Get Some Ghostly Encounters At The Historic Lowe Hotel

Rick Steelhammer
Staff writer

“Boston” Rob Mariano of “Survivor: Marquesas” fame got a major case of the heebie-jeebies here during an October stay at the historic Lowe Hotel.

Mariano, who now serves as the celebrity skeptic on the Sci-Fi Channel’s “Sci-Fi Investigates” series, was in town with a 17-person production crew for a week to film a segment on Mothman.

The legend of the man-sized winged creature arose from tales of a sighting near this Mason County town in 1966.

While the popular reality-television star ended his stay remaining a Mothman doubter, he was convinced that something eerie had taken place at the restored, 1901-vintage hotel where he and the crew lodged during its Point Pleasant stay.

While walking through a hallway early one morning, Mariano spotted a female apparition “in a long dress silently dancing, twirling to unheard music,” on the mezzanine overlooking the lobby, according to Dr. Bill Doleman, an archaeologist who serves on the “Sci-Fi Investigates” paranormal investigation team.

In his series-related blog, Doleman said the experience left Mariano “genuinely spooked — pun intended,” and “ready to leave.”

“He did talk about refusing to stay here,” recalled Ruth Finley, who, with her husband, Rush, owns the Lowe Hotel. “But I thought he might have been doing it to add to the drama.”

A side-story on the Sci-Fi Channel’s Mothman segment was devoted to paranormal encounters at the Lowe Hotel. The hotel also was featured in a recently aired segment of the Travel Channel’s “Weird Travels” series.

Mariano was far from the first guest to report encountering a presence at the hotel. Otherworldly riverboat captains and the ghost of Matewan Massacre figure Sid Hatfield are among other apparitions sighted at the hotel.

“A little girl on a tricycle has been seen several times in the second-floor hallway,” added Rush.

Those who don’t encounter ghosts might report hearing noises or experiencing feelings of coldness or dizziness at various points in the 54-room hotel. Or they might experience nothing but the peace, quiet and serenity that comes from spending getaway time in a restored lodge overlooking the Ohio River in a small, peaceful West Virginia town.

“Whatever ghosts we have must be descendents of the Casper family,” Rush said. “They’re all friendly.”

Since buying the hotel in 1999, the Finleys say they have personally encountered nothing more eerie than the rare feeling of being watched, or being near some type of unseen presence. But over the years, guests have supplied them with a growing list of perceived paranormal encounters.

“We used to keep all those stories quiet, because we thought it would be bad for business,” Ruth said. “But in the last several years, these kinds of experiences have come into vogue, and we’ve encouraged guests to share their stories.”

“From what our guests tell us, the north end of the hotel and the area around the second-floor parlor seem to have the most apparitions,” Rush said.

Now, people ask for rooms where ghosts have been seen, and bring cameras in attempts to photograph energy orbs — glowing sources of light attributed to either paranormal activity or natural phenomena, depending upon the photographer’s point of view.

People seeking paranormal encounters now account for nearly half of the Lowe Hotel’s guests, according to Ruth Finley. “I’d say it’s at least 40 [percent] to 50 percent,” she said. “It really helps out in the winters, when things could get very slow.”

Ruth, a coal miner’s daughter from Logan County, and her husband, a Lincoln County native, bought the hotel in 1990, and have been gradually restoring it.

A new roof and boiler are among major improvements, in addition to repairing and repainting all windows.

“Places like this are money pits,” Ruth said. “That’s why so many of them get torn down. But with buildings like this, profit shouldn’t be the only consideration.”

Built in 1901, the four-story building began its life as the Spencer Hotel, named in honor of Point Pleasant lawyer J.S. Spencer.

“It was built using gothic architecture by the same man who rebuilt The Homestead after it burned down in 1898,” Rush said.

“It’s been operated as a family-owned hotel ever since. We’re the third family to own it. It may be the oldest continually operated hotel in the state.”

The hotel got its current name after the Lowe family bought it in 1929, in the opening months of the Great Depression.

The building contains numerous original stained-glass panels. A series of panels adding natural light to the hotel’s banquet room are believed to be Tiffany. Other treasures include a huge lobby fireplace lined with tiles from the Rookwood Pottery kilns in Cincinnati, a grand staircase and the state’s last operating telephone switchboard system, in use until 1990.

In addition to the banquet room, the 100,000-square-foot hotel houses a grand ballroom on its fourth floor, a mezzanine dining area for smaller gatherings, and the Red Parrot lounge. Rooms include antique-filled singles, doubles, suites equipped with Jacuzzis, and two- and three-room suites for family groups. All have private bath facilities.

“We operate the hotel like a family inn,” Ruth said. “People either really like it, or they don’t get into it at all.”

The hotel has hosted yoga and alternative-medicine workshops, and Finley said she would like to see it become a regional center for hosting alternative health-related retreats and seminars.

For now, though, with the Mothman Museum housed on the same block and the gleaming, stainless steel Mothman statue rising 12 feet above Fourth Street near the hotel’s entrance, the Lowe is a natural overnight spot for fans of the legendary winged creature.

“Mothman helps bring people here,” said Rush Finley. “But people love it when they come here, and they keep coming back.”

The Lowe Hotel is located at the corner of Main and Fourth streets in downtown Point Pleasant. For more information, call 675-2260 or visit

To contact staff writer Rick Steelhammer, use e-mail or call 348-5169.

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