A helpful cordial presence apparently is a member of the governing Committee.
Committee members and staff have to watch their behavioral P’s and Q’s;
She also supervises elsewhere in Old Alabama Town.
Lucas Tavern is a building with a main tavern room, a kitchen, an eating area and bedrooms, that was fully restored in 1979, when the group of historical buildings it is a part of were all revitalized and returned to their original condition.
It became the Visitor’s Reception Center and the home of the offices of the Historic District, an organization that runs this living museum of historical buildings, popular with tourists. It is open to the public for a small fee, Monday through Saturday, from 9:30 AM to 4:00 PM. On Sunday, it is open form 1:30 PM to 3:30 PM.
The back door of the Tavern opens up onto a square of historical buildings. All of them have been equipped with furniture and details of their past.
The third building from the Tavern is a one-room school house, dating back to 1890, complete with a potbellied stove, an old pine school teacher desk, a kerosene lamp, pupils’ desks, an abacus and the children’s writing slates, plus various books used in the instruction of the class.
Guides are dressed in period costumes, ready to explain and help the visitor experience life of that period. They also do their best to welcome visitors in the same spirit as a former owner of Lucas Tavern, Eliza Lucas.
During the 1820–1840 era, Lucas Tavern was a favorite upscale place for travelers arriving in Montgomery to spend the night in clean beds, enjoy a good meal and the warm southern hospitality of its owner and hostess, Eliza Lucas.
Travelers like General Lafayette, who stayed there in 1825, enjoyed a dinner feast of a variety of Tavern fare that offered such items as chicken, ham, five vegetables, pudding and sauce, sweet pies, preserved fruits and a wonderful dessert of strawberries and plums, along with wine and brandy.
Eliza loved what she did and raised her family here. She had had little education, but was a motivated, hard worker, who put her all into her Tavern. Her warm hospitality, pleasant disposition and wonderful service made her Tavern business a success.
In the 1840s, the Lucas Tavern became a private home and stayed that way for over 100 years. The building was abandoned in the 1960s, but fortunately the Landmarks Foundation stepped in to rescue it in 1978 and moved the famous Tavern into Old Alabama Town. Restoration of Lucas Tavern was completed in 1980, much to the joy of a former spectral owner, who soon made her presence known to all.
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS
When structures are restored to their former historic glory, spirits that were attached often move right in and keep the living company.
Tombstone, AZ (When the historical buildings located in old downtown were restored and sometimes reconstructed, spirits who were attached to them moved back inside and became active, trying to work out their restlessness).
Hartford Twain House Museum, CT (When the forever home of the Mark Twain family was restored, the spirits of Mark, his family and a few servants took up occupancy once more, willing to share it with the living).
Wharton Estate: The Mount, MA (All the spirits that loved this place gladly took up residence once more after it became an authentic house museum showing how Edith Wharton and her husband Teddy lived, and all of Edith’s accomplishments).
Lucas Tavern, AL (The spirit of Eliza Lucas became active in 1980, after the renovations of the Tavern were complete, and the living had moved into the offices, located in the old bedrooms. Not only was her beloved Tavern restored, but she once again had people coming, visiting and occupying it. She also was pleased that the buildings she spent her life around were also restored, as she began visiting them as well).
Spirits of owners of a business expect the same standards will be followed that they had set when they were alive.
Bullock Hotel, SD (Spectral owner Seth Bullock expects the living employees to be professional and efficient in their duties, or they will be disciplined by him).
Curtis House, CT (A male spirit keeps a close eye on the cashiers, to be sure they are competent, from his portrait that hangs on the wall).
Lucas Tavern, AL (The spirit of Eliza expects docents and board members alike to always follow southern etiquette. Angry or rude behavior will be dealt with).
Eliza’s Kindness & Hospitality
The most common sighting of Eliza Lucas, is that of a 5 foot 3 inch woman, dressed in a Victorian dress, waving cordially and smiling at people passing by, while she stands at the doorway of the Tavern, a favorite place of hers.
