LORAIN — Many of those who work at the Lorain Palace Theatre agree that there is just something “creepy” about the old theater.
“Every time I’m alone, I feel like there’s something around me,” said Devon Taylor, who has been working at the theater for almost two years.
The ushers spoke excitedly to one another about the ghost-hunting group from Clyde, which set up shop at the Palace on Friday night.
The group, called Ohio Researchers of Banded Spirits, scanned the theater Friday night, looking for evidence of a possible haunting.
The group tried to gather evidence by using video cameras with night vision, voice recorders and the Ovilus X, a device that transfers “environmental energy” into numbers that are decoded into words.
Chris Page, a co-founder of the group, said ghosts use the Ovilus to speak to them, and one possible “ghostly presence” reached out to the group Friday night.
“Is there a message you want to give to our guests?” the ghost hunters asked, while pointing the equipment in the air.
“Away,” a garbled robotic voice said shortly after.
The hunters asked a few more questions with no response, and then numerous words — “ring, cycle, messenger, Edison, telepath” — were said by the machine.
Finally, the “ghost” said, “Beware.”
“That’s kind of menacing,” Page said, looking at his electromagnetic radiation detector, which detected radiation of “15,” well above the “normal room” reading of 8 to 10.
“Anything above that is when you feel you’re being watched,” Page said.
Gary Fischer, president of the board of the Lorain Palace, isn’t spooked yet, however, commenting that if there was a ghost in the theater, it wasn’t malevolent.
“We don’t have a Phantom of the Opera here. At least, we don’t think so,” he said, laughing.
Fischer called the ghost-hunting group after a graduation party at the theater reported a mysterious image in many of their pictures.
“They had said, ‘Hey, we have these pictures. Was there a little old man with a handlebar mustache that ever worked at the Palace? Because he’s in all of our photos and he isn’t part of our group,’ ” he said. “And you can see through him.”
There have been other incidents, Fischer said, like weird noises that can’t be explained and door knobs that turn by themselves.
With Halloween quickly approaching, Fischer decided to employ the efforts of the ghost-hunting group to prove the existence of the spirit. After all, a reported ghostly encounter could be big for business.
The Lorain Palace has a long history, making it a prime spot for ghost hunters like the Ohio Researchers of Banded Spirits.
The Palace was built in 1928 after a tornado wiped out much of the downtown area. Fischer said the theater is considered the largest single-floor theater in the state of Ohio and was the first Ohio theater to show “talking” movies.
Many live entertainers, like W.C. Fields, performed on the stage. It was also believed that Perry Como got his start at the Lorain Palace, Fischer said.
The ghost-hunting crew said historical sites such as the Lorain Palace are often more likely to have paranormal activity. They would know — they’ve already been featured in programs like the Animal Planet’s “The Haunted” series, Biography Channel’s “My Ghost Story” and will be on the History Channel’s “Fear Files” this fall for their work studying the spirit world.
The group was founded by co-workers Chris Page and Amy Cobb, who work together at a post office. Cobb said she became interested in proving the existence of ghosts after experiences with her grandson, who was 2 years old at the time.
“He was telling us stories about playing with a little boy there and having red on his face. He told us his full name. ... He’d also tell us there was monsters in the corner of the bathroom. He would always point to the same corner,” she said. “He would never sleep in his room. He would scream if he would have to.”
Cobb said after others heard voices in the home, and after electronic toys would start by themselves, she decided to get a group together to study the phenomenon.
Karlo Zuzic and Liz Hedden joined the group later. Both said they were interested in proving the existence of ghosts, which Page said many people express skepticism over.
“You’re either a true believer or you’re a true skeptic,” Page said. “We’ve come across both aspects, and the skeptics can be downright nasty.”
Page said many skeptics have experienced some kind of strange phenomenon, however.
“Eighty percent of what we do is residential — helping families. But we like doing the historical like this because it brings out the paranormal awareness to the community, and lets them know that what you’re experiencing is OK, because there are people out there to help you,” he said.
Cobb added that most of the time, the group has evidence of a haunt.
Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or firstname.lastname@example.org.