The grand tour


September 19, 2012

POINT PLEASANT — Aside from the Mothman statue in Gunn Park, one of the hottest destinations in downtown during the Mothman Festival was the Lowe Hotel.

Not only were all the rooms at the hotel booked during the festival weekend but hundreds of people filed through it for tours. The tours have become so popular, the Lowe Hotel schedules them for 2 p.m. every Sunday if enough people show interest.

Ruth Finley, whose family has owned the hotel since 1990, said she had so many people visit the hotel during the festival over the years, the tours helped organize the chaos and in turn, gave visitors from across the country a history lesson on Point Pleasant.

During this weekend’s tours, visitors walked up the historic hotel’s marble staircase to the dining hall with its Tiffany stained-glass windows and ornate tile floor which was put down by hand in a time long before Home Depot existed. In fact, the Lowe Hotel began its life as the Spencer Hotel in 1901. Then, in 1929, the Lowe family purchased the building.

Finley said the tours explain the impact the hotel had on the area at the early turn of the century and how it continues to be a part of the town’s present - wedding receptions, galas and other events are also still held at the hotel in the dining hall as well as on the fourth floor’s grand ballroom.

Aside from being known as one of the only, if not the only, historic hotel of its kind in West Virginia that has never closed, the Lowe Hotel has also become a well-known destination for ghost hunters.

Finley recalled when her family first opened the hotel she had a guest tell her the hotel was haunted - this was not something any hotel owner at that time wanted to hear. However, times change and the hotel’s paranormal activity is now attracting business rather then scaring it off.

The ghost stories are one of the most popular aspects of the tours of the Lowe Hotel. There are the stories of the little girl spotted riding a tricycle in the hallway, water shutting on and off in certain rooms and aberrations appearing to guests when they least expect it. Finley said oddly enough, the rooms which have had the most reported paranormal activity over the years are some of the most popular with people booking them in advance. One of the most popular haunted rooms is a suite on the third floor where the image of a woman has shown up in the bathroom mirror only to disappear.

Then there’s the story of an antique wheelchair that seemed to move itself around on the fourth floor only to go missing for three years and then show up again one day without explanation. There are countless orbs captured in photographs and the spirit of a riverboat captain who is said to live in the hotel as well.

Finley said over the Mothman Festival weekend, she heard even more guests with more new ghost stories. She also said guests book their rooms for the Mothman Festival a year in advance and the hotel has a waiting list for cancellations that weekend. She said the grassroots festival, which has a lot of community members working behind the scenes to pull it off, has really been good for downtown.

“Downtowns are important,” Finley said. “Once you lose downtown, you lose a part you can never regain. There’s a sense of belonging when you have a downtown and you wouldn’t miss it until it’s lost.”

Now well into its second century of life in downtown Point Pleasant, the Lowe Hotel has definitely been found again by a whole new generation.

For more information on the hotel’s Sunday tours, call 304-675-2260.