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.
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 Grand Midway Hotel's morose, gothic stylings are consistent throughout the building, lending an otherworldly essence - or just sucking up all the light.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
- Local News
Haluska retiring: Avoids incumbent vs. incumbent campaign
The weeks of speculation and rumor ended Tuesday with the announcement that a longtime Cambria County legislator is retiring.
Sitting gov faces a rare challenge
Bob Guzzardi is ready to do what no one has done in Pennsylvania in almost a quarter of a century – challenge an incumbent governor in the primary.
- Home is Where The Tribune-Democrat is Delivered!
- Primary candidates
CVS deal may hinge on sign size
Westmont Borough and its zoning hearing board have an agreement with the developer for CVS Pharmacy to build a drugstore on the site of the former Stutzman School provided the pharmacy agrees to a sign half the size it wants.
USS Somerset commissioning expense report rejected
In exactly what role Somerset County’s commissioners attended the USS Somerset commissioning on March 1 became a point of contention during the board’s meeting on Tuesday morning.
Somerset officials approve bridge ordinance
More than half of the bridges owned by Somerset County already have weight restrictions on them.
Vehicle homicide suspect granted a second delay
For the second time this year, a planned guilty plea for a Cambria County man charged in the vehicular homicide death of a woman was continued Tuesday in Cambria County court.
Southmont seeks return of rec panel seed money
Southmont Borough Council at a special meeting Tuesday agreed to ask that its share of seed money for the new West Hills Recreation Commission Ltd. be returned because terms for forming the new commission are not being met.
Search for couple continues
Richland Township police continue the search for two people in connection with Monday’s heroin bust at a local hotel.
- More Local News Headlines
- Haluska retiring: Avoids incumbent vs. incumbent campaign