Friday, November 9, 2012

Hotel Morgan: Haunted or Not?

Construction of the Hotel Morgan
The idea of the Historic Clarion Hotel Morgan being one of WV's premiere haunted hotels was first introduced to me several years ago.  A psychic and paranormal conference was to be held at the hotel in February 2009. Organizers of the conference claimed the hotel was actually haunted...and as part of the festivities a ghost hunt of the venue  was to be offered.  However, when I started to do some research on the hotel, I found a rebuttal article by owner, Richard Brant.

Brant claimed that since his family purchased the hotel in 1999, he had never heard of any stories of a haunting, did not believe it to be haunted, and would eventually ask conference organizers to remove any indication of such.  Conference organizer and local student, Anthony Atha, claimed that the information about the hotel being haunted came from a guest of the hotel who had had a paranormal experience there.  Details are sketchy as to WHAT that experience entailed, but other websites claim that Room 314 of the hotel is haunted by a little girl who drowned in the bathtub.  As of this date, I have not confirmed nor denied the death of a little girl...

But, death IS a part of hotel life, and many paranormal researchers are quick to point out the high statistics of paranormal activity reported at hotels, where people are constantly coming and going, leaving their residual imprint.  And of course, people die at hotels, far away from home.  Such scenarios are a recipe in ghost-lore for creating a haunting, especially when they involve a location with so much history.

The Hotel Morgan, located at 127 High Street opened on October 16, 1925, after four years of construction.  It was named, on the insistence of the local historic society, for Zackquill Morgan.  Zackquill Morgan was not only the son of WV's first white settler, Morgan Morgan, but founded the town of Morgantown before his death on January 1, 1795.

When it originally opened, the hotel was a place of splendor, featuring red satin upholstery, crystal chandeliers, and an opulent ballroom where many of the town's social functions took place.  The Hotel Morgan hosted many notable names, including Eleanor Roosevelt in 1934 and President Harry Truman in 1954.  With the addition of the adjoining Warner Theater (also believed to be haunted) in 1931, Hotel Morgan was THE place to stay.

However, time would take its toll on the elegant establishment, and it became more of a motel than a hotel.  The rooms were tiny and decorated in an outdated 70s scheme, featuring a color scheme of pink and green.  Business was down, so the hotel catered to WVU dorm overflow and post-football game party-goers.  That was until a man named R. Ted Brant purchased the hotel in 1999 and began a costly renovation to restore it to its former glory.

Unfortunately, Ted Brant would pass away in 2000 before fully seeing his project come to fruition, but his wife and son took over and finished the major historic rehabilitation project...and still continue to improve the hotel, combining technology and modern amenities with the original 1920s charm and elegance.  They also changed the color scheme, opting for a Mountaineer blue and gold decor.  It officially opened in 2000, on its 75th birthday, as the Historic Clarion Hotel Morgan.

But that leaves the question of whether or not this location is actually "haunted."  I personally haven't seen anyone publish any ghost tales from this location, and the only indication of its paranormal past is a refuted claim of a second hand personal experience and a likelihood based on similar locations.  Therefore, I'm not ready to call this location haunted--at least in the traditional sense.  Rather, I think years of people leaving their mark on the location and all the historic events that have taken place within its walls will forever live on.  Those who are in-tune and who can look past the obstacles of modern day will undoubtedly be able to pick up on those energies.  Book your stay and see what glimpses of the past YOU uncover!

An audio tour of historic downtown Morgantown is available at the hotel desk, featuring the many locations, including the hotel, that were added to the National Register of Historic Places under the Downtown Morgantown historic district.

Additional information for this blog was found in a August 20, 2001 Charleston Daily Mail article by Danny Forinash.


  1. Not knowing anything about Motown or the Hotel Morgan, I stayed at the hotel in early December 2012, and I definitely experienced an (uncomfortable but not necessarily bad) energy on the third floor. Can't remember my room number, though. It was near the High Street/front end of the hotel, on the south side. In my untrained-but-in-touch experience, I'd call it bad mojo more than a spirit or ghost. Nothing that interfered with my sleep, so I wasn't worried about it. Thanks for your post. I just learned about the town's high levels of paranormal activity.

    1. Thanks for sharing! Morgantown has many haunted locations, and I've only begun to scratch the surface there. The Hotel Morgan was one location, however, that I had people ask me about so I wanted to share its (haunted?) history as soon as possible.

      Anyway, I wouldn't necessarily say I had any special abilities to be in-tune to things, but it seems that hotels and motels in general have such strong energies attached that its not hard to feel something in the air there. I think this is probably what's going on here...there's something, an energy or what have you. Its not necessarily sentient and not everyone is going to pick up on it, but its there. At least I know where I'm going to stay the next time I'm up that way!

  2. Ernest "Ernie" McKay managed the Hotel Morgan from at least 1949 to the mid-1960's. He and his family resided at the hotel during those years. I know Ernie's son well. Email:

    1. Thank you for that information! I'm always interested in hearing about those who spent a great deal of time at any supposed haunted location. If Ernie's son has ever mentioned any paranormal activity he and his family witnessed, or his father discussed with him, I'd love to hear it!

      And, as an investigator myself, I can't help but wonder if maybe anyone has ever claimed that Ernie's ghost (I assume he is now deceased?) has been seen or experienced at the hotel, since he put so much of his time and life into it. Thanks again for your information!

  3. I worked at there for 2 years as a housekeeper and the breakfast set up. I was in the hotel from 5am to 9am walking around by myself ( there was workers at the desk, but I was alone while working) before the rest of housekeeping would come in. I personally cleaned 314 a couple of times wit no little girl. However the whole hotel is a place where you look over your shoulder, constantly feel like someone is right behind you, and many times an uneasy feeling. But no ghost ever seen. Patty and Helen cook in the kitchen behind the ballroom, they are older ladies, and their music makes the perfect setting to look over the ballroom and daydream about the balls and parties in the ballroom. JFK also rode in the back elevator and the elevator is still operational and never changed, for some reason I hated that elevator, just felt uneasy being in it.

    1. Thank you for commenting, Taletha! That testimonial seems to go along with what I believe---that there's a feeling, perhaps even a creepiness, that some people pick up on, but that doesn't necessarily make the building "haunted." How cool is that about the elevator, though?! Thank you again for sharing your experiences...or lack thereof, I guess, lol.

  4. I got pictures of a ghost I re did the pic over and over to be sure


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