Cockeys Tavern

Cockeys Tavern, Westminster Maryland

Cockeys Tavern

The city of Westminster has many historical buildings and spooky stories. The library on Main Street even hosts ghost walks every October. One of the most popular stories is the old Cockey’s Tavern.

The old tavern at 216 East Main St is dated back to 1832 as a hotel and tavern. It was owned by Joshua Cockey who gained the property from his brother, John, when he passed away. The inn was called Cockey’s Hotel around this time period. Before it was owned by the Cockey family, its history is a little blurred. Some claim the home was built by Dr. William Willis in 1790 but he never owned the property. Names that have been found on old deeds include the McCannon, Colegate, and Reese families. Joshua Cockey sold the property in 1841 to John Fisher. The property then went to John Brooke Boyle in 1872. Boyle’s sons were Confederate soldiers and even used his other property as headquarters. The property stayed in Boyle’s family until the 1920s when it was bought by Frank and Mary Hoffman. They renamed the property Hoffman’s Inn and it was a boarding house and restaurant. In 1969 Hoffman’s Inn became Cockey’s Tavern and was a popular bar. In 2000 the tavern was shut down due to a fire. The Historical Society bought and restored the building in 2009 and it is now the visitor center.

The hauntings in the building occurred during its days as a bar. The spirit in the building is believed to be a Confederate soldier, possibly one of the John Boyle’s sons. He is often heard walking around on the steps and would shake glass objects behind the bar. Recently blown out candles have also been found relit. One object that has many stories associated with the spirit is a painting of General Grant. The painting would hang over the fireplace and would often move or fly off the wall. One woman was hit in the head by the painting when she was standing in front of it. Most people would have written this off as the painting not being hung correctly, however this person just stated that she did not believe in ghosts. A waitress had a similar incident when she complained about being tired and that it was nosy at the bar. The painting flew across the room and landed right at her feet. The painting once was found face down on a table that is where a local lawyer would regularly eat. The staff found out later that night that he passed away. After the fire the painting actually resurfaced but now has want seems to look like blood marks on the general’s sleeves, thumbs and head. The historical society often allows paranormal investigations at the tavern and one group in 2009 picked up on a spirit named Albert, who was believed to live in the bar when it was Hoffman’s Inn.

The historical society still allows private paid investigations there today. The painting also is still hanging in the building.


Gallagher, T. (1988). Ghosts & Haunted Houses of Maryland.Tidewater Publishers, MD.

Goldsmith Day, D. (1997). A Guide to Historic B&B in The Free State: Historic Inns & Famous Houses of Maryland.Eastwind Publishing, MD.

Historical Society of Carroll County (n.d.) Cockey’s Tavern. Retrieved February 21, 2016 from

Okonowicz, E. (2010). The Big Book of Maryland Ghost Stories. Stackpole Books. Mechanicsburg, PA.

Ricksecker, M. (2010) Ghosts of Maryland. Schiffer Publishing. Atglen, PA.