ST. PAUL, Va. (WJHL) – It’s been two years since the Western Front Hotel opened its doors on 4th Street.
Each of the hotel’s 30 rooms welcomes guests to spend the night nestled in Appalachia.
The building dates back to the early 20th century, and guests can spot hints that tell the building’s history as apartment buildings.
Events manager Kelsey King said some of the former tenants may never have left the hotel.
The man in the trenchcoat
The hotel’s game room overlooks the street, where passersby can glance in to see guests playing pool, throwing darts or relaxing on the couch.
Every once in a while, King said guests and staff report seeing a man in a trench coat and top hat gazing out the window.
“There was a young man that worked in the railroad, as well as he became a miner,” King said. So when he was in the mines, he ended up with black lung and he passed away between the ages of 30 and 35.”
They called a medium to try and contact the spirits that might be in the building. She made contact with a man in the room, who told her he liked the room because he could admire the ladies that visit.
The medium told the staff that the man in the trenchcoat likes the game room because it’s peaceful. Every once in a while, a guest might catch a whiff of his cologne.
“I’ve had several people say that when they stay in this room that even though we’re alone, it’s like there’s somebody in here with us,” King said.
A dark room
A grimmer story awaits guests on the second floor.
Room 202 is a staff favorite. A small living space greets guests from the door, leading into a separate bedroom and a view of one of the building’s terraces.
One day, King said housekeepers noticed blood spots in the room. She said she initially wrote it off . . . until it kept happening.
“It started to be an occurrence, not every single day, just in that particular room, the sheets would have blood on them,” she said.
The medium, who King said had no knowledge of the hotel prior to her visit, said she got “a feeling of suicide” in the room.
“The blood that appears may be coincidental, we don’t know, but it’s really interesting that that lined up with what our housekeeper had experienced,” King said.
The “hotel menace”
King said she was skeptical of the stories until employees showed her video of a server’s tray appearing to move on its own.
Servers of the restaurant in the hotel said a serving tray perched on top of drink dispensers moved on its own.
King said she was dumbfounded when she saw the video.
“In the video, the tray picks itself up and, flying-saucer, just across the room,” she said. “I just stood there with my mouth open in awe and was like, ‘Did that really happen?'”
King said she thinks it might be the work of the “hotel menace,” a spirit who staff believes is responsible for misplaced items or making a mess in the restaurant.
“He likes to hang out near the bar,” King said. “I think he was one of the people who came in and he was a regular at the ABC store.”
The “Western Front”
The hotel gets its name for the small gateway that stands at the mouth of town.
King said St. Paul was the last stop for many railroad workers at the turn of the 20th century. At the time, the town was known for its gunfights, gambling and brothels, so it was coined “the Western Front.”
“I think the building was built in 1903,” she said. “During that time was when the railroad was very busy, we were a rail town and we kind of transitioned more into the coal side of things, so we’ve always had a working-class group of individuals who lived in this town.”
That could explain the myriad of personalities that seem to exist alongside the hotel’s regular guests.
While King said she hasn’t experienced anything paranormal herself, she’s heard enough stories from her coworkers to give her pause.
“The night auditors that do some work back there night shift say that they always feel like there’s someone watching and they’ll hear footsteps in there and some people have seen orbs, so that’s pretty interesting,” she said.