Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Soldier's Memorial Theater, Beckley



The Soldier's Memorial Theater was built around 1931-32. A celebration was held on November 15, 1931 to commemorate the laying of the cornerstone. There was a temporary floor set up that was holding some of the construction materials, and people climbed up on it to get a better view of the festivities. Right before the invocation was to be given by a local reverend, the temporary flooring gave out, causing those standing on it, plus heavy construction stones, to drop 12 feet down into the basement. At least six people were injured, three requiring hospitalization...but to my knowledge, no one died as a direct result from their injuries, although it kinda seems as if that were a bad omen.

The building officially was dedicated on Memorial Day of 1932. It has served as a temporary courthouse, county library, YMCA, and community center. It was closed in the 1970s, and reopened in 1993. Productions are still being held there as far as I've seen, but there are still some offices and such in the basement.

It's rumored that the building is located on or very close to a Civil War era graveyard, due to its proximity to the old Civil War Hospital in the area. Nearby MSU, formerly Beckley Junior High, and a radio station are also rumored to be haunted.

Some of the sightings at SMT include: 1. A man in his 60s wearing 1930s style clothing, seen throughout the building, including in the balcony, 2. children have been heard and seen playing inside the auditorium, and 3. a saxophone has been heard playing.

Transcription of the platform collapse, courtesy of the Herald Dispatch, 16 November 1931

4 comments:

  1. My dad used to play drums here up to 2:00 in the morning. He said he heard/saw/experienced::
    -kids playing and bouncing balls on the theater stage floor
    -The previous caretaker of the theater, who died, walking around
    -The piano playing notes. He heard noises upstairs when he was the only one there, and went to check them out. Going upstairs, he played a few notes on the piano. Coming back downstairs, the piano played the same exact notes - on its own. No one was there.
    -Someone wailing and banging on the pipes. He thinks it was a soldier getting his leg or arm cut off due to infection and wounds howling at the pain, because at the time they didn't have proper anesthesia and patients were awake during amputations.
    -While playing drums, he was right in the middle of an intense song when he felt a very heavy arm resting on his shoulder, then patting his back, then resting on his shoulder again, possibly a drummer boy in the army.
    -The caretaker's wife sitting in the balcony and watching the empty stage.

    And I'm pretty sure he experienced a few other things, but I can't remember them at the moment.

    So ya, I just wanted to provide a bit more info about what happens at the Soldier's Memorial Theater. I would recommend searching here a bit more, Theresa- and not as a paranormal expert, as a normal person to the ghosts and spirits. They usually don't come out when they know they're wanted.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for the additional information!

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  2. It's now home to a Church..

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