The OES visited Majestic Theatre, also spelled Majestic Theater, on August 11, 2006. Located along Second Street in Chillicothe, the Majestic Theatre in its current form opened its doors in 1876 as the Masonic Opera House. Originally named Masonic Hall in 1853, the building at that time was a two story brick building with a dance hall, theatre, and lodge room. As the building became more popular with stock companies as a place to entertain, the Masons decided to expand the hall, making many improvements and upgrades for the time. Once the renovations were complete, many people considered the theatre one of the finest theatres in the State of Ohio.
The theatre offered various acts including comedy, drama, minstrel shows and operas. AR Wolf bought the Masonic Opera House from the Masons in 1904 when the Masons decided to build a new facility on Main Street. Once again, the theatre was remodeled, the stage was enlarged, and windows were replaced. In 1907, AR Wolf purchased and installed the arch that spans Second Street and is believed to be the last surviving arch that once spanned across High Street in Columbus. Just eight years later, in 1915, the theatre was sold again to the Myers Brothers. They made some improvements, installed a movie screen and equipment, and renamed the building Majestic Theatre. Although the theatre still showed the occasional live show, most of the shows were exclusively motion pictures. Some of the more recognizable names to pass through the Majestic over the years include Milton Berle, Laurel & Hardy, George Arliss, Sophie Tucker, Eddie Foy, and George M. Cohan.
However, the most intriguing fact in the Majestic's history was its use as a temporary morgue in 1918. The Spanish Influenza swept through the nation and struck nearby Camp Sherman particularly hard. Around 1,400 cases of the flu were reported in September, but it only got worse with 5,600 cases reported by October. The town of Chillicothe was quarantined in an attempt to prevent the spread of the flu to the local population. The quarantine was not totally effective and many people outside of Camp Sherman were infected and died. In all, almost 1,200 people from the Camp succumbed to the epidemic. With more bodies than the morgue could handle, the Majestic Theatre was used as a temporary morgue. The bodies were stacked like cordwood in the dressing rooms below the stage until they could be taken to the stage for embalming. Every now and again one of the "bodies" would be found to be alive and taken off to the hospital. Once the bodies made their way to the stage, the blood and other bodily fluids were drained to Masonic Alley next to the theatre, earning it the nickname that has stuck to this day, Bloody Alley.
The theatre transferred hands again in 1971 when Harley and Evelyn Bennett purchased it. They carefully restored the theatre and helped preserve the old Masonic Opera House. The latest transfer of the theatre was to Robert Althoff, Robert Evans and David Uhrig, who bought the theatre as a non-profit organization in 1990. They installed new wiring and a new fire safety / security system and are continuing their preservation efforts. The OES had visited the outside area around the Majestic Theatre, including Bloody Alley, on July 25, 2001 and on April 30, 2006, but were not able to actually enter the theatre until August 11, 2006 when we were invited to conduct a paranormal investigation. There were several strange events that occurred during the course of the investigation, including some Electronic Voice Phenomenon recordings. For a complete review of our investigation, Click Here.