Archive for June 27th, 2011

Me in front of the Avondale Hotel

I would love for you to convince me that ghosts exist. But you can’t. You can tell me stories, you can show me all of your evidence, but unless you show me a ghost I’m probably going to roll my eyes.  

I’ve changed my mind.

The other day my wife and I decided to get some burning bushes for the front of our house.  We ended up in Philipsburg. Philipsburg is the home of Philip of Philips head screwdrivers.  You can even see the original building were Phil made his first screwdriver, rumor has it that it took him three additional years to come up with the screw.   It was a difficult three years, so difficult Philip suffered from horrible chest pain so he came up with a type of milk that relieved heartburn.

Usually when we are entertaining guests and bring them to Philipsburg I start with the screwdriver story, I’ve actually had one or two people wondering. The problem is I never know when to shut up, by the time I get to either Philips Milk of Magnesia or sometimes Philip Magnavox people begin to realize I’m making things up as I go.  Seriously though, this post is not about Philip or his town.  In fact Philipsburg has nothing to do with this story, except that we could not find burning bushes in Philipsburg.

We ended up going to Black Bear Nursery which is in Winburn over by Kylertown. Let me tell you about Kylertown. Population 426, according to the census bureau four hundred and forty two of the people are white one person is Indian the other two are unaccounted for.  As strange as it may seem, one of those 426 people is a co-worker of mine. Winburn Pa, according to the PA demographic Information has an estimated population is 105 people. 

We found ourselves driving deep in the heart of Winburn and there was no sign of anything.  We traveled down the deserted roads marveling at the beauty of the lush green forest that surrounded us.  We turned a corner and came across a building badly in need of repair from the direction we were traveling we could only see the backside.  Some of the windows on the first floor were cracked many on the second floor were boarded up.  Just as we were passing the building my wife saw a sign, “Avondale Hotel, Open for business” “Turn in!” my wife said, “Let’s stop and check it out!” The front of the building was done up for Memorial Day complete with lit up neon beer signs in each of the windows. The first thing I said to my wife was “I hope it is haunted”. The door was wide open and there were two grizzly looking guys sitting out front talking, as we parked the car they got up and headed inside.  My wife jumped out of the car and headed for the door.  I thought it best to guard the car.

Except for the young girl tending bar the front of the hotel was empty.  The girl explained to us that her father purchased the place a year ago and has slowly been restoring it.  They just got their liquor license but the kitchen and upstairs were still closed.  The ‘girl’ showed us a display case that held some of the treasures her father had found.  The Avondale was built about 100 years ago and burned down in its early years, restored and closed in the early 80’s and only re-opened a few short months ago.  The actual wooden bar was beautiful and was part of the original building.  I had fun running my hand over the 100 year old wood and thought about what tales this piece of ‘furniture’ could tell.  The girl showed us a ledger book along with some pictures. This is coal country and I could imagine the workers hooking up their horses to the hitching posts and sitting at the bar after a hard day’s work. 

My wife asked the girl if the place was haunted.  She told us that the contractors have told her that sometimes at night the 100yr old cowbell that hangs above the door will ring even when the door is closed.

I asked if I could meet her father, I just wanted to meet the man who would take on such a wonderful challenge.  She told us he was working and wouldn’t be back until late that night.  I apologized as I thought that one of the men that came inside must have been her father.  She looked at me oddly and asked me, “What men?” I told her about the two grizzly guys sitting outside. I got a blank stare in return.  My wife told her that they came inside just as we were parking the car.  We got the same blank stare.  As we turned to leave I noticed a picture above the bar, it was one of those pictures that was done in Sepia and made to look old.  “That guy!” I said.  “He was one of the men that came in here just as we pulled up.”  She looked at me and said, “You guys are serious? You saw that man come into this building?” 

“Yes” My wife and I answered together. 

“That” the girl said is George Womer!  He built this hotel 100 yrs ago!

Our first view of AvondaleAvondale front, nowMe in front of Avondale HotelAvondale now

Avondale Hotel, 100 yrs ago

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