Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Historic Benton Hotel

As many of you know, I recently opened a booth at Antiques Et Cetera in Benton, Ky.  It was shortly after that when I started hearing stories about the building that it occupies.  It turns out that the building was originally The Benton Hotel and a dry goods store.  And get this - it's reputed to be haunted!  Well that just interested the hell out of me, so I started asking questions and talked to store manager, Sherry Krech, and she offered me a tour.  So come along and check it out with me.....

Is there anything better than an antiques store loaded to the rafters with vintage items?  Not much, unless it’s housed in a circa 1900’s building that has a reputation for being haunted.  Welcome to Antiques Et Cetera, located at 1026 Main Street in the heart of downtown Benton, Kentucky.  Walk into the store on any given morning and you are welcomed with a smile, a “Hey y’all, ”  and the featured coffee of the day.   Most mornings will find Manager Sherry Krech and her crew bustling about, tidying up booths, ready to help you in your quest to find “just the right item.”  The building itself was originally known as “The Benton Hotel” and was built in 1892.  The first floor housed a general store and people would travel by horse and buggy from miles around to make purchases.  The 3rd floor was a massive hotel and the perfect place for weary travelers to rest for the night.

Today the basement /lower level of the building is cavernous and rooms yawn in the darkness.  Pull string lights bounce shadows off the walls and offer glimpses of European furniture, galvanized pots, piles of chairs, wrought iron gates, and wooden crates that are scattered throughout the rooms.   

 Original tin tiles peek out from behind modern day drop ceilings and walls are sheeted with wide shiplap boards.  At one time the building was heated by coal and you can still see the coal room and coal chutes, and small pieces of coal are scattered about like black diamonds.  

An engineer’s workroom once occupied one huge office and an interesting side note is that for some time the Marshall County Tribune Courier was housed there.  The entire building is steeped in Benton history.

For the past 30 years the first floor has been the home of Antiques Et Cetera.  Individual booths offer a wide variety antiques and collectibles, jewelry, men’s items, clothing, unique crafts, household items, holiday d├ęcor and a bridal registry.  It’s a great place for both local residents and vacationers to poke around in the nooks and crannies looking for something special.  

The mezzanine is located above the rear of the first floor and when the National Stores Company was located there, that’s where messages were shot through tubes to the offices.  Now the Mezzanine showcases antique’s for sale.

Check out those ceiling tiles....

These days the third floor is used as storage but at one time the Benton Hotel filled the space.  Let's go check it out....

 It’s not hard to imagine how majestic it must have been.  The floors are covered in tongue and groove, the walls in shiplap, and massive 4 and 5 panel doors are surrounded by stunning woodwork and finished with ornate doorknobs and locks.  

The original Grand Room is overflowing with antique European furniture – bureau’s, chairs, beds, desks, and tables.   

Small office suites overlook Main Street and guest rooms and sitting areas line a hallway.  The guest rooms were beautiful two room suites and I can just picture them with huge beds and bureaus in one room and chaise chairs and water pitchers in the other...

At various times over the past 125 years the upstairs has also housed a dentist office, Kentucky Farm Bureau Insurance and an aviary. 

At the rear of the Grand Room sits the space where the original rope and pulley elevator was located.  

It is rumored that sometime in the early 1900’s a man was murdered here, in front of the elevator – something about flirting with a woman is the story I have been told.  Right about where I am standing.....

I’ve heard that ghosts inhabit the upper floor and we found it strange that the elevator area was the only place in the entire building where the camera didn’t want to co-operate.  My assistant tried twice to take photos of the elevator shaft and area directly in front of it and each time the camera refused to take a shot.  Towards the end of our visit she walked over to try a third time.  

As the camera finally snapped a picture she heard boards creaking behind her as if someone was walking across the wooden floor.  She turned, thinking it was me, and said a shiver ran down her spine when she realized nobody was there and that I was across the room with Sherry.   Sherry  said that people have taken pictures that once developed show orbs of light and there have been times when she feels cold blasts of air for no reason or that the hair on the back of her neck has prickled when she walked into room #1.   

At various times people have come down from the third floor and claimed that they saw or heard a little girl.  As for myself, I felt nothing out of the ordinary, but one plastered bedroom wall revealed eerie images to me – a dancing boy in one area and in another section it looks like a small boy and girl holding hands.  Take a look - can you see them?

Could they be ghosts from the past?  Maybe……

If you’re in the Kentucky Lake area, take the time to visit Antiques Et Cetera.  You’ll recognize the building with its peeling white paint and faded “National Stores” sign emblazoned across the front.  They are open daily.

Take a look at the windows on the upper level and let me know if you see any ghosts from the past peering out at you.

Please visit the AntiquesEt Cetera FB page and follow along for updates on sales, weekly booth photos and promotions!

Please read the companion article in the June 29th edition of the Lake Light newspaper if you're in the Kentucky Lake area.


  1. I love a good ghost story! You built up some tension with the part about the person being murdered in front of the elevator. I wonder what went down...

    1. I'm trying to research that. I need to find time to get to the local library or historical society.

  2. I've no idea what I'd actually DO with it, but would love to have one of those ceiling tiles.
    Interesting why there's no 2nd floor. I mean, since the mezzanine isn't a complete floor, shouldn't #3 be #2? :)

    1. Well, actually the basement also has an office area that leads out onto the side street, so that's level 1, the antique mall level is level 2 and the top floor is level 3, if you can picture that. :-)

  3. Interesting tour - no ghosts

  4. My boyfriend swears he sees a grayish silhouette of a face in the bottom right hand corner of the fifth window on top floor

  5. Cool ! Didn't know you-all live in area. Yep, been hearing those stories since moving back here in 2005. They use to have stuff for sale on those upper floors to ....

    1. Hi Keith! We have a lake house here. We'll be living here permanently soon.

  6. Ha's the owner thought about restoring the hotel. Not only tours, but use as it was originally built, a hotel.

    1. I thought that would be a good idea too about the tours.

  7. I see all kinds of things in different rooms. I'd love to come and take a tour.

    1. Isn't it grand? I wish they would open it up for tours.


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