Thursday, April 24, 2014

Spirits and spirits—Newsworthy Haunts

Triangle Brewing Company
918 Pearl Street
Durham, North Carolina

He died anonymously and his body was dumped in a trash bag, though with spirited libations and good cheer, he is now celebrated as the “patron saint” of a brewery.

The South has always had a tradition of spirit-making: from the bourbons of Kentucky and whiskies of Tennessee to the modern micro-breweries that dot the landscape to even the backwoods moonshine that was created when legal liquor production was outlawed. Of course, this activity has also spawned spirits, not only in the breweries themselves, but in historic structures now occupied by spirit makers.

When renovations were conducted in the old warehouse that now houses Durham’s Triangle Brewing Company, human remains were found in a trash bag partially buried in the floor of the basement. Time had taken a toll, leaving only bones and teeth which could not be identified by the Durham Police Department. Not even a date could be established for the remains.

Presumably, the remains were buried in a local cemetery, though they may be associated with the spirit that still rambles about the building. According to the spirit’s page on the brewing company’s website, he’s a good sort of spirit who occasionally whispers, moves things and knocks darts off the dart board. The owners of the brewery have decided to keep him on as the business’ patron saint and have dubbed him “Rufus.”

When he gets a bit rowdy, they pour a beer down the drain to sooth his antics.

Rufus. Triangle Brewing Company. Accessed 23 April 2014.
Shaffer, Josh. “Durham brewery celebrates 7 years of Rufus the sudsy specter.”
     The News-Observer. 16 March 2014.

Talon Winery Tasting Room
7086 Tates Creek Road
Lexington, Kentucky

Unlike the anonymous spirit spreading cheer around the Triangle Brewing Company, Talon Winery’s resident spirit has possibly been identified: none other than famed Lexington transvestite, Sweet Evening Breeze.

James Herndon—known best as “Sweet Evening Breeze” or “Miss Sweets”—is considered “the city’s most colorful character.” The transgender blog, TransGriot, states that Herndon “often wore makeup, occasionally performed or appeared on Main St. on Saturdays in drag, and was apparently quite effeminate. Long before there was RuPaul, Lexington’s Sweet Evening Breeze was titillating and gaining respect from the locals.” The biographical sketch ends by stating that Herndon “cut a path as an openly gay man, drag queen, and possibly a transgendered person.”

In an article from LEX18, Lexington’s NBC affiliate, Herndon is described—somewhat incorrectly—as “a man who liked to wear wedding dresses back in the 1950s.” The article quotes the owner of the winery, “if they go to the stairway that’s where they see the white wedding dress with the dark hair.”

According to what little history that can be found on the winery, the house was built in the 1790s, quite possibly by Isaac Shelby, the state’s first governor. Of course, some of the previous owners have remained in the house and staff reports that children have been seen peering from the windows of the house.

“Agritourism and wine: A natural pairing.” Agritourism Monthly.
     February 2014.
Jones, Jeff. “Sweet Evening Breeze.” TransGriot. 8 February 2007.
“Mystery Monday: Haunted Wine Tasting Room.” LEX18. 31 March

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