I am a Tombstone Tourist: someone who loves to wander cemeteries. I find it akin to visiting a museum: an opportunity to enjoy rarely seen sculpture, intricate carvings, and amazing architecture, all in a tranquil outdoor setting. This blog is about cemetery culture, art, history, issues of death, and genealogy - subjects of current relevance. I usually find something that intrigues me and makes me want to dig deeper. Care to join me? Read on...
Friday, October 12, 2018
The Haunted Landmark Theatre - New York
Theatres are the homes of stories acted
out with all the emotion, rivalry, and angst of real life events. Actors are
known to be temperamental, and accidents, suicides, and murders are high on the
list for providing theatres with their resident ghosts. Whether a grand dame in New
York, a small community theatre in the Midwest, or a tiny Black Box theatre out
West, there’s more spirit on the stage than you might think. In fact, many
ghost actors refuse to take that final curtain call, preferring instead to tread
the boards for eternity. In Syracuse New York,
the Landmark Theatre is one such
The hauntings began two years after
Loew’s State Theatre opened in 1928 in Syracuse, New York. Built by Marcus Loew,
the gilded movie palace held over 3,000 seats and showed silent films and
“talkies.” For silent movies, the majestic Wurlitzer organ provided music and
numerous sound effects. With 1,400 pipes, the theatre would come to life with
music, birdsong, hoof beats and animal sounds. A Tiffany chandelier graced the lobby,
and the grand staircase led to the Promenade Balcony where a fishpond with a
Chinese pagoda fountain could be found.
The theatre continued through the
Great Depression and into World War Two showing newsreels of battles and air
wars, and popular Hollywood war films starring Clark Gable and John Wayne. But
by the 1970s, it had fallen on hard times. The organ and the
chandelier had been sold, and vandals had destroyed the rich fabrics, gilded
walls and stories-high murals. The theatre seemed doomed to the wrecking ball.
But thanks to some sharp thinking citizens, the Loew State Theatre building was
listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976, saving the grand
dame from demolition.
Today there are three ghosts said to
haunt the Landmark Theatre. The most “friendly” is Clarissa, an actress who
fell from the balcony. The scent of lilacs, her favorite flower, trails her as she meanders across the stage. But
she has no tolerance for smokers. Light up a cigarette and Clarissa may appear
to remind you to douse the “coffin nail.” Clarissa is seen
as a wispy white figure who floats through the building. Ghost hunters have
captured a woman’s voice saying, “I fell off.” Could it be Clarissa explaining
what happened to her that fateful night in 1930?
A stagehand known as Oscar also
keeps watch over the theatre. Oscar was electrocuted one night while working on the
lighting board. Today he is known to flip the lights on and off when he’s restless. Oscar
can provide a shocking experience if sighted still puttering around with the
current theatre’s lighting board.
Then there’s Charlie the janitor who
lived in the theatre basement as a caretaker during the 1970s. Charlie died of natural
causes downstairs but he still takes his job seriously. Piles
of dirt and debris are moved around the theatre as Charlie continues
to clean up.
In 2011, the Landmark Theatre held a
grand opening after a 16-million dollar renovation. The theatre now holds
haunted tours to showcase their resident spirits. These annual fundraisers are
held in October with the assistance of the Central New York Ghost Hunters.
Today, the Landmark is home to
Broadway musicals, stage plays and private events. And also to an actress, stagehand
and janitor who still believe that "the show must go on."
362 South Salina Street
Syracuse, New York