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Strange Occurrences At A Haunted Theatre

 

Small town in Ohio. I began working for a local non-profit that was restoring an historic theater/cinema and all of these events took place there. I was not the only one to witness some of these events, but because the building was bought by a local church and donated to the non-profit; as well as for the sake of it's reputation, we were all told rather strictly not to mention/talk about any supernatural events. Even if asked directly about them.

When I first started as the Executive Assistant, my boss the Executive Director; joked about how employees believed the building was haunted and some of them even refused to go in specific parts of the building. Being a believer of the supernatural, but knowing a lot of stories can be simply chalked up to imagination, I never expected to see anything... I was very wrong.

The building being restored was an active movie and performing arts theater; my job during the week was to act as an assistant for the non-profit and as a cinema manager on weekends. My boss was a micromanager who was VERY particular, so it took nearly 2 months before I was allowed to close down by myself. The first event happened the very first time I closed without her.

After the last movie, myself and about 6 other employees were cleaning up. On Saturdays we did a deeper clean than just sweeping up popcorn; mopping, wiping down chairs and bathrooms ect. I was in the lobby talking with an employee when another employee we'll call D, asked me to go upstairs to turn on the brighter lights in the cinema area. D was one who refused to go upstairs, even with a group.

I immediately jog (yes jogged, it was my first time managing these employees by myself and wanted to make a good impression) over to and up the stairs to the projection room where the lights are. I passed nobody as I did this; D had gone back into the cinema area and the other employee I was talking to started vacuuming the lobby. But, when I got to the door of the projection room, I saw that the lights had already been switched on; so I jogged back down to the cinema area. Nobody was upstairs with me during this time and the upstairs lights were off except in the projection room.

When I got to the door of the cinema, I noticed D and another employee T standing in the middle of the room looking up into the windows of the projection room. They see me walk in and both look shocked as they look back up to the windows. At this point I've reached them and look to where T is pointing. There I see a shadow-like figure moving around in the projection room. We all are seeing the same thing; a shadow walking back and forth across the room upstairs.

Now, to be fair, anyone would look shadowy from this angle, lighting and distance... So though I was creeped, I wasn't freaking out like D and T. I tell them it's probably another employee, even though I KNOW I didn't pass anyone upstairs, and get back to work.

A couple minutes after I've left the area, D comes to get me saying she's found muddy foot prints. I follow her down to the very front of the cinema and see muddy bare foot prints starting by one of the emergency exits. It had been raining all that evening so my immediate thought was that someone had come in the emergency exit. I grab some employees to check the doors and restrooms, but I was honestly too afraid to look upstairs after the shadow person. We didn't find anyone, but upon closer inspection we noticed that the footprints went about 15 feet from the exit doors and then just stopped... Only to reappear in an entirely different area of the room. The seating area fit about 450 people so the room was huge, and we found 5 very distinct places where the prints started for a few feet and just stopped. These were muddy, bare, average size, foot prints; they didn't look like anything else and all 4 or 5 of us agreed on what they seemed to be.

Trying to be a good manager I attempt to act cool and ignore my goosebumps to mop them up myself. D told me that she'd seen these prints before and told my boss, who brushed it off, and of course 2 weeks later it happened again. This time they weren't in the same spots and it wasn't raining, but there they were.

Months later, I was in my upstairs office. My desk faced the door of my office, which faced the door into the projection room. As I was at my computer, I felt an odd tingle sensation over my whole body and thought I saw something move behind my computer. I looked into the projection room expecting a mouse or bat (normal occurrence). Hopefully this part makes sense - I had my eyes focused and on the lookout for a critter, after not seeing one I sort of pulled my gaze back from the projection room and into the doorway of my office and literally it felt like my heart stopped. It physically hurt. In my doorway was a very translucent, almost clear figure. I felt like it was a man and tall, nearly filling the entire doorway, but it had no discernible features. You could easily see through the middle of the figure but the outside edges had this odd wave-like quality to them; like heat waves on a road.

I didn't move and looked down at my keyboard waiting for it to go away; but terrified at the idea of it coming towards me. Eventually, the feeling of being watched left and when I looked up it was gone. The whole thing was probably only a minute or so, but it felt like hours.

Another time I had gone upstairs to grab a report for the boss. She had just had someone there about renovations so all of the upstairs lights had been left on after they left.

I was going through all the rooms (parts of the building had been used as an apartment by the person who built it in 1905 so there were a lot) turning lights off before heading into my office for the report. While there I got a landline call, but a few seconds into the call it went to static and a few seconds after that, the call dropped. In a matter of seconds I hang up, grab the report, and walk out of my office backwards turning out the light. When I turned around every light I had just turned off was back on. Every... Single... One. I felt my stomach drop and ran down the stairs; heading straight outside to have a smoke with shaking hands. I'm not sure if the interference on the call had anything to do with this event, but it was an odd coincidence if not.