On one Saturday morning in 1985, a man came inside the Tavern earnestly wanting to meet Eliza, whom he had first encountered just inside the front door.
Eliza Lucas has also not only appeared to various staff and guides, she also considers herself a member of the governing Old Hull Historic committee. She is well thought of by the staff who appreciate her warm, friendly, helpful, cordial presence, a spirit who appreciates them as well.
Eliza also takes objects and puts them in different areas. She likes to rearrange, straighten up or put in disarray various objects/things/displays.
Civility, or Else!
At one late afternoon meeting, in front of the fireplace in the main Tavern room, a controversial matter was being discussed. One committee member became quite agitated and angry while expounding his/her point of view.
Suddenly, a great puff of smoke and ashes blasted from the fireplace, covering this angry person with a coat of gritty chimney soot, much to the amazement of the people there.
(It was assumed that Eliza Lucas didn’t approve of this person’s hostile tone and opinion, which didn’t meet her standards of southern hospitality, namely of being pleasant and finding ways to settle disagreements amiably).
The staff has to watch what they say as well. During a lunchtime break, two staff members were once discussing the Historical District and how it operates, perhaps being a little too critical, in Eliza’s opinion.
Suddenly, the door to their room began to slide off its hinges and it hit the floor with a thud. (Eliza seems to supervise the staff as well, letting them know that she hears what they discuss, and will let them know if their behavior doesn’t meet her standards).
Main Fireplace (pictured far left)
The Photographer’s Spectral Model
Eliza Lucas has also visited the other historical buildings, materializing in front of both staff and visitors.
She especially likes the school room and has even filled in as a photographer’s model, like a regular guide would do.
In the late afternoon, on one August day in 1986, an amateur photographer talked the staff into letting him take pictures after the museum had officially closed. He went to the school room first, because it would soon be too dark to take natural light pictures.
As he walked toward the school, he wished that he had one of the guides to act as a model, pretending to be the teacher.
He entered the room and quietly closed the door. When he looked up, much to his surprise, he saw what he thought was a guide, dressed in her 19th century Victorian costume. She was standing by the window, studying a McGuffy Reader used by the children, setting up the perfect picture.
Reality of Eliza
After taking some pictures from various positions of this guide, his tripod hit the leg of a nearby desk with a loud crack, startling the woman, causing her to hurriedly start to leave. He pleaded with her to sit at the teacher’s desk, so he could get some more photos. She didn’t answer him, but went to the picture of George Washington, hanging on the wall, and stood under it. She then looked directly at the photographer, smiled at him and waved deliberately and slowly at him.
He noticed something strange in her eyes. She didn’t react to him as a person, but looked directly at his face, making eye contact. Despite it being a warm August day, the photographer was enveloped with chills which permeated his being. Much to his astonishment, the woman floated through the wall under the Washington picture and disappeared!
The photographer came back the next day and talked to the guide on duty in the Visitor’s Center in the Tavern, where he learned of Eliza Lucas. As he was about to leave, he found the McGuffy Reader from the school room laying right at his feet, which wasn’t there the moment before.
When he developed the film taken of Eliza Lucas inside the school, the pictures were blank, except for the bright golden light, which was seen in the place where Eliza was standing in each picture, which varied, according to how the photographer had framed his shot.
Visitors, docents and board members have had many personal experiences with this strong, cordial spirit, who sets the tone and behavior standards of the living inside her tavern. I couldn’t find any hard evidence from paranormal investigations, but the school room pictures of the photographer show a bright golden light where he saw her standing in her Victorian attire.
Eliza happily haunts her beloved Tavern and the other historical buildings, and is very pleased with the fine renovation work. She is also pleased with the friendly people on staff that welcome the living to her own establishment, a place that she nurtured and ran with dedication while she was alive.
310 North Hull Street
Montgomery, Alabama 36104
Lucas Tavern is part of a grouping of historical buildings, called Old Alabama Town that can all be found in Old North Hull Square, in the Old North Hull Historic District.
Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr