Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

September 20, 2010

Bluefield Ghost Tours: Telling tales of history, hauntings

BLUEFIELD — There will be plenty of chances to hear historic stories of downtown Bluefield and get spooked this October as a ghost tour and paranormal activity hunt are coming to Bluefield.

Beckey King helped establish the first Bluefield Ghost Tour, which will be taking place during the last three weeks of October. Participants will have the opportunity to take a haunted walking tour of downtown Bluefield as well as the old Beaver High that later served as Central Junior High School. For those who want an extra thrill, the tour is also offering a VIP paranormal tour of the school with ghost hunter Mark Painter.

King said she and Bluefield Mayor Linda Whalen have discussed the idea of conducting a ghost tour in downtown Bluefield for a few years.

“Mayor Whalen and I had been discussing it and had been bouncing ideas back and forth for a few years,” King said. “There seemed to be more interest and more activity in the downtown area and we thought this year would be a great time to go ahead. It also helped that the new owner of Central has opened up the building. We thought this was a good time for it.”

The tour not only hopes to give locals a good scare but also to bring attention to downtown buildings in need of repair and restoration.

“The money will go to helping Central with their project fund and go to fund the city fund for distressed buildings, to help revitalize the downtown area,” King said. “A lot of these buildings haven’t been opened in years, even decades. We hope we will get people interested in these old buildings and opening them up. We hope this will bring some business to the downtown area and more attention to the fine businesses we already have downtown.”

Lawrence Calfee, the new owner of the Central Junior High building, is one such person who has taken an interest in putting a business in an old downtown building. King said Calfee has opened up the building to the tour to bring attention to it. Calfee is an artist and woodworker and uses the building as a studio. King said Calfee hopes to open the building up to other artists looking for studio space as well.

The tour will encompass various buildings around Bluefield.

“We’re going to Landmark Antiques, and we are in negotiations with the Grenada Theater,” King said. “Other buildings on the tour include the old Bluefield Supply Building and the Commercial Bank Building. The Summit Players building will also be on the tour and the Summit Players will be performing for us.”

King said a special lights-out tour will be conducted at the Central Junior High building following the main tour.

“We’ve had a lot of requests for actual ghost hunts and four actual ghost hunters, so we invited Mark Painter and Lisa Roark, two local paranormal investigators,” she said. “One of the Summit Player’s, John Dyer, will be performing on the stage at Central during the tour. It’ll be the first time in 32 years that anyone has performed on that stage.”

The tours will begin at the Sugar Shack downtown and buses from Bluefield Area Transit will help shuttle participants from location to location.

“The city has graciously allowed us to use their bus service,” King said. “We will start at the Sugar Shak, talking about history and sharing stories. Then the walking tour will begin and the tour will break for refreshments at the Summit Players. That will be followed by the one hour tour of Central. After that, participants will be shuttled downtown or can stay for the additional four hour VIP ghost hunt tour.”

According to King, Central Junior High School was chosen as the building for the ghost hunt because of reported paranormal activity in the building.

“Mark Painter and other paranormal investigators have gone in and picked up orbs, lights and other phenomena,” she said. “The ghost hunters in the area are very interested in the building.”

King said a Facebook page dedicated to the tour has already had “an amazing response” and she expects between 400 and 500 people to attend the main tours. She said she hopes the tours will highlight the importance of preserving historic buildings in downtown Bluefield.

“We don’t want another Matz situation,” she said. “We want to keep up these buildings and have the funds to keep and restore them.”

Tours will take place on the Fridays and Saturdays of Oct. 15-16, Oct. 22-23 and Oct. 29-30. The regular ghost tour will cost $12.

The VIP Central Junior High Lights-Out Tour will cost $32 and is only open to those age 18 and older. There is a limit of 50 people for each nightly VIP Lights Out Tour.

Tickets go on sale on Oct. 5 and will be available at the Sugar Shak at the East River Arts complex in Bluefield, the Bluefield State College bookstore and the Concord University bookstore.

—Contact Kate Coil at kcoil@bdtonline.com

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