Once, my boss, the hard nose skeptic experienced something. I was returning from a late lunch to attend a board meeting I wasn't excited to attend. At this point I'd been at work for 9 hours and only left for about 30 minutes to grab food. When I was walking up to the main glass doors I saw my boss looking out the door with a rather angry face. So of course I was annoyed thinking she was upset with me for leaving for half an hour (something she did often but that's another story).

After walking in she told me that she thought someone was in the building. As we were searching, she told me that while in her downstairs office she heard a man saying "hello". She called back to it and looked around, but found nobody. Thinking maybe she had butt dialed or there was a phone glitch, she checked her cell and the landline; neither of which had anyone on the line. Still hearing the hellos, she started trying to follow it; yelling "hello" back. But each time she got to the area she thought it came from, it would call out from across the building. Of course we found nobody when we searched.

Other incidents:

- Seeing a full bodied white translucent man in a suit walking between seats in the cinema area before disappearing.

- Contractors swearing they saw a figure or heard talking in the building when nobody was there.

- Sink in the men's restroom turning on full blast nearly every night. It was so bad that I began taking pictures of it off each night for proof, because boss thought patrons were leaving it on and I wasn't catching it before leaving.

- Feeling of being watched when alone or an overwhelming sense of fear for no apparent reason.

Though it's old and there were reportedly at least 2 fires, there haven't been any confirmed deaths in the building. But the man who built it was at one point a vaudeville star. After the first fire and the fall of vaudeville; there was a second fire that took out the majority of the stage area and the entire 3rd floor. At this point he was bankrupt and some believed he set the fire intentionally for insurance money. He sold the building to a man who turned it into a cinema. My theory is that the vaudeville star is haunting the building.

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Comments about this paranormal experience

The following comments are submitted by users of this site and are not official positions by yourghoststories.com. Please read our guidelines and the previous posts before posting. The author, t_bev, has the following expectation about your feedback: I will read the comments and participate in the discussion.

t_bev (3 stories) (32 posts)
+1
3 months ago (2020-08-22)
Melda- thanks for all the information! Having not grown up with any sort of religious background, I'm woefully uneducated about the subject.
Melda (10 stories) (1338 posts)
+3
3 months ago (2020-08-22)
Just an update. The Catholic Church has since abolished the concept that babies are born in a state of venial sin. Thank heaven for that.
Melda (10 stories) (1338 posts)
+3
3 months ago (2020-08-22)
t_bev - What an extremely interesting (and nerve wracking) place of employment. As much as I enjoyed reading about your experiences at the theatre, would I want to work there? Actually, I might!

I was raised Catholic and was educated at a convent for most of my schooling, so I know a fair amount about purgatory and the associated venial sin. I would suggest that you google both - there's a lot of literature out there.

We were always told that a baby who dies before being baptised will not go straight to heaven but will reside in purgatory for a while before being allowed into heaven. This is also why babies are supposed to be baptised when they are a few weeks old because it is believed that they have been born in a state of venial sin. Baptism ensures that they are in a state of grace and are worthy of entering the Pearly Gates.

As you continue through life obviously you notch up a few sins. For most of us these will not be mind blowing but when you shed your earthly shell you have to atone for them nonetheless. Enter purgatory! If you're a murderer or have committed heinous crimes, enter hell!

I have my own opinion on the above but won't go into it here.

But to finally answer your question, I understand why you were told that the footprints were left by a soul in purgatory. I personally am wary of using that word. As a youngster I used to picture these poor innocent babes hanging between heaven and hell. "Mr so and so was a drinker so he'll be going to purgatory."

My opinion is that the prints were possibly left by a spirit which for some reason is stuck on this earth and has not yet been able to cross over, or perhaps at this stage does not want to cross over.

Regards, Melda
t_bev (3 stories) (32 posts)
+1
3 months ago (2020-08-21)
AugustaM - Since the building is historic, it's on a few different tours in the area. So we had to collect and learn a lot about it's history for those tours. (Something I thoroughly enjoyed!) We have a great Historical Society in town and they were the best at getting us info.
Also, since the building was rebuilt/remodeled so many times, they were invaluable at getting us old pics of it to try and figure out what we were looking at after tearing down walls and such.
As far as it being near any bodies of water, no it isn't. There's a mostly dried up creek the next block over but that's about it. I hadn't heard of the triage thing before; based on when it was built and used it's possible it was used like that at some point so now I'm on a mission to find out and I'll let you know!😁
When talking about the foot prints once, someone of the Catholic faith told me that was a sign of someone in Purgatory. I've never heard that before or since, I'm not religious, and I don't really study the paranormal so... Not sure where their theory on that came from. Anyone else heard that before?
t_bev (3 stories) (32 posts)
 
