Halloween Tales: Ghosts of the Orpheum, Hauntings in Radio
Editor’s Note: This is the second of two articles about alleged paranormal experiences from people in your very own Magic Valley. Happy Halloween!
Why is it that some people are more prone to have paranormal experiences than others? It’s easy for someone to say there is no such things as ghosts. But to those who’ve experienced the unexplained, the answer is a little more complicated.
Jared Johnson, for instance, said he’s a bit of a skeptic because he has never experienced anything paranormal at the nearly century-old Orpheum Theatre he manages in downtown Twin Falls. But there are plenty of other people who have claimed to have seen, heard and experienced what they say is the supernatural in the building, he said, and there’s enough supposed witnesses to corroborate the stories. He has no reason to doubt them.
In the spirit of Halloween (pun intended), we decided to gather personal stories about the supernatural from Magic Valley residents to share with our readers. Here, presented for your reading pleasure, is the second of our two-part series on paranormal experiences in the Magic Valley.
In this article you’ll meet the spirits of the Orpheum, including the phantom old lady who appears randomly to watch plays from a seat in the balcony; and the unsettling noises and unnerving experiences at a local radio station.
The Old Lady in the Balcony
Johnson, whose family owns The Orpheum Theatre, says that growing up in the Magic Valley he always wanted to do something for the theater house that opened to the public in 1920. When his family bought the building, it was his chance, a dream come true.
Johnson, who is a music and theater performer, serves as the facility’s theater manager. When meeting with him it’s easy to see the pride he takes in his work and in the building itself, because when he talks about it he is enthusiastic, sharing a number of stories about its history and what his family is doing with the building today. His excitement is refreshing, even if the musty-aired theater house isn’t.
Dim lighting, old-style light fixtures and furniture help give the place a feel for a now bygone time. The building has been a staple in downtown Twin Falls for nearly 100 years – and, apparently, so have some of its resident ghosts.
Johnson said a number of people who’ve worked on stage have claimed to see an old lady sitting in the balcony during play rehearsals. The apparition apparently has her favorite seat, because she is always seen in about the fifth or sixth seat in the third row on the west side of the balcony. Johnson said he’s never seen her, but she has been described to him as an older woman with silver hair wearing a dress and hat. A number of people have described her the same way.
She apparently doesn’t stay to meet the performers, because she quickly disappears before anyone can reach her.
Two Tall Figures and the Running Girl
The spirit of a tall bald man apparently haunts the stage, walking back and forth against the back wall, and a dark silhouetted figure has been seen by many to pace the upstairs apartments.
The bald figure, when seen, seems anxious, as if he is waiting for performers to hurry and change costume; while the figure upstairs, seen by outside passersby, walks from one window to the next.
Once, Johnson said police called him to say that reports were made to them of someone being inside the building when it was closed, but the facility’s alarm hadn’t gone off. Johnson had heard about the pacing figure so many times that he told police, in essence, “Oh, never mind. I know what it is.”
The ghost of a young girl allegedly also haunts the theater. Many people have said they have heard a small child’s giggle in certain places in the theater and have heard the distinct footfalls of small feet run across the stage when no one was there. Sometimes, Johnson said, a person might see small feet or a dress whip around a corner.
Johnson said he doesn’t believe there’s anything malicious or malevolent in the old theater, and although he has not experienced the paranormal himself – the official statement of the theater is that no, it is not haunted – but it wouldn’t surprise him if there is a presence (or multiple presences) from the past that linger in the old building.
Ghostly Sounds at the Radio Station
Is it electrical equipment, pranks from a colleague, or something else?
Someone was walking down the hall, I just knew it. I heard the rustle, like clothes sweeping against each other as they do sometimes when some people walk. I turned my head to see who was in the building with me, who was walking down the hall, but no one was there. I got up from my desk, called out. No one answered. I walked down the same hallway where I had heard the movement. I checked the aisles and cubicles to see if any of my colleagues had come back into the office, but I was alone, tidying up a few projects before leaving for the day. This wasn’t the first time I had heard strange noises while alone in the office, as it someone had been here with me when they were not. But this evening the noises were most pronounced.
I went back to my desk. Another minute or two passed and then I heard more ruckus, as if some object fell from a wall or was thrown across one of the rooms. I checked around the building again, but still found it empty. A fax machine hummed, but that was nothing new. Again I returned my desk, but soon heard more commotion at the end of the hallway, more rustling silk.
I had heard that other employees experienced weirdness in the building – door handles rattling, chairs moving – but this was the first time I believed someone – or something – was in the building with me. That was it. The unexplained noises got the best of me. My projects could wait until morning. It was time for me to leave.
Several days later a few of us were talking about the strange things that people reportedly have experienced while alone in the building, and I started to recall several other instances that before now I hadn’t really paid much attention to.
Another time, again after hours, while I was in the restroom before leaving for the evening I heard the outside door near the restrooms open and close. When I came out I called to see who had entered the building. The door was locked, so whoever came in must have had a key. No one answered, and so I walked back to the studios. No one was there. I was alone.
On several other occasions after hours while at my desk I’ve heard doorknobs rattle, and quite frequently have heard the distinct sound of keyboards tapping when no one was at the desks.
Is the radio building haunted? I’m not going to say, but what I do know is that on several occasions while alone in the building I’ve heard distinct noises that I thought only a person could make, but upon investigating the sounds found that no living person had made them.
One explanation: There is a cardboard cutout of Darth Vader in the building. I have my suspicions that perhaps he is making the noises.
Welcome to radio.