The Lowe Hotel was originally opened between 1901 and 1904 under the name of Spencer Hotel. It was owned and operated by two brothers, Homer and Griff Smith, and was named for J.S. Spencer, a friend of the brothers, financial backer for the hotel, and local lawyer/judge.
Homer Smith was born in 1868 and made his career in the hotel business. By the age of 23, he had been promoted to manager of the local Phoenix Hotel. In 1901, he decided to open his own hotel. Also in that year, he married Vausa Beal. Vausa and Homer had three children, who grew up in the hotel.
Griff Thomas Smith was born in 1867 and was a socialite and ladies' man. He served under the WV Secretary of State for the duration of two governors before taking a position as a private secretary for the IRS commissioner. He left Washington, D.C. to return home and join his younger brother in the hotel business.
The four story hotel was built on land originally owned by Col. Andrew Lewis. Construction cost $65,000 and another $10,00 was used to furnish the hotel. The ground floor had a bank, barber shop, bar and grill, sample rooms, billiards room, and a ladies' reception. A mezzazine between the first and second floor contained the original kitchen and dining facility, floors two and three served as guest rooms, and the fourth housed a grand ballroom.
The hotel was built in order to serve the heavy river traffic that stopped in at Point Pleasant, with rooms on the third floor set aside especially for tradesmen and river men. When Homer Smith and J.S. Spencer launched the Security Steamboat Company in 1914, the hotel became a popular spot for its passengers, but also its crew during repairs and inclement weather.
The Smiths owned the building until it was purchased in 1929 by Homer D. Lowe, who renamed it the Lowe Hotel. Lowe was the son of hotel owners in Spencer, WV, and grew up in the hotel business. When Lowe acquired the building, he changed more than the name. He put a stop to the back room gambling and prostitution that was previously allowed, and opened up portions of the hotel for the use of civic and church groups.
Lowe passed the hotel down to his son, Homer Lowe Jr. in 1945. Homer Jr. finally retired in 1987 and put the hotel up for sale. It was purchased by Rush and Mary Ruth Finley in 1990, and is still owned by them today.
*No ghosts are reported on the first floor.
*The mezzanine between the first and second floors is home to one of the most famous of the Lowe ghosts. A beautiful, but disheveled young woman is seen dancing to music only she can hear. She is barefoot, wearing a nightgown, and has long, flowing hair. It is rumored that she is the ghost of Juliette Smith, Homer Smith's middle child, and only daughter. As a young woman, Juliette loved music, and she loved to dance. She had fallen in love with a local boy, but her father disapproved of the marriage. The boy went on to marry another, while Juliette never did marry. During the taping of a Sci-Fi Investigates special on MothMan, the cast and crew stayed at the hotel, where the token skeptic, Boston Rob, claims to have seen her. Some say you can lure her out by leaving a single long-stemmed rose out on the mezzanine.
*On the second floor, a small child between two to three years old is seen riding a tricycle. Most often the child is seen as solid as a real person, and is so concentrated on her ride that she makes no eye contact or interaction with witnesses. Other times, only the sounds of laughter or the squeak of tricycle wheels is heard. It is generally felt that the child is a residual imprint of one of the Lowe children who lived and grew up in the hotel.
*The third floor is perhaps the most active. The first of such is perhaps that of a former maid. Guests and employees have heard someone whistling when no one is around, and report a sudden chill and sense that someone is watching them. Transoms over the doors are often found in the opposite position than that in which they were left, and cleaning supplies are found lying around where no employee has been to clean. Further, the cleaning products and supplies are never the brand or type that is used by the hotel staff.
*The next third floor ghost is that of Captain Jim, who resides in a three room suite, probably 316. Captain Jim was first reported in 2005 by a woman staying at the hotel during a local festival. She had returned to her room to find a man standing, looking out the river towards the river. She asked him his name and what he was doing. He replied that his name was Captain Jim and that he was waiting for a boat. At this time, the woman noticed the man had no legs, and quickly fled the room. Research shows that a man by the name of Captain James (Jimmy) O'Brien was a captain for the Homer Smith steamboat in 1915.
*Also on the third floor is a man with a beard and wearing 1930s style clothing. He is seen frequently in room 314. A witness later brought back a postcard bearing the picture of Sid Hatfield, the Matewan police chief who was gunned down in McDowell County in 1921, and claimed he was the man she saw. There is no record that Sid Hatfield ever stayed at the hotel.
*In the fourth floor ballroom, it is said that the sounds of a string-quartet can be heard playing, day or night. It is best heard at the center of the room, about three feet away from the stairs.
*In addition to the ballroom, the fourth floor also houses storage rooms. In one of these storage rooms is the rocking chair belonging to Mr. Lowe's widowed mother. At one point, one of the Finley daughters, Marcia, sneaked up there for a cigarette, and experienced the chair start rocking on its own.