SPRINGFIELD GHOST SOCIETY
June 11, 2016
I was invited by Carl Jones, the teacher of Ghost Hunting 201 at Lincoln Land Community College, to join them on the class trip. They were going to do an investigation at the Lincoln Theater in Decatur, IL, a known haunted place.
When we arrived at the Lincoln Theater we were met by Adam White, President of the Board of Directors. He told us the history of the theater plus the haunted history. After that we were turned loose to conduct our own investigation.
*The Lincoln Theater located on North Main Street in downstate Decatur, Illinois is one of the most haunted theaters in the country. The theater was built in 1916 by Clarence Wait on the exact same site of a tragic fire in 1915 which destroyed the Decatur Hotel killing an unknown amount of people inside. It opened for its first performance on October 27, 1916 and had seating for over 1200 people. The first performance was a comedy entitled Hit The Trail Holliday by George M. Cohan. It was opened as the Lincoln Square Theater but later was simply called the Lincoln. When crowds began to dwindle, the theater closed up for a time and today through the help of restoration, is again open to the public and ghost hunters alike.
Some of the many actors that graced its stage include Ethel Barrymore, Jeanette MacDonald, Tallulah Bankhead, Al Jolson and Bob Hope. Harry Houdini even performed on stage and used a trapdoor that can still be seen today to make one of his fantastic disappearances. There are many alleged ghosts associated with the theater including one seen and encountered around the stage called "One-Armed Red". Nobody recalls his real name but "Red" was apparently a stage hand back when vaudeville graced the stage. One night, he was working high above the stage in the metal grid work when he slipped and fell. He fell but tried to catch himself from hitting the stage, many feet below, by reaching out to stop his plummet but his arm became snagged between two beams and his arm was torn from his shoulder. He was allegedly found dead the next day.
Recently some members of the board have tried to find evidence of this accident of Reds. The only thing close they found out that Red’s son had an accident and lost an arm. They are thinking possibly somehow throughout the years the stories have been twisted together.
Throughout the years many people have heard eerie sounds and footsteps inside a vacant theater. Reports of whispering and voices have also been heard as well as a strange figure seen in the balcony from time to time.
Other reports include sounds of footsteps climbing up the spiral staircase in the back of the stage.
Anne Thompson, past President of the Board of Directors has recently passed away. Since then other weird things have happened to make people wonder if she is still there also. One thing is messing with some people with a locked office door. Apparently it’s never locked but that day when Adam came to work with his two children they couldn't’t get the door open. He called different people to see if he could get a key. Then his small daughter called to him and said the door was open. It just magically unlocked. Other small things have happened also.
It was easy to become overwhelmed by the largeness and beauty of this fine old theater. It definitely has its own atmosphere and it’s easy to become consumed in the heaviness of the history left behind.
During the investigation I took hundreds of pictures and hours of audio. I did not personally experience much while I was there. One place, as we did our walk through, did give me the heebie-jeebies, the hallway right outside the dressing room under the stage.
When we left at 4:00pm I wondered if I received any evidence because there didn't’t seem to be much activity going on.
Going through my digital pictures I noticed a few pictures in question. I have submitted these pictures to Carl and to Adam for their opinions. One of the pictures show what looks like people sitting in the auditorium chairs. The picture is blurry due to the setting I was using but it still looks like heads with hair popping up from the chairs. Another picture shows a dark figure in the balcony. It resembles a lady with either a veil or carrying parasol. It’s all black and looks out of place. Another picture shows a person in the balcony wearing a long dress like she's cleaning. I also got a few weird orbs on the stage. vid1, vid2 Usually don't pay much attention but these seemed to have a purpose and know where they were going. I am still listening to the audio. So far I have nothing but I still have plenty to go so let’s hope I have some voices.
Springfield Ghost Society
*Some of the history information was retrieved from GhostResearch.org.