on Chestnut Street boasts a dark, dilapidated back staircase scrawled with circa-late 1930s-40s graffiti from soldiers passing through Camp Swift on their way to war. Still nights fill the space with the smell of burning wood, a memory of the fires that raged through the adjoining building in the 1930s, and whose soot still stains the shared brick walls. Footfalls reportedly can be heard on the stairs, although they are unused.