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.
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Tornado vets balance preparedness, practicality
Few things in nature are less predictable than a tornado. They can form quickly. They strike weirdly, leveling one building while leaving its neighbor untouched.
Salisbury proved it can happen here
It was an event that many residents of Salisbury, Somerset County, would have laughed off prior to it spinning through the small northeastern town and shaking it to its foundations. A Category F3 tornado touched down on May 31, 1998, carving out 10 miles of homes, businesses and livelihoods.
When the storm hits
Tornado survivors and seasoned observers suggest people do two simple things to prepare for tornadoes: Know where to take shelter, and move quickly when the time comes.
9 Dems vie for 4 council spots
Democratic Party voters will have a crowded field of Johnstown City Council candidates to choose from on Tuesday.
With four seats open, nine individuals entered the race. The top four vote-getters will advance to this fall’s general election. Also, two Democrats originally joined the race for mayor, but the death of Anthony Gergely has left Frank Janakovic as the only remaining candidate.
Primary turnout likely will be low
The weatherman is promising warm temperatures and rain-free skies on Tuesday, the day of the primary election in Pennsylvania. But the good forecast may be overshadowed by a lack of voter interest in what is shaping up to be a mundane election.
Mudslinging hits the small time
It’s not just for presidents, governors and legislators anymore.
The time-honored American tradition of the smear job has hit close to home – specifically, the council race in Meyersdale Borough and the supervisor race in Stonycreek Township, Somerset County.
A Johnstown icon passes on
Carmel C. Coco of Johnstown, who was known for his skill at repairing shoes as well as his love for music, died peacefully at home on Saturday at age 95.
Rendezvous attracts diverse crowd
A few grandparents watched their little loved ones inspect the beautiful nature – grass, rocks, trees and bugs – at Greenhouse Park on Saturday. Some young men and women strolled throughout the grounds with cold beers in their hands on a sun-splashed spring day. Other campers sat around fires, playing guitars, telling stories and sharing laughs.
IN BRIEF | Solomon stabbing under investigation
A stabbing occurred at the Solomon Homes housing project in Johnstown on Saturday.
BILL EGGERT | ‘Gatsby’ still great nearly 90 years after debut
A new movie just released based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s great American novel “The Great Gatsby” is here.
The Baz Luhrmann film is the fourth major theatrical movie based on the classic novel.
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