The Most Haunted Opera Houses in America

Inspired by Portals to Hell's investigation into Twin City Opera House, we're pulling back the curtain on the most haunted opera houses in America.

In the new episode of Portals to Hell, Jack Osbourne and Katrina Weidman investigate the notoriously haunted Twin City Opera House. In an otherwise charming small Ohio community, the opera house is home to numerous spirits that refuse to move on. In the episode, Jack and Katrina discover that the forces haunting the Twin City Opera House are some of the strongest they’ve yet to encounter, and might even be demonic in nature.

But the Twin City isn’t the only opera house in America to have its resident ghosts. With the intense passion, devotion, and sometimes pain that comes with art, opera houses are a hotbed for paranormal activity. Whether it be from scorned actresses, envious fans, or foul play behind the curtains, here are some of America’s most haunted opera houses.

Hosts Jack Osbourne and Katrina Weidman posing in front of the entrance to Twin City Opera House in Ohio. As seen on Travel Channel's Portals To Hell.

WOODSTOCK OPERA HOUSE

Woodstock, Illinois

The Woodstock Opera House has a very active ghost named Elvira. Legend has it that Elvira was a beautiful young ballet dancer who was certain she would be the lead in the theater’s next production. Devastated that she didn’t get the part, she climbed the opera houses’ bell tower and jumped.

Now, Elvira remains within the opera house, and even has a favorite spot to view performances – Seat 113 in the center of the Balcony. Guests regularly see this spring-loaded seat open on its own, and when actresses miss their mark or sing out of key, loud sighs of exasperation can be heard from the balcony where Elvira sits. More terrifying yet, during auditions, the stairway to the clocktower is watched closely as many actresses fall into a trance and begin climbing the stairs. To date, numerous performers have had to be pulled down from the staircase.

SPRINGER OPERA HOUSE

Columbus, Georgia

Hauntings are a regular happening at the Springer Opera House, but the most terrifying story comes from actress Jenny Marshal who was performing the role of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. Marshal states that one day in her dressing room, she was looking at the gifts she had received – flowers, cards from fans, and even collectable figurines of all The Wizard of Oz characters – when suddenly, she was struck with a consuming sense of fear. The air grew cold and thick. The lights flickered, then the room went dark. Marshal sat paralyzed in fear. The lights flickered back on, and as she looked at her make-up table, all The Wizard of Oz characters had been knocked down, except one…The Wicked Witch of the West.

BRISTOL OPERA HOUSE

Bristol, Indiana

Indiana’s Bristol Opera House is home to three very distinct spirits that are seen regularly by both staff and patrons alike. The first is Beth. Beth is the spirit of a young girl who can be seen peeking out at rehearsing actors from the wings of the stage. The second is Helen. Helen is beloved by the theater and is said to be a protector, ensuring that things don’t get out of control when the third ghost, Percival, throws one of his infamous tantrums.

After a tragic fire took his home, the opera house took in Percival and allowed him to live in the building as well as become the in-house handyman. From then until the end of his life, Percival was attached to the theater. Now, his spirit has refused to leave and is quite the troublemaker. Female actresses regularly see glimpses of him in their dressing room mirrors, tools and props vanish mid-performance, and he even pulls actors backwards as they’re about to make their stage entrances. For some shows, the poltergeist is so severe that the theater owner has to stop actors from packing their bags and leaving right before the curtain is set to open.

AMATO OPERA HOUSE

New York, New York

While documenting the renovation of New York’s historic Amato Opera House in the city’s Bowery District, a reporter unexpectedly got more than she bargained for. During her time exploring the dust-covered rooms, she came across old props, instruments from the theater’s prime years, and remnants of old costumes. Suddenly, she heard a note play on a nearby piano. She glanced over and saw nothing but a dusty old piano. Then, an entire chord played, followed by a full B-scale. Startled, she ran upstairs in fear, only to hear the piano begin to play again. At that point, she decided it was time to make her escape. When she came back downstairs, props and costumes had been moved by an unknown presence. For years during the renovation process, the theater’s owner couldn’t find a single tenant who wanted to occupy the building, all of whom said they felt scared just from stepping inside.

ARCADIA OPERA HOUSE

Arcadia, Florida

The Arcadia Opera House has a very morbid history. The theater itself was built on the site of an orphanage that burnt down in the early 1900’s. The original owner of the opera house was having an affair, and one day his lover confronted him with a choice – me or you wife. After choosing his wife, the scorned lover hung herself from the rafters of the stage. A few years later, a little girl fell from one of the windows of the upper floors.

Now, these spirits remain and haunt every corner of this storied opera house. A little girl is regularly seen looking out the windows of theater’s top floor. Footsteps of children are heard throughout entire building, and the scorned lover’s spirit is seen roaming the halls of the auditorium. The theater’s own employees have even told stories of wine bottles flying off shelves and mysterious noises coming from seemingly nowhere. The Arcadia Opera House has been the site of numerous paranormal investigations, and is considered by many to be the most haunted location in all of Florida.

GRANBURY OPERA HOUSE

Granbury, Texas

Granbury, Texas is said to be home to numerous spirits – including Jesse James and Billy the Kid, begging the question of whether Granbury itself could be a portal to the unknown. The most legendary of the town’s hauntings is that of none other than John Wilkes Booth. It’s claimed that Booth escaped the east coast after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, created an alias known as ‘John St. Helen’, and fled to Granbury, Texas. There, Booth was a bartender, and true to his past as a Shakespearian actor, took part in many performances at the Granbury Opera House. At one point, Booth became seriously ill and confessed on his deathbed to being the infamous assassin. However, he unexpectedly recovered from his illness and was forced to flee the town in fear of being caught.

Now, actors and crewmembers at the opera house see a man dressed in black, passionately reciting Shakespeare on stage…even in the dead of night. After the man’s performance, he vanishes. Some witnesses who claim to have seen the ghostly figure were then shown a picture of John Wilkes Booth, to which they say has a spitting resemblance to the actor they saw on stage. It seems as though this is a true phantom of the opera.

For more haunted opera houses, don’t forget to the tune in to Portals to Hell this Friday at 10|9c to see what’s lurking backstage of Ohio’s Twin City Opera House.

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