18 Dec 2007
By Brad Bauer, email@example.com
After chasing ghosts all night in Marietta’s Historic Lafayette Hotel, Lanie Miller was too afraid to take an elevator down from the third floor to the lobby Sunday morning.
“Have you seen that thing,” said Miller, 36, of Nelsonville. “That thing scares me.”
Lanie is a co-founder of Seekers of Spirits, a group invited to the hotel to investigate reports of paranormal activity. The group uses a variety of electronic equipment including cameras, digital recorders and handheld devices that measure electro-magnetic levels to try to capture evidence of a spirit or “presence.”
“Basically, we’re called in if someone wants evidence or ‘proof’ of something paranormal,” said group member Miriam Miller, 31, of Columbus.
Lanie Miller said none of the five members had any “personal experiences” while visiting the hotel this past weekend.
“That doesn’t mean there isn’t something there,” she said. “We haven’t had time to look at all of our recordings.”
Lafayette front desk clerk Jenny Harper said she has worked at the hotel about two-years without bumping into a single ghost. But she has heard similar stories from numerous guests that make her wonder.
“A lot of people tell me about a little boy who is lost on the third-floor,” Harper said.
Those who have seen the child describe him as being dressed in clothing more fit for the late 1800s or early 1900s.
“I know it’s out there but I would rather keep to myself and just be a non-believer,” Harper said.
Once known as the Bellevue Hotel, the Lafayette was built in 1882 at the confluence of the Ohio and Muskingum rivers. The hotel was destroyed by fire in 1916, however, the original foundation and walls that were still standing were used to rebuild the structure in the following years.
The hotel averages about 35,000 to 40,000 overnight guests each year and also serves as a host to a variety of Marietta service clubs. The Lafayette is a hub of activity during the annual Sternwheel Festival, Riverfront Roar powerboat races and blues festivals.
The Seekers of Spirits spent most of their time looking for signs of spirits in the basement of the hotel, Lanie Miller said. It is another area of the hotel that employees have indicated strange occurrences.
"We gather information from employees of where there is the most activity and just kind of hang out in those areas," she said.
The group does not attempt to flush out any spirits, but rather just try to capture evidence of their existence.
"We have referred a few people to priests to have their homes or businesses blessed," Lanie Miller said.
The group of ghost hunters are all cousins and have been working together for about a year. They do not charge for their work, but accept donations for travel expenses or batteries for their equipment. The group formed after sharing stories of similar "visits" by a deceased grandfather.
Miriam Miller said evidence collected at the hotel could be processed by the end of this week. Depending on the results, additional studies could be planned.