Editor’s note: Much of this story was originally published in 2015 and has been updated where applicable for this Halloween edition of the Point Pleasant Register.
POINT PLEASANT — The Lowe Hotel has seen its share of life over the years and though many have debated whether or not it’s haunted, it has certainly reincarnated itself into what the times ask of it.
In more recent years, the historic hotel, which was built roughly around the turn of the 20th Century, has been embarking on new projects, including creating artist-inspired boutique rooms. These rooms are decorated by Designer Jim Hobbs around special pieces of vintage furniture and original works of art by Jamie Sloane. Both men struck up a friendship with Ruth Finley, the hotel’s owner. On a fateful day in 2014, Finely let Hobbs look through the attic at the hotel to reveal a treasure trove of furniture and special period pieces which began the venture. Both Hobbs and Sloane now live in a remodeled portion on the fourth floor of the hotel which has also become Sloane’s art studio. Gallery at 409 also rests within the Lowe complex, supporting the arts on Main Street and beyond.
Of course, the Lowe Hotel has always been unique in Point Pleasant and the world in general. Guest accounts of some ghostly encounters are just small stories in a much larger one. Originally known as the Spencer Hotel, it was built for $65,000 with at least $10,000 of new furnishings, at the time, according to a publication Finley has detailing businesses in Mason County printed in 1905. At the time the article was printed, the first floor included the hotel lobby, barber shop, bar room, wholesale liquor room, dry goods store, banking rooms of the Merchants National Bank, a ladies reception area and billiard room. The Spencer family lost the hotel during the stock market crash of 1929 and the ensuing Great Depression. The Lowe family then purchased the hotel and had it until 1990 when Ruth and husband Rush bought this living, functional piece of history.
With that much life passing in and out of a building, there’s bound to be not only history but a little mystery to a place. The following are some of the most famous ghost stories from the hotel’s past:
The mezzanine on the second floor is said to house one of the most famous of the Lowe’s ghosts, a beautiful young woman seen dancing to music only she can hear. She is described as being barefoot, wearing a nightgown and having long, flowing hair. It’s rumored she’s the ghost of Juliette Smith, the middle child of Homer Smith, the original Lowe Hotel manager. As a young woman, Juliette loved music and dancing and fell in love with a local boy her father did not approve of, so the boy married another. Juliette never married. Hobbs more recently redecorated the sitting room on the second floor with a unique find – a couch owned by television star Lorne Greene which echoes Hollywood from the 1960’s.
Also on the second floor, reports of a young child riding a tricycle down the hallway and for some guests, they’ve heard the sound of laughter or the squeak of tricycle wheels. Often guests see orbs developed in their photos taken on this floor in the hallway.
The third floor is an active spot for ghost stories with guests and employees sometimes reporting hearing whistling when no one is around or report a sudden chill or sense they’re not alone. The transoms over doors are often found in the opposite position than when they were left or cleaning supplies are found lying around where no employee cleaned that day. Some have theorized this could be the spirits of many people who spent part of their lives working in the hotel.
Then there are the stories of seeing a river boat captain, possibly speculated to be Cpt. Jim O’Brien who manned the Homer Smith steamboat in 1915. His picture hangs in the river suite that overlooks the Ohio River.
On the other side of the third floor, many report seeing a man with a beard and wearing 1930’s clothing. Often somewhere around rooms 314 and 316, guests feel a person walks nonstop.
Then there is room 309 where guests have said to see a woman kneeling at the edge of the bed. Some have claimed to see a lump in the bed or a small child covered in bed linens. Occassionally the wind can blow in that room because the curtains change directions.
Again, all of these stories would be nothing without the history to help deepen the mystery. History, the Lowe Hotel has plenty of, though it continues to move into its future while embracing its past.
Hauntings and ghosts are in the eye of beholder. Sloane himself has even been mistaken for a ghost by a bystander in the distance who snapped his photo while he stood in his apartment window. What some people see, others do not, whether it’s ghosts, or a cloud in the shape of a unicorn, or a painter taking a break in his studio. Two years ago at the time this article was published, Hobbs and Sloane were working on the renovation of room 309 – a room rumored to have experienced its own paranormal activity though for the two men, at that time, they said they never had any experiences other than creating that comfortable space. If there is a woman kneeling at the foot of the bed in room 309, it’s a king-sized bed with new bedding in a room of new curtains, blinds and decorated with framed pieces of steamboats which have all docked at Point Pleasant.
These new boutique rooms which fuse vintage pieces and original art with modern comfort, seem to share space very well with any sort of Lowe ghosts who appear to be quite harmless.
Whether looking for a “haunted” room, or a “not haunted” room, a banquet room or a dancer floor, the Lowe Hotel can accommodate any guest’s needs, which is a part of its past which will always determine its future.