The Hotel Prichard was built on the corner of 9th Street and 6th avenue in 1926 by Frederick C. Prichard. It was designed by the architect Henry Ziegler Dietz and boasted 13 floors (a bad omen?) containing 300 guest rooms, all with private baths, a ballroom, and several public AND private dining rooms. Prichard, who had made his fortune in the coalfields of Fayette County, built this building, but is also famous for the Robson-Prichard Building, now known as the Guaranty Bank building; at the time, these were two of the tallest buildings in the city.
However, the good times would soon come to an end for Prichard and he lost his fortune during the Great Depression, only a few years after his lavish hotel was built. He was forced to sell his Huntington properties, but instead of giving up completely, relocated to Texas. He never lived in West Virginia again, but did visit from time to time, up until his death in 1960.
Over the years, the hotel hosted a number of very interesting guests! In 1949, Gene Autry stayed there while performing in Huntington. In 1956, the staff of NBC's Today Show stayed at the Prichard...including the famous chimpanzee host, J. Fred Muggs! He was the first (and presumably only) chimpanzee to stay at the hotel during its glory days. Even John F. Kennedy and his staff stayed at the hotel during the 1960 presidential campaign!
It seems like symbolically, the year 1960 was the start of the hotel's decline. That was the year when Prichard himself passed away...and the year when Kennedy was elected, only to be assassinated three years later. It lasted another 10 years as a hotel, but it was never the same as it was in its glory days. Then, in 1970, the hotel was purchased by Polan Realty and converted into an apartment complex, with businesses renting space on the ground floor. Today, Shane Polan is the owner of the building, which is still being used as an apartment.
It was in one of these apartments that a young tenant reported a year of living hell...not from a nightmarish roommate or an inconsiderate landlord....but from a constant barrage of paranormal activity!
The account, which occurred on the 10th floor in room 1003, was submitted to the Ghosts of America site, and contains the whole gamut of hauntings. A man was seen wearing turn of the century clothing, drinking glasses shattered one at a time over a period of several weeks until the renter was left without any, and an incessant ringing of the doorbell was heard on a regular basis. The ringing would stop when the renter would get within a few feet of the door...and of course, there was never anyone there when the door was answered. Even the renter's cat was terrified of the apartment, refusing to come out from under the bed. When removed from the situation, the cat blossomed into an outgoing, friendly animal.
During the course of my very brief look into the history of this location, I've already found a ton of deaths associated with the hotel, leading up to present day as its use as an apartment. The Prichard has also, in recent years, suffered with a run of bad luck in regards to illegal drug activity, petty crime, and a disproportional number of fires. The building has stood strong, though, and the current owner, Shane Polan, is working hard to clean up the magnificent old building and restore her grandeur. However, its because of this checkered past that its anyone's guess as to who or what might be haunting this Huntington landmark. Again, I'll be looking into the history a bit more, especially about what was on the site before the hotel was built, but I'd love to hear from you readers! Do you have a ghost story or any additional historic information? Do you have a wonderful memory of staying here, eating here, or even attending prom in the ballroom? Please submit anything you'd like to share in the comments below, or reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks, and happy haunting!
Photo and historical info from:
Jean Tarbett Hardiman, Herald-Dispatch