National Hotel- The Ghost Who Comes For Dinner
Sierra Lodestar 06/24/09
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The Ghost Who Comes For Dinner

By Antoinette May Herndon

“Twas the sad tale of floating Flo that hooked me. A ghost chaser from way back, I determined to check it out Jamestown’s National Hotel Restaurant.

Charles was not so charmed, his daughter, Marion. David, her husband, was equally dubious.

I had some persuading to do, but the National’s coveted Triple A’s 3-Diamond Award, received for 29 consecutive years, was an effective argument. We were wined, dined and delighted.

But first the ghost story:

More than 100 years ago, Flo, 19 and pretty, checked into the National Hotel with a story to tell. A New York heiress, she’d met Henry, a handsome young lawyer, while traveling by train to San Francisco.

It was love at first sight, Flo confided to the other hotel guests. Henry proposed marriage, but knowing her relatives would be outraged, the couple planned to meet six weeks later in Jamestown where Henry was to travel on business.

Flo kept her rendezvous with Henry at the National—separate rooms of course. A wedding was planned, only days away. Flo hired a local dressmaker to sew a lovely lace-trimmed wedding gown. On Christmas morning Henry presented Flo with a diamond ring.

The day after Christmas Flo sat in the dining room waiting for Henry to come down when a shot rang out.

The story goes that a drunkard stumbled into the doorway of the hotel and shot Henry as he descended the stairs. Flo found him at the bottom lying in a pool of blood.

`The hotel staff heard uncontrollable sobs throughout that day and night, and the next night and the one after that. On New Year’s Eve they heard nothing. Alarmed, the manager entered Flo’s room to find her seated by the open window dressed in her wedding gown. She was dead.

“Heart failure,” the doctor said, but those who’d come to know Flo bore witness that her heart had not failed—it had broken.

That night revelers passing by the hotel were startled by a “woman in white” floating at an upstairs window.

There are those who believe that Flo still floats—mainly through the National Hotel’s dining room. Our party of four came up short on Flo sightings enjoyed spirits of another kind.

Marion and David were delighted with their pom-tinis (Absolut vodka, triple sec, pomegranate juice with a splash of lime, $8.) The “classic” martini listed on the menu really is a classic--as good as they get, Charles’s scotch on ice is pretty classic too. Each were $7.

The dining room of the 1859 hotel is warm and comfortable. Lots of charming old paintings and photographs, a sense of history everywhere you

look, 19th century elegance transformed to 21st century comfort.

People sometimes accuse me of being too generous with my praise. No one’s going to say that once they’ve tasted the National Hotel’s scampi etoufflee—prawns sautéed Cajun style with scallions, fresh, tomatoes, mushrooms with white wine and herbs. ($20.95) Just tell me that isn’t fabulous. The prawns and scallions were plump, tender and succulent, the sauce a perfect accompaniment, spicy enough to show character but not over powering.

David, an alfredo aficionado was delighted with his spinach fettuccini with its creamy parmesan sauce, ($14.95.) Marion and Charles went for the house specialty, garlic roasted prime rib, served au jus with creamed horseradish. Our splendid wait person, Leslie Chitwood, told us these were the last two servings.

I counseled “no.” So much for my opinion! They ordered them anyway. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief after the first bites. The prime rib was “Just” perfect--just like the evening itself.

VITALS: 18183 Main Street, Jamestown. Phone: 984-3446. Open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Credit cards accepted. Reservations advised.


The National Hotel’s dining room offers a window on the past.