Capitol Theatre opened its doors on August 2, 1913. Over the years, it’s served as a vaudeville theater, a theater for silent films, and a few years later, “talkies.”
In July, 1949, a terrible fire swept through the theatre during a matinee performance. About 600 people were safely exacuated from the building but one of the ushers, 17-year-old Richard Duffin, who was helping patrons get out of the building, died in the basement from smoke inhalation. Some think that his ghost still haunts the theatre today and goes by the nickname “George.”
Over the years, security guards have heard and witnessed things they can’t explain.
They secure an area and turn off the lights, only to find the lights blazing and doors unlocked later. They report hearing voices, footsteps, and slamming doors.
Some of the theatre’s equipment seems to bear out the theory of the ghostly haunting.
One night, an infrared surveillance monitor picked up activity in one of the theatre’s seats. It appeared that someone was sitting there. As the security guard watched it on screen, it suddenly streaked across the theatre and disappeared.
Visitors and employees have also witnessed strange things in other parts of the theatre.
Several employees have noted that the elevator seems to have a mind of its own. It shows up on different floors without being called, and will sometimes take patrons to the basement without any buttons being pressed. Speaking of the basement, those who venture down there often smell smoke, and an overwhelming feeling of anger.
The hauntings were featured on the Syfy channel a few years ago, during an episode of Paranormal Witness. Dave Murphy, a security guard, told Syfy that he had an incident where he heard voices behind him during one of his shifts. When he turned around, no one was there. He went to the theater to investigate, but it was empty. Murphy walked into the basement and noticed it smelled of smoke, although there wasn’t any fire.
In 1999, the theater’s stage manager, Doug Morgan, recalled some of the experiences he had with the ghost.
“I feel his presence every once in a while,” Morgan told the Associated Press.
George is said to be particularly active during performances of the “Nutcracker.” Morgan described an incident on the opening night of a “Nutcracker” performance where the stage lights wouldn’t turn on around the stage, although the power source and lighting program was active.
“I walked down on stage and looked up and let out a bellow … George, knock it off or I’m going to have you exorcised!’ ” Morgan said. “My stage lights came right on.”
You can learn more about Capitol Theatre’s ghost stories and get a behind-the-scenes tour on October 30th. Doors open at 5pm and tickets are $65 per person. There will be angel and tarot card readings, a photo booth, raffle, a reception and dress rehearsal for the upcoming production of Jewels.
Click here to RSVP. See you there!