The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

October 31, 2012

SLIDESHOW | One night in The Grand Midway Hotel

When Blair Murphy described his vision for The Grand Midway to paranormal investigators from New York, he referred to it as his "living, breathing canvas."

What blooms from every corner of this artists' commune is a vibrant, unapologetic clash of the religious and the occult against the backdrop of a pop culture wasteland.

Here's a slideshow of the best photos from our stay at The Grand Midway Hotel on All Hallows' Eve. There were no apparitions or orbs to be found in the album but it's still difficult to take an uninteresting photo at this haunted house.

The grounds

A front view of The Grand Midway Hotel along Graham Avenue in Windber. When The Tribune-Democrat arrived on All Hallows' Eve, owner Blair Murphy's ash-white Alaskan malamute - named Lucien - stood guard.

The style

The Grand Midway Hotel's morose, gothic stylings are consistent throughout the building, lending an otherworldly essence - or just sucking up all the light.

The art

The mural that consumes the dining room ceiling was - like nearly all the artwork seen in The Grand Midway (and there's a LOT) - contributed by one of the artists that has paid the hotel a visit or has called it home for a time.

The people

The quote beneath the dining room mural reads, "teach what you would learn." In the more than 10 years since Blair Murphy bought The Grand Midway, creative types from all over the country have communed in this common house of the arts, including horror culture celebrities.

The history

This safe appears in historical photos from The Grand Midway Hotel's miner boom heyday in the 1800s. Over the years, The Grand Midway Hotel has been many things to the Windber community - including the local brothel.

The macabre

A skull bearing long protrusions that resemble demon horns rests among other snapped horns on a table in the dining room. Behind it is the Hebrew symbol for Yahweh that is spray-painted on many of the dining room chairs.

The beasts

At any given moment during a stay in The Grand Midway, a piece of taxidermy is within line of sight. This second floor gallery gives off an impression of being watched. And for good reason.

The icons

In the Edgar Allen Poe room, an animatronic raven watches over a table frequented by Dungeons & Dragons players. The Grand Midway Hotel is like a magnet for curios and one-of-a-kind crafts.

The magick

In the "magick" room, various magickal props are shelved or scattered about - dozens of card decks, a metal-tipped wand and a crystal ball for divination. Good luck finding this secret alcove of the hotel. It's well hidden and we're sworn to secrecy.

The demonic

This third-floor room belongs to one of The Grand Midway's resident demonologists. Employed by the Catholic church in exorcisms and sanctifications, demonology is a discipline this resident does not take lightly, according to owner Blair Murphy. He prefers to discuss and teach his craft only to clergy, who use the knowledge for defense against evil entities. The painting on the door is a slightly modified version of Raphael's "St. Michael and the Dragon."

The holy

A Buddha bust assumes wall space next to a portrait of Ganesha. According to paranormal experts, blanketing the building with religious or spiritual effects helps keep evil spirits at bay.

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