Ghostly Voices, Glasses Falling, An Eerie Performance: Three Local Spine-tingling Stories
“Did you feel that?” she asked. “It’s cold.” Queue the spooky music, enter the ghost.
It’s how every ghost scene starts. But the reality is you’ll be lucky to find a ghost or even have an experience, and there’s generally a plausible reason soon to be discovered why the lights are flickering. But in some places the unexplained is just normal.
Every place has a history, but some places have more than your normal history, they have paranormal history.
Meyer Theatre, Green Bay
The Meyer Theatre, as it’s currently known, has been a downtown Green Bay staple since 1930. Originally opened as The FOX Theatre, it closed in 1932 as a result of the Great Depression. The theatre was sold and renamed Bay Theatre.
In 1978 the theatre was sold to Standard Theatres and made into a triplex movie theatre. In 1998, rather than letting the building be torn down, a group of business leaders raised money to renovate the building through notable gifts. The not-for-profit Robert T. Meyer Theatre opened its doors on February 27, 2002. This building has a rich history of performance, and ghostly legends.
In 2004, Matt Goebel became the General Manager of the theatre, and has held the position for the last 18 years. In this time, he and his technical staff have had some “experiences.” However, his most memorable experience was hearing a voice clear as day, while being totally alone in the venue.
“It was mid morning, and I had to get something downstairs at the front doors of the Meyer. I walked down into the theatre, down the right aisle. As I’m midway down, I hear a woman’s voice talk to me. It said, ‘Forgive me for what I’ve done.’ I stopped in my tracks and I’m looking around, I know I’m there by myself. I looked around, we had an event the night before, so I thought, is there some lady stuck under the seat or something? I could not find anything, and the voice was clear as day.”
Goebel was spooked to say the least. After further investigation, he found out there was a theatre manager who had an affair with an employee. The woman’s husband came to the theatre and held the manager at gunpoint in the basement.
Goebel continues, “So I’m just putting two and two together that maybe this woman’s soul was stuck here and she was asking me, since I’m the current theatre manager, to forgive her for what she did a long time ago. I did say ‘I forgive you’ to her. And I haven’t heard from her since.” Goebel says none of the experiences have been bad, more “Casper the Friendly Ghost” types.
“I was a skeptic before I started here,” he says. “I believe there’s something. I don’t know if I’m a full-blown believer in supernatural and stuff being haunted, but I definitely think there’s something here.”
Stone Arch Brewpub, Appleton
The building housing Stone Arch Brewpub dates back to 1858 as the first brewery in Outagamie County. In 1860 the brewery was sold, and the addition of a “Beer Garden” was added, the first of its kind in Wisconsin. From 1918-1974 the brewery was operated by Walter Brewery Company with the area’s most popular brew being Adler Brau.
In 1989 Adler Brau was reintroduced as a Adler Brau Brewery and Restaurant until 2004 when father and son partners Tom and Steve Lonsway took over and rebranded as Stone Cellar Brewpub, rebranding to Stone Arch Brewpub in 2017.
This month, October 2022, they celebrate their 18th anniversary as a company. This building certainly has a history with beer and spirits—albeit not the alcohol kind.
When owner Steve Lonsway purchased the building he had no idea about the hauntings. When he took over, the stories started coming out of the woodwork.
“I remember the very first time I was in the building, I was the only one in there on a Sunday,” Lonsway recalls. “This is real early in our time. I walked down this hallway that had literally nothing in it. There was the sound of a bucket that had dropped right next to me, and there was no bucket anywhere around.”
The craziest experience included his wife, Lonsway says.
“It was late at night. We were closing the bar down. We had two glasses on the bar that we both witnessed get slid toward the back of the bar, and put on top of the dishwasher. Nothing was running that could have had it vibrate. One of the beers was half full of stuff. I mean, they literally got picked up and brought over about one foot and then down about six inches on top of the dishwasher. That was the freakiest.”
Lonsway admits he wasn’t a big believer at first, but in his time at Stone Arch Brewpub, he knows there’s something supernatural about the building.
The Grand Opera House, Oshkosh
At 139 years old, The Grand Oshkosh is the oldest operating theatre in the state. Originally opened on August 9, 1883 its history is long, complete with name changes, different owners and a 20-year battle titled “Save the Grand,” with a second restoration “Stand with the Grand” happening in 2009.
This building is on both state and national historic registers, ensuring a certain fate for the building’s history and ghosts living on in infamy.
Molly Templin, Community Relations Manager, has not witnessed anything too out of the ordinary for such an old building, but she has a few stories to share:
One of the bigger stories involves a lady in a Victorian outfit who is seen on the balcony. She is waiting for the show to start. It is said that she missed the opening night of a production and she’s just sitting there waiting. Guests have noticed the woman before, in such detail that they can describe the dress she’s wearing.
There’s also said to be a boy in what used to be the coal room. He’s known to cause some commotion down there. You’ll hear a laugh, and there’ve been cases where people have been tricked by him or even grabbed by him lightly. People say it feels like a little boy.
The most common and most well-known story is of the basement dressing rooms.
“It was to the point where we had a Native American dance troupe who wouldn’t even enter it to get ready,” Templin explains. “We also had a medicine man come there, and he swore that while he was doing a tour, he saw many spirits. Afterward, they asked why he wasn’t paying attention. His response was, ‘Well, did you see all the people staring at you in the mirrors?’”
When asked if she believes in spirits, Templin says, “I’m definitely not a skeptic. I’m a believer to the point where I definitely respect it. I am not looking for things to happen. But I definitely respect the boundaries.”
Because they are one of the most haunted theatres in the state, The Grand is embracing this by having ghost tours throughout October. Unlike the Spirits of the Grand tour, these will not have actors and will focus on the stories and the history. Find more information about tickets and dates on their website.
While you could have “experiences” at one of these local historic places, it’s important to remember the spirits are not there to hurt you. Most importantly, always respect both the potential spirits and the property. Talk to the staff to inquire about tours of the space.
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