Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

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Where Spirits Congregate

The Lewiston Civic Theatre
The Lewiston Civic Theatre

The Lewiston Civic Theatre, at 805 Sixth Avenue in Lewiston, Idaho, is housed in the historic Bollinger Performing Arts Center, named for the famous opera singer, Anne Bollinger.  A native of Lewiston, she gained an international reputation.  The theater has been in this gothic stone structure for over thirty years, and once shared the building with a church.  That didn't protect it from a killer.

In 1982, about ten years after the theater moved into the building, two girls were murdered there.  The murder went unsolved, and as with many such incidents where closure proves elusive, the spirits of the dead appear to dwell in the place.

Some say that on some nights one can see the youngest of the victims climb the stairs.  One or the other might also show a mischievous side.  They don't seem to be seeking their killer or even trying to get attention to their unsolved murders.  Instead, they merely show up from time to time, perhaps a reminder of who they once were.

In addition to them, the apparition of a jilted bride has been spotted walking between the rows of seats, and as with most haunted theaters, there's always someone who just loves the theater who seems to linger after death to watch the shows. Some people believe it's the spirit of a former director.

One Web site indicates that some 70 spirits — all allegedly harmless - haunt the place, and peculiar incidents occur, such as a trap door that opens and closes without assistance from human hands, lights that go on and off when no one's there, and candles that flicker out on their own.  Even the chandelier gets into the act with an independent spin or two.

Susan Engle wrote about the place while on a quest to experience a ghost.  She claims that after six years of dogged ghost hunting, she has failed to track one down.  One night, she and her cohorts even spent the night in the Lewiston Civic Theatre.

"It was creepy and fun all at once," she says, "skulking around in the nether reaches of the old building and poking about in places not normally open to the public. Was it haunted?  Not that I could tell. I never saw a ghost, heard disembodied whispers, or even felt a chilly frisson of dread and unease creep up my spine."

Nevertheless, murders usually evolve into reputed hauntings, and in one house in England, so many murders occurred that spirit activity seemed inevitable — even if only the killer saw them.

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