places/travel 14 Terrifying Haunted Theaters Across America  

Jacob Shelton
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Is there anything more fun than a haunted theater? You can’t think of anything can you? Maybe a chimpanzee on a skateboard, but that's a tie at best. Haunted theaters and theater ghost stories are some of the coolest things you can come across when you’re on a ghost hunting trip through the good ol’ U.S. of A.

Theater ghosts tend to be manifestations of people that once worked at the theater they’re now haunting; actors and stage hands alike have been known to float through theater, decades after the drew their last breath, and spook everybody out. Theater ghosts are the best. Even if you’re a skeptic you have to admit that there’s something ominous about being all alone in a theater when the lights go down.

If you were a theater kid in high school then you’ll be all too familiar with plenty of these urban legends of hanging stage hands, or ghostly theater guests who vanished mid performance. The spirits that haunt these eerie theaters either love being around show business or they can’t free themselves from this earthly plane, but either way they don’t seem to be angry about it. Never the less, there’s nothing more unsettling than walking through a pitch black theater and knowing that something is lurking in the shadows – even if it is just the ghost of a girl named Mary who only sits in seat C-5 and just sort of hangs out. Could you handle an evening in any of these haunted theaters? Or would you be calling for the Ghostbusters by the end of the first act?

The Granbury Opera House


The Granbury Opera House is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 14 Terrifying Haunted Theaters Across America
Photo:  QuesterMark

The ghosts at night are big and bright (clap clap clap clap) deep in the heart of Texas. If you're taking Highway 377 through the Lone Star state you'll find yourself in Grandbury, Texas, home of the famous Grandbury Opera House. The theater may have been staffed by one John Wilkes Booth while he was on the run for the minor crime of killing the President of the United States of America.

The story goes that after Booth had his leg fixed up while on the run he made his way to Grandbury, where he changed his name to John St. Helens (a fantastic fake name if ever there were one). According to local legend St. Helens spent a lot of time at the Opera House, and on his death bed he admitted to being the one and only John Wilkes Booth.

People say that they've run into a black clad thespian in the Opera House and that he can recite Shakespeare at the drop of a hat - even when there's nothing going on at the Opera House. Is the ghost of St. Helens/John Wilkes Booth? If you're ever in Grandbury and run into this spooky fellow make sure to ask him how he feels about tyrants and/or ostentatious fake names. 

The W.E. Scott Theater


The W.E. Scott Theater is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 14 Terrifying Haunted Theaters Across America
Photo:  Sherman Clarke

After you stop by the Stock Yards for some buckin' broncos and barbecue, take a trip to Fort Worth's own W.E. Scott Theater, a spot that's been known to host the manifestations of its founder, William Edrington Scott. Scott died of lung cancer before seeing his vision and future namesake brought to life.

Another entity that haunts the building is that of Kenneth Walker Yandle, an actor who was employed by the theater as a stage hand. Local reports say that Yandle committed suicide by hanging himself in the prop room of the theater in 1970, and that he's been heard laughing beneath the stage. It's good that he kept his sense of humor in the afterlife, at least. 

Cincinnati Music Hall


Cincinnati Music Hall is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 14 Terrifying Haunted Theaters Across America
Photo:  Michael Tyznik

For some reason Ohio is really, super haunted. Whether it's "the ridges," a haunted asylum turned art museum that's so spooky that two people have to open and close it every night, or the Cincinnati Music Hall, a theater that was built over a potter's field - a cemetery for the destitute, Ohio is bonkers haunted. 

And just in case you think that's an old wives' tale, in 1988, during the installation of an elevator shaft, bones of adults and children were exhumed from under the Music Hall. People have been seeing ghosts on the property since at least 1876. John Engst, a night watchman for the Music Hall, has had plenty of run-ins with the paranormal while working there, but the strangest occurrence happened when he began hearing music playing after everyone had left.

He told the Society for the Preservation of Music Hall: "I reentered the elevator and closed the doors. The music was still there and I'm starting to tingle now. I opened the rear of the elevator, entered the adjoining hall, no sound. Returning to the elevator to proceed to Corbett Tower and closed it up, the music was as beautiful as ever."

The Hollywood Pacific Theater


The Hollywood Pacific Theater is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 14 Terrifying Haunted Theaters Across America
Photo:  Truus, Bob & Jan

It goes without saying that Hollywood is one of the most haunted cities in America. Even the citizens who are still living tend to have a ghostly quality about them, so for something to be haunted in the City of Angels it needs to be pretty f*cking spooky.

The main manifestation that haunts the Pacific Theater is that of Sam Warner, one of the O.G. Warner Brothers who not only help construct the theater, but who also helped make Los Angeles the town it is today. Multiple guards who work at the Pacific have reported seeing Mr. Warner taking the elevator up to his office, and they say that during quiet hours of the night he can be heard shuffling his furniture around. That has to be super annoying for whoever works in that office now.