The best stop on the Chillicothe Ghost Walk is always the Majestic Theater, a nineteenth century Masonic opera house in the historic downtown.
Practically speaking, these folks are the best in town at storytelling. They are entertainers who don costumes to tell scripted stories about what is likely the most documented haunted building around.
There are tons of stories including an encounter with a mid century theater usher who silently helped a woman to her seat in the early nineties. He wore an ornate uniform, complete with a fez hat and seemed surprised the theater goer could see him when she requested help to her seat. He disappeared and no one else saw him before he vanished. There’s a janitor who still cleans the floors and a diva who still occupies a dressing room beneath the stage.
A gentleman in a top hat was a curiosity for many years. He walks the middle aisle but appears to float as he approaches the stage. His feet are still moving like he’s walking but he hovers above the floor. They learned during a twentieth century renovation that the sloped floor wasn’t always sloped. It was originally flat. Mr Top Hat is walking on the original flat theater floor, the one he likely knew in life.
The most compelling stories come from World War I when the Spanish Influenza came to town. Camp Sherman, a local military training camp, was struck particularity hard. Thousands of cases left about 1,200 dead at Camp Sherman alone.
The city was quarantined and their beloved theater was transformed into a makeshift morgue. Bodies were stacked like lumber in the basement while the stage was used for embalming. Blood and other bodily fluids were drained into an alley just off the stage door, causing the alley to be named “Blood Alley.”
People still use that term today.
Meanwhile, someone would occasionally find that one of those bodies stacked to the ceiling in the downstairs dressing rooms was indeed alive. The spirit of one such individual is said to haunt a specific space in the basement. His spirit is so angry that this area is actually kept locked to prevent lookie loos from stumbling into trouble.
Here’s the door and the bricks of blood alley.
I will be completely honest with you. There is a place in that basement that I find too disturbing for words. But the best of this tour isn’t the ghost stories. It’s the access to the upstairs! You see, there’s a third floor ballroom with old signs, a few artifacts and some magnificent murals.
Hello. My name is Brandi and I am a nerd. Who cares about ghost stories when you have patina and light to admire?
This is one of my favorite images. Tbey have two of these old signs upstairs.
Never let anyone tell you Ohio wasn’t a bad place for people of color. These benches were used as seats during segregation.
Here are two of those murals. They were covered up for many years and forgotten by time until someone pulled back the paper to discover a beautiful face staring back at them.
The Majestic Theater is now operated by a nonprofit organization that has been hard at work making much needed updates. They still host events including concerts and classic movies. Just prior to the pandemic, I saw Pretty Woman and Snow White on the big screen. That was great fun. Find more info here.
Go see a show sometime and look for the man with the top hat or maybe the janitor mopping the restroom floors. By the way, they’ve identified that gentleman as someone who was a caretaker for the theater many years ago. A fellow who saw his spirit found him in an old picture at the theater.
Oh, and make sure your phone is fully charged. Something in that building sucked my battery down from 89 percent to nineteen in under 45 minutes. I was taking some photos but the phone was on airplane mode to preserve the battery life and I couldn’t justify the loss.
Whether or not you go for a show, take a stroll through their downtown which is currently experiencing an impressive rebirth and look for the theater. Read about my other ghost tour experiences at the old jail and at the Masonic Lodge. I’ll tell you about my experience at the fourth and final ghost tour location very soon.