May the ghosts be with you while you spend the day or night at the Lafayette Hotel in historic downtown Marietta, Ohio. Visitors and employees anxiously report stories of paranormal activity in this grand hotel on the banks of the confluence of the Muskingum and Ohio Rivers.
Back in 1882, river traffic was heavier than it is today. The Ohio River provided the freight and passenger routes for much of the eastern part of the United States. Of course, these riverboat travelers needed a place to get meals as well as a place to spend the night. Here at the meeting place of two major rivers, the Bellevue Hotel was built. This quite modern hotel, for the late 1800’s, had a fast running elevator taking guests to 55 rooms, five of which had baths. Rates at the Bellevue were $2.00 a night
After a fire destroyed the Bellevue Hotel, another hotel was constructed on the original foundation. In 1918 the present triangular shaped Lafayette Hotel opened for business. The name was chosen to honor Marquis de Lafayette, French hero of the American Revolution, who was believed to be the first tourist to visit Marietta in 1825. There is even a plaque, near the hotel at the edge of the Ohio River, marking the spot where he came ashore.
A popular meeting room bears the name of Rufus Putnam, who many list as the founder of Ohio. His leadership established Marietta as the first permanent United States settlement in the Northwest Territory. In a letter sent to his former home, Rufus Putnam described the land along the Ohio River to his friend as: “a country of most pleasant climate and of the rarest beauty and enduring charm”.
The Riverview Lounge is where the “Lady in White” often appears hovering over the carpet, while she smoothly moves through the room. The bar happens to occupy the same area where the ladies’ dressing room was located in the original hotel.
When selecting a room in Marietta’s only downtown hotel, you will probably be given a choice of view – either the Muskingum River or the Ohio River. Here the ghost of Mr. Durward Hoag, former owner of the hotel, watches over guests and staff from both directions. Sometimes guests feel an icy cold draft pass through their well heated room. Evidence of his presence appears in flashing light bulbs, rearranged papers, hidden objects, and often merely a wisp of light. Maybe Mr. Hoag’s spirit is bored!
When speaking with recent visitors, footsteps were reported outside their door, but no one was in evidence. The elevator, carrying no passengers, left the floor a couple times during the evening and headed to the rooftop. Later that night when they were in bed, another couple felt someone jump in the center of the bed where they were resting. All guaranteed they had not visited the Riverview Lounge.
The Gun Room is a popular place for lunch. The walls are adorned with photos of great majestic sternwheelers that traveled the Ohio River. A display of antique long rifles contains one made by J.J. Henry that accompanied the Benedict Arnold expedition to Canada in 1775. Waitresses tell of coming in early to work and seeing a figure leaving the front section of the restaurant. Often the swinging doors to the kitchen open for no reason at all. Some feel that Mr. Hoag is checking on his staff. On the plus side, these spirits are never harmful.
Enjoy the ambience of this richly historical Lafayette Hotel on the river sometime soon. They have been expecting you for nearly a hundred years!
The Lafayette Hotel is located at 101 Front Street in Marietta, Ohio. Exit I-77 at Exit 1 and follow Route 7 South, which is also Pine Street. At the third light, Pine Street continues straight and becomes Green Street. Continue on Green Street until you come to the hotel on the corner of Green Street and Front Street. Parking is available between the hotel and the Ohio River as well as on the other side of the hotel.