Things that go Bump in the Night at the Brown Grand Theatre

On Friday, October 23rd, the Brown Grand received the report from the Wichita Paranormal Research Society, which had conducted a research session at the Brown Grand Theatre in Concordia KS on August 29, 2009 from 7 p.m to 3 a.m.. Sherrie Curry, Investigator, Public Relations Manager and Case Manager, reported to Susan Cantine-Maxson that there were definite signs of “activity” at the Brown Grand. Founded by Shane Elliott, The Wichita Paranormal Research Society is one of the fastest growing paranormal investigation teams in Kansas. The group's website, states, “ As paranormal investigators, we are committed to authenticating evidence and documenting the existence of any paranormal activity via audio, video, and other electronic means of equipment. By using current high-tech technology we are able to conduct extensive scientific investigations and interpret the evidence collected and present evidence to the client in the hopes of creating a better understanding of the current activity and possible options to be taken. The Wichita Paranormal Research Society does not attempt to "prove" a haunting. We are here to conduct an investigation where we look at all aspects of reported activity, client observations, and gathered evidence to come up with the most reasonable explanation.”

Curry sent via email several audio files which purport to have whispered sayings on them; many of them are a female voice and are quite difficult to hear. Cantine commented, “I’ve listened very carefully but the only thing I can distinguish is the one where a female clears her throat. I think perhaps we need more sophisticated equipment to play back the files to hear what the researchers heard. They say many of the phrases are hard to distinguish but sound like “It’s my fault” and “that’s right”. Other whisperings include the word “life” and “light”.

Cantine said that the most interesting evidence to her were the videotapes. “Curry sent us four short video clips which show lights. During the investigation the theatre was entirely dark except for flashlights. Curry stated that the bright light was the result of black lights on stage and in most of the videos, the moving light is a flashlight. There is one video, however, which seems to have an unidentified light movement. The Upper left shot of the balcony beside the stair entrance has a quick movement of light and dark that cannot be identified. Cantine continued, “ In some wedding photos from a few years back, it is a light source on stage or an aura that shows up in some of the pictures which was not visible when the photographer was taking the shots. That source of energy seems to be a commonality.”

Curry also reported three other occurrences which were not recorded on videotape:

1. While walking on the catwalk backstage Ted and I thought we saw a shadow of a person walk on stage into a room...maybe the electrical room towards the front of the stage on the left...if you are facing the stage. I thought it was one of us...but it wasn't. Not caught on video.

2. While standing on stage towards the back I thought I saw a shadow of a person up in the balcony on the right...if you are standing on stage...right where you (the Brown Grand) had prior claims...thought it was one of us...found out it was not.

3. While investigating up on the catwalk with Shaun (another investigator) we kept hearing