The Wharf Rat

The Wharf Rat, Fells Point, Baltimore Maryland

The Wharf Rat

At 801 South Anne St, you will find a tavern that takes pride in Fells Point’s pirate and sailor past. The Wharf Rat, named after a term used for men who made their livings at sea, takes great pride in representing what Fells Point once was. The current owners were influenced by their family bar in London called Oliver’s Wharf also, which has a similar history.

The Good Old Days

The Wharf Rat location has been a tavern since the 1790s and was the first bar in Baltimore to be licensed. Like most the other taverns in Fells Point, it was mostly known for sailors, pirates and others from the boats docked right outside the building.

Do Not Disturb

There is not much detailed history of the bar until the early 1900s. In 1907 the bar was called Buck Gardeners. Depending on the source the story of the infamous death that took place here has two versions:

One version is the owner of the bar, John, bought a gramophone and would play the Star Spangled Banner loudly all day. This obviously disturbed people who lived near by and one man got into a fight over the music. The man left the bar, only to return with his brother and shot John dead.

The other version is the murder took place in the 1930s when the bar was owned by Harry Thompson. Thomas Thompson, Harry’s brother, lived in the upstairs apartment and would often be disturbed by loud music that his nephew would play. There is no confirmation if John was the nephew, but like the other version, Thomas shot his nephew over the music.

Still Disturbed, Even in Death

Despite there being two versions of the story, the ending is the same with the deceased still fighting over their music. One spirit has been seen in the kitchen area by the cook. It is said this spirit is believed to be the murdered man who is often seen crying. It has also been reported that a group of lights and orbs have been seen in the section of the bar where he was shot.

He is not the only spirit in the bar. It seems the murderer lingers on as well. The current owner of the tavern says some nights the music will turn down mysteriously on its own. They have had different sound systems in the bar and even had professionals look into the issue while filming an episode of Homicide but no one can find any technical reason the music gets turned down. They also believe he is seen in the second floor window and near the fireplace in the bar.


Macken, L. (2004). Haunted Baltimore: Charm City Spirits.Black Cat Press. Forked River, NJ.

Rowell, M. & Lynwander, A. (2005). Baltimore Harbor Haunts: True Ghost Stories. Schiffer Publising Atglen, PA.

The Wharf Rat (n.d). Retrieved January 12, 2016 from