PARKERSBURG, W.Va. – Nestled into downtown Parkersburg, the Blennerhassett Hotel was built in the late 1800s. Despite several setbacks over the years–fires, floods, and major renovations–the hotel is still open for guests to enjoy. With all the memories many locals have of the hotel, it’s no surprise that the hotel has its fair share of ghost stories.
The hotel was named after Harmon and Margaret Blennerhassett, but the ghosts reported at the hotel are generally from the industrial era. Guests and staff have said that they have seen children riding tricycles, vaudevillians, and men wearing top hats and bowler hats.
“That’s just so cool because it tells about the history of the town through ghost stories,” said Jason Burns, a West Virginia storyteller, “because you’ve got the colonial era on the island with Margaret and then you’ve got the industrial era on the mainland with the hotel.”
Watch: Jason Burns discusses how ghost stories tell Parkersburg’s story
The woman in the elevator
One well-known ghost story at the Blennerhassett is the woman in the elevator. Legend has it that people will see the ghost walking into the elevator and vanish. Adam Dotson, Hospitality Guest Services Specialist at the Blennerhassett Hotel, recalled a time that a postman with a delivery spotted the ghost.
“He had never been here before. I told him to go through these doors and get on the elevator and go downstairs and I would be right with him,” Dotson recalled.
After a few minutes, Dotson decided to go with the postman to make sure he knew where he was going. He caught the delivery man before the elevator closed.
“He looked over at me and the first thing he said, serious as could be, ‘Is this place haunted?’” remembers Dotson.
The delivery man continued on to say that he caught the end of a woman getting on the elevator and that before the door shut, he stopped it, but there wasn’t anyone on the elevator.
The cigar room door
The ghost of a woman has been known to frequent the door facing Fourth Street on the Blennerhassett Hotel. The door had once been the entrance to the gentlemen’s cigar stand and smoking room in 1889. According to staff, the door now serves no purpose. Sherry Stevens, Human Resource Manager at the Blennerhassett Hotel, said she spotted the ghost recently while walking to her car one evening.
“It was mid-afternoon. I was walking down the sidewalk across the street, and something flashed, and it made me look in [the direction of the door],” Stevens recounted, “So I stopped for a second, and I saw a woman looking right at me in [the door] window.”
Stevens said she saw the woman twice within a week, and she always looks in the window when she passes by now but hasn’t seen the ghost since then. She describes the woman as having a white, expressionless face and bright red hair. Stevens said she could tell the woman wasn’t from this era because she wore a light blue dress that had a frilly, tall collar and a broach.
“I wasn’t scared and she didn’t look evil or anything like that,” Stevens noted, “It just made you stop and look, like, is this what I’m seeing? And then it went away.”
Staff have said that they frequently see black shadow figures in the basement. The figures are described as being silhouettes of people, sometimes wearing top hats, trench coats, and fur collars. The laundry room seems to be a hot spot for the ghosts, as many staff members have reported seeing the figures walk to a staircase at the end of the washing machines that leads to the bellman’s closet in the main lobby.
Dotson said he saw a shadow figure walk into his office, which is also in the basement. Thinking that the shadow was a server in black clothes, he looked in his office, and nobody was there.
The man with the bowler hat
One of the most famous ghost stories at the Blennerhassett Hotel is the story of the man with the bowler hat. The man is known to be seen in the dry storage area in the basement and in room 409, which is located a few stories above the storage area. Staff at the hotel believe that the ghost may be connected to The Kaltenecker Building, which was built next to the hotel by businessman Johan Kaltenecker. The hotel acquired the building and incorporated that portion of the building during the 1985 renovation.
Room 409 is the only two-story suite in the hotel. As well as seeing the bowler hat man, guests who stay in that room have reported hearing furniture moving around at night. One guest said the bowler hat man tried to hold her down in bed by her neck one morning.
Dotson said he had an encounter with the ghost while staying in room 407, next door to the infamous 409 room. He said he chose the room because it is known to be on the quiet side of the hotel, but he woke up to what sounded like a party in room 409. The next morning, Dotson told the front desk about how noisy the people in room 409 were that night, and the staff said he was the only one on that floor on that end of the hotel that night.
Those who are interested in taking a historic tour of the hotel can call 304-422-3131.