Mark Williams Story | Photograph by Mark Williams and Sarah Simmons
Overlooking the confluence of the Muskingum and Ohio rivers in the heart of downtown Marietta, Ohio, stands the Lafayette Hotel, a timeless monument with a past steeped in history. Established as Hotel Bellevue in 1892, the structure was rebuilt and named Lafayette in 1918 after the original building was destroyed by fire. Named after the Marquis de Lafayette, a French hero of the American Revolution who visited Marietta in the mid-19th century, the historic hotel now boasts 77 unique rooms, including several suites, penthouses, and lounges.
Although the hotel has been equipped with all expected modern amenities, the style and decoration of the rooms, furnishings and fixtures remain elegantly vintage. Many of the hotel’s unique artifacts are still on display, such as the ringing system that guests use to communicate with staff and the original front door lock and key.
Two of the hotel’s most notable features are the Gun Room and the Riverfront Bar and Grill. The Gun Room, a large, family-style dining room, is best known for its collection of handcrafted long rifles, all built between 1795 and 1880. The spacious restaurant also displays a riverboat telegraph, steering arms, and steering arms. ‘other steamboat instruments. Several pilot wheels designed for Navy ships during World War II hang in the dining room. The Riverfront Bar and Grill, renovated and opened in 1984, overlooks the Ohio River and has a stunning large hardwood bar hand carved by local Amish carpenters. When the weather is nice, you can take to the Riverfront’s outdoor patio and sip a wide range of unique cocktails, cocktails and other colorful libations.
Thanks to its centralized location, the Lafayette Hotel feels like a hub of activity. Hotel guests can easily venture into the bustling streets of Marietta where they will find numerous souvenir and antique shops, unique restaurants and concert halls. But for the more daring adventurers, paranormal-type activities await. Hidden Marietta, a travel and events agency specializing in all things scary, offers walking tours, in-depth building tours, and even guided paranormal investigations of the city’s most haunted places. The group also offers tarot card readings and vintage photographs, and operates a curiosity gift shop located in the Anchorage Mansion, a historically haunted 23-room Italian-style mansion built in 1859. Each January, Hidden Marietta hosts a paranormal exhibition, where participants from across the country meet at the Lafayette Hotel to discuss, explore and investigate the city’s most remarkable ghost stories.
Organizing an annual paranormal exhibition at the Lafayette Hotel is no coincidence either. The hotel, especially the third floor, just happens to be one of the most haunted places in town. Each year during the show, Hidden Marietta rents out each room on the third floor for convention guests. On Friday evening, the hotel shuts down and the lights begin to lock out. Professional ghost hunters and paranormal enthusiasts then have the opportunity to explore certain areas of the hotel with their sophisticated equipment, looking for signs of the unknown. But as Lafayette CEO Sheila Rhodes explains, Ghostbusters are more likely to find something more malicious than bad, if they find anything.
âIn my 25 years as CEO, I haven’t personally experienced anything like this,â Rhodes explains with a laugh. “But nine out of ten times when people report weird experiences, it happens on the third floor.” Rhodes goes on to tell the story of S. Durward Hoag, a former owner of the Lafayette Hotel. Along with her father, Hoag bought the Lafayette Hotel in the early 1930s and became the hotel’s public face and a staunch advocate for the promotion of Marietta herself. He and his family lived much of their life on the third floor of the Lafayette Hotel, until Hoag sold the hotel in the early 1970s. He died less than 10 years later, but many believe that Mr. Hoag’s ghost is still on the third floor, watching over hotel guests and playing tricks on staff. Rhodes notes a famous incident involving a guest and a sandwich as one of the most famous paranormal pranks.
âAccording to the story, a guest on the third floor had just finished making a sandwich when he sat it down on a low table in his room and went to wash before eating. When he returned from the bathroom, the sandwich was nowhere to be found. After searching the room, the puzzled guest continued with his day. The next morning, he woke up to find the missing sandwich on his coffee table, exactly where it was before it mysteriously disappeared the night before. “Most of the stories are like that, so I think Mr. Hoad is a nice, funny ghost.”
Whether you’re visiting for a show at the Adelphia Music Hall, exploring one of the city’s countless historic sites, or trying your hand at ghost hunting, Hotel Lafayette is the perfect base. for everything related to Marietta. But if you’re brave enough to stay on the third floor, protect your sandwiches.
To book and get more information about the Lafayette hotel, visit www.lafayettehotel.com.