KINGWOOD — Do you believe in ghosts?
If so, you may be interested to know that other fellow believers have seen a few restless spirits right along Main Street in Kingwood.
The Kingwood Public Library is said to be home to a ghost. According to some library employees, the ghost can be heard walking down the stairs to the basement. If you happen to be in the basement, its footsteps can be heard coming down the stairs, crossing the room and entering the back room, where the footsteps cease.
Hauntedplaces.org has this to say about the library: “Witnesses report noises and footsteps, objects that move on their own, doors that open and close by themselves, and books that jump off the shelves. A jail that once stood on the site (where the library was built) and is believed by some to be the source of the haunting.”
No one has any idea who is haunting the building, but the library does sit on the site of a former jail, which was torn down in 1968 to make room for the library.
The Preston County Inn
The library is not the only building in Kingwood hosting a ghost, however. The Preston County Inn is said to have a female specter named Stephanie, whose rose perfume can sometimes be smelled by customers and the staff.
Jean Guillot, owner of The Inn, said the most unusual ghost story he’s heard about his business came from a retired colonel with 30 years of military service who was staying at The Inn. When the guest checked out at 3 a.m. one morning to catch a flight, he took time to call Guillot.
“When he came downstairs, he said it was dark. He set his key down at the front desk. Then, he said this shape thing passed right through him and gave him the chills. He said it made his hair stand up, and dropped his body temperature and he could feel it pass through him,” Guillot recalled. “He said he ran out of here, got in his car and sped off. He said he’d never been so scared in his life.”
An electrician told Guillot about a time he had to go into the crawl space under the old part of the building.
“He said as soon as he got to where he was working, his light went off,” Guillot said. “He crawled back, and the flashlight came on. He crawled forward, and the light went out at the same spot. After three attempts, he gave up.”
In 2019, ghost hunters Christina Lee and Clyde Callicott from Ghostly Getaways spent a night at The Inn. Callicott said they were surprised at what they found.
“There was a lot more activity than I thought there would be,” Lee said. She said she photographed a mist next to the door in their room — but, Lee said, she and Callicott do not believe the ghost is harmful.
“When I asked for something, I got tapped. I heard movement behind the bar. A cold breeze went across my shoulder and I smelled the perfume for a second time,” Callicott said.
Guillot is skeptical — but not above being spooked occasionally himself.
“I just don’t believe it,” Guillot said of the haunting. “But every once in a while it’s almost like you see something out of the corner of your eye. It’s got to be old age, right? And glasses?”
The prison cells in the Kingwood jail have not held a prisoner for more than18 years. At least, not living ones.
The jail closed at the end of July 2005 and prisoners are now sent to the Tygart Valley Regional Jail.
Although not related, an incident that occurred prior to the closing has led some county residents to believe the jail might be haunted.
In 2005, two men committed suicide in the jail on the same weekend. According to an article in The Dominion Post, the first prisoner was awaiting transport to the state penitentiary on felony charges after being sentenced to serve 15-35 years in prison. His body was discovered by a corrections officer at about 4:45 p.m Saturday.
At 6:50 a.m. Sunday, the same corrections officer found the body of a man who had been arrested that Saturday evening and charged with trespassing and destruction of property, both misdemeanors.
Following the incident, Sheriff Ron Crites said the second man would have probably been released as soon as he was arraigned by a magistrate.
Both men hanged themselves with bed sheets in separate incidents, State Police Sgt. R.L. Monroe, of the Kingwood detachment of the West Virginia State Police, said following the incidents.
Sightings of ghosts are not new to Prestonians. There have been reported ghost sightings for ages, and not all of them were seen in buildings.
In his book, “History of Preston County,” Oren Frederic Morton writes:
“A young woman of the Big Sandy Settlement was on her way with her oldest child to her father-in-law’s. She saw approaching what she supposed was a woman of her acquaintance wearing a sunbonnet. She shifted her child to her other arm so that she might shake hands, but the phantom rose two feet from the ground and at that level floated toward the woods. Thinking the woman did not wish to meet her, and then failing to see what could have become of the object, she came to the firm conclusion that she had seen a ghost.” Morton wrote.