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The Empire Theatre

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Nancy Bradley: It’s a quiet walk down Main Street in Placerville, California for you now. The town is situated in the heart of the gold rush country, surrounded by trees and hills, and the traffic had stopped in this old section when the stores closed for the night. It would be easy to feel very alone, the streets are deserted. Things seem somehow eerie. A strange, swirling patch of cold wind passes you on an otherwise unseasonably warm night in November. And then the unexplained sounds of strange yet seemingly ancient voices attract you to a building that once was a theatre. You look up at the marquis that was the billboard announcing upcoming and now showing movies in the building. It is a brick and beautiful building but the theater is no more, the building now houses an antique store. The theater closed for the last time in April of 1997. It is dark! And yet the building seems somehow still enchanted, we know that in its theater days it clearly was. As an ex- professional dancer I fantasized how wonderful it would have been to buy the old building and open a performing arts studio there, but alas an antique store took over the spot. The question is; did they also inherit the ghosts?

Theatres are notorious for housing ghosts, especially back stage. Originally, this theatre was nothing more than a round tent where gold miners could entertain each other and remember their days of culture. They often performed plays, some of the gruff men playing women’s roles as women were few in the mining camps. In the late 1850s, a wood structure was erected to replace the tent. It burned to the ground in the mid-1920s, and the now standing theatre building was built over it in the early 1930s. The old wood structure may have burned down, but it did not take the theatre ghosts with it, rumors have it they remained to stake a claim among the living theatre enthusiasts. Perhaps (we at Gold Rush Ghosts International Paranormal Investigations) theorized, they are stubborn too, and even after the theatre closed they might have refused to leave.

For as long as I can remember, ghosts and spirits have been reported in the stage area of the building where it is believed a miner shot an opponent with a real pistol during one of the plays. No one seems to know if this was done intentionally or by mistake. Folks who have seen him say the poor bloke still stands on the stage with the bullet in his chest. He does not seem to bother anyone, though if his shooter was still around, we suspect he might change his mind. Another acclaimed haunting appears to have been accomplished by a spirit with a drinking problem. Known to be a caretaker to the property, those who have heard the rumor tell us he suffered a heart attack in the boiler room. One prankster a few years back laid a bottle of brandy in the spot where the man died, only to find it empty the following morning. Going back further into the history of the building, it is said that the finest talent of the 1800s performed here, including Lotta Crabtree.

In the 1960s, long-time resident Ron Williams and his brother secured a job of working after school cleaning the building. They soon learned that the spookiest place to go would be down the stairs. They would fight with each other as to who had to go down the stairs to do the chores in that part of the building. It was just too spooky down there. The kids in town all knew the building was haunted, and the Williams brothers had stories to tell of being followed, things falling or being thrown around them when they were alone in the building. They talked of seeing strange shadows! It was not uncommon up until the 1990s for people coming out of the theatre to talk of companions walking with them that disappeared in front of them. Guess ghosts like movies too.

When we explored the building in 1997 we did a complete ghost investigation. We were able to get EVP’s of spirits on the stage singing, others moving about. The meters at the stage area registered .02-7.0 EMF and a 15 degree difference in temperature.

As we approached the boiler area the meters were highly active and bouncing up and down with readings and the air was feeling thick. There was a smell of musty water in this area and our cameras caught significant orb activity. The other area of interest was the projection room upstairs. With all the electric in the room it made reading the EMF difficult as it would register with a steady reading. However the temperature variance of more than twenty degrees was fascinating. There was strong electrical smell in the room caused by the old arc light cameras that filled the room.

But you know, GOLD RUSH GHOSTS INTERNATIONAL PARANORMAL is not going to explore this further. We love the mystique. We venture that anyone wishing to explore to please ask the antique owners if you can do so.

Antiques, such as those now in the building, bring in their own spirit energy which is all about the sights and sounds of what has accumulated around them for all those years. It would be impossible for antiques not to be imprinted. The Phenomena is called ‘ghostly impressions’, and anyone such as myself who has any psychic energy often has a problem going into an antique store. Because every antique holds its own stagnant energy and impressions, it is easy to get dizzy or an upset stomach from the residual of so many antiques pulling you in so many different directions. It is my suggestion if you choose to purchase an antique that you ask to take the one piece that you are thinking about to the curb so that you can feel ITS energy all alone and not that which is all around it before making your decision. Another fact, wood holds the most energy of anything on the planet from a psychic perspective, although so many psychic types want to give you crystals and other stones. So, obviously if you want to be MORE psychic, keep a lot of wood furniture around you, but be selective as to which and what.

We leave it for you here. Yes, there could be something going on in the building. If it is, is it from the theatre days, or the antiques, or both? Have fun exploring!

Copyright@ 2009 NANCY BRADLEY


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