3 months ago (2020-08-21)
MrsRamsay - I loved working there. Sadly working for a non-profit isn't really the best way to pay your bills so after 2yrs I moved on. I worked there 2018- the beginning of this year.
The building itself was fantastic. Especially when doing renovations; we would knock down walls to find rooms and cubbies and balconies; it was awesome. At one point we found a legit tunnel that went in a sort of U shape throughout the basements and under stage area!
Out of curiosity, what was the theater that you saw the faces in the pics?
AugustaM (6 stories) (982 posts)
+3
3 months ago (2020-08-21)
The ghost of vaudeville ❤ for some reason, it strikes me as rather wistful and sweet - just a tendency to romanticize, I guess! It might be interesting to poke around old newspapers during the period when that theater was in it's heyday, you might uncover some rather interesting acts and maybe gain some ideas regarding the haunting. The muddy foot prints are intriguing- is the building near any body of water? I have heard of large buildings like theaters being used as emergency triage sites during floods or boating disasters - perhaps something of the kind happened in this situation. 🤔
MrsRamsay (8 stories) (151 posts)
+2
3 months ago (2020-08-21)
Wow, old theaters are amazing. So many places to hide. So much energy and excitement when people are watching a good movie (too bad they're not making many of those these days).

I heard about an old theater in Ohio or somewhere in the midwest, and went to look it up online. When I pulled up the wikipedia article, I immediately recognized faces in the windows of the theater. I snipped it, blew up the images and have it saved. Lots of faces. I wonder why nobody seems to have noticed them or maybe they did and put up the photo anyway. Thanks for sharing your story.
t_bev (3 stories) (32 posts)
+3
4 months ago (2020-08-17)
LFrog1386,

I agree that the entity or entities have really done nothing threatening, more just startling. I think you are probably right about it being a side effect. It's weird when the feeling of fear comes over you. It comes out of no where and is overwhelming. The first time it happened to me I was at the projector as it was going through previews. I had this sort of weight come down on me and my heart started pounding. I was looking down at the controls and I knew if I looked up towards the door I would see it. (At this point I hadn't seen it in my office door yet) I kept staring at the controls until the feeling went away. It once happened to me and 2 others when we were back stage setting up for a show. Long story short we all just froze simultaneously until the feeling went away. Since I'd had this feeling more than once before at that point I asked them if they felt it too; which they did. One was an employee and another was tech for the show and hadn't ever been in the building before.
t_bev (3 stories) (32 posts)
+1
4 months ago (2020-08-17)
LuciaJacinta,

The Vaudeville shows were traveling variety shows more or less. I'm not sure about any magic acts, but I know actors would travel into town for shows there. The apartment area was said to have been built because people of color and women actors were looked down on and sometimes had a hard time finding accommodations in town; so they were put up in the apartments on the 2nd and 3rd floor.

As far as the haunting rumors, they began while it was a chain cinema. Past employees who have come to tour the building have mentioned occurrences going back to the late 70's; but any current rumors are squashed quickly. As I said in the OP, the reputation of the building and the non-profit that runs it is very important to the current owners.
LFrog1386 (1 stories) (46 posts)
+4
4 months ago (2020-08-16)
It's interesting that the vibes you feel are scary or uncomfortable, since nothing this apparition has done could be construed as threatening. It makes me wonder if it's just a normal side effect of a haunting.

If anything, the spirit might be annoying, causing more work for you and your employees, but it doesn't appear to be threatening.

Regardless, I know for a fact that I would have had a severe case of the Goosebumps myself! Thanks for sharing your story; it was well written and I thoroughly enjoyed it. 😊
LuciaJacinta (8 stories) (291 posts)
+3
4 months ago (2020-08-15)
Interesting. Did the actors do magic shows? Could they have dabbled I'm black magic perhaps leaving something behind? Were there travelling shows there or just locals?

I've heard of a place that is in Ohio that is a haunted theatre... How long has the hauntings been known?
t_bev (3 stories) (32 posts)
+6
4 months ago (2020-08-14)
Hello,

The theatre was the actor's prize. It's said that he always told his mother he would build a theatre in his backyard and he kind of really did. The most damaging fire was in 1918, and the building went into disrepair until 1940 when it was opened as a cinema. The actor himself died in 1930 at the age of 61, but I don't know what the cause was.

I agree with you that it could be anyone. The man who reopened it in 1940 is another local star who made the building his prize. In fact it's been said this man haunts another building in town!

I'm glad you enjoyed the story and thanks for the comments!
Lealeigh (5 stories) (502 posts)
+1
4 months ago (2020-08-14)
Hello t_bev and welcome to YGS,

I love old theatres even though they give me the creeps. I was wondering if you ever tried researching the life of the vaudeville actor who built the theatre. Did he die in an untimely way or was he still connected with the theatre after he sold it? How long ago was it that he died?

It is my opinion that lost spirits are attracted to places that have been destroyed or rendered uninhabitable by disaster. I lived in a town in North Georgia for many years that was destroyed by a fire in 1881. It was rebuilt after the railroad was built in the area. I grew up in that town in the 80's and early 90's and I always felt I was being watched. I've never felt that way anywhere else.

Perhaps it is not the vaudeville actor that inhabits your theatre; it could be anyone.

Thank you for sharing your experience working in the theatre! I enjoyed reading it.

- Maria

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