This Kentucky Theatre is Most Definitely Haunted!
Theatre Workshop of Owensboro is celebrating 60 years of community theatre with its upcoming season. As the "longest-running show in town," audiences have enjoyed hundreds of shows and events produced by local volunteers. These folks play roles both on the stage and behind the scenes dedicating their precious time and energy for weeks to prepare a play.
Also a part of the process are some invisible "helpers"...energies that have nothing but... time. You won't find their names in the programs, but there are documented accounts in recent history of their suspicious activities. I have even experienced something at T.W.O. that while totally harmless, remains unexplained to this day.
T.W.O. has two venues with long interesting histories, The Empress Theatre on Frederica St. and The Trinity Centre around the corner on 5th Street. According to their website, "Trinity Centre is registered as an historic landmark. Built in 1875, it is the oldest example of Gothic architecture in Western Kentucky. As well, it is the oldest brick church building in Owensboro." It is also reportedly the most haunted place in town.
Theatre Workshop of Owensboro Creepy Basement
As soon as you enter Trinity Centre, you will see a small door to your left. This is where many props and some small set pieces are stored, but I do NOT like going down there. It is the epitome of a scary basement. With exposed original brick, cobwebs galore, and this creepy babydoll someone so kindly propped up where you narrowly miss hitting your head. I only risk my life on the descent if I can't sweet talk someone else into searching for a necessary prop.
The Ghost of the Green Room
I have heard Executive Director, Todd Reynolds tell this story many, many times. After rehearsal one night, some cast mates decided to stick around, chat, and play card games in the Green Room. That is where the actors and crew hang out when they aren't on stage. At the Trinity Centre Theatre on 5th Street, this sacred space is in the back of the church where the dressing rooms are also located.
While this is a current picture, it has always looked pretty similar to this with seating and tables. Opposite this corner of the room is a door to the outside patio area and right next to it is a door to the back basement. Well, all of a sudden, the door to the outside swings open and then closes. The folks playing cards assumed it was a draft or something even though that door is VERY heavy. UNTIL! The door to the basement also opened and then closed. From what I remember, everyone was a little unsettled, of course, but continued with the card game.
After some time, the basement door opens and closes, and then the outside door does the same. Shivers raced through the room as they realized they had experienced a paranormal event. It seemed as though an invisible person or spirit had come in and gone back out.
This legend is known by almost all T.W.O. volunteers, but even though I had spent countless hours in Trinity Centre as a child and teen, I had not encountered anything unusual until 2012.
Do Ghosts Wash Their Hands?
I was there alone late at night painting a set on the stage when I heard water running in the back of the theatre. I was worried a pipe had burst or something, so I went to investigate. Checking the public restrooms in the hallway and finding nothing, I ventured back to the Green Room. The sink there in the kitchenette was bone dry. I got nervous as I then walked back into the ladies' dressing room.
There is a little bathroom back there for actors to use. Sure enough, when I opened the door the water was on FULL BLAST. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up and my eyes even teared up. I was frozen trying to decide whether to turn off the water or run!
After taking a deep breath, I reminded myself of all of the time spent there without ever feeling anything remotely spooky or evil. It has always been a space that has felt like a home away from home for me. If this was the result of something otherworldly, it obviously wasn't aggressive. Maybe they just wanted to practice good hygiene? Or maybe it wanted to say "hello."
Theatre Workshop of Owensboro Trinity Centre's Tragic History
There is a pretty tragic story that would explain spirits lingering in that space. It involves the teenage daughter of an episcopalian priest from the church that originated there in 1875. She was found dead, hanging in the bell tower (where the octagon is,) and he was found dead by an apparent gunshot wound in the basement after an alleged series of unfortunate events.
When it was first told to me back in 2003, folks apparently still randomly heard the bell ringing in the tower even though it was removed long before Theatre Workshop was established.
It is tradition when leaving the theatre to turn off all of the lights except one. You are supposed to leave a "ghost light" on for any roaming spirits to be able to find their way. T.W.O. better stay stocked with bulbs is all I gotta say!
Have you ever encountered an unexplained or paranormal event in the tri-state? I would love to hear your ghost stories!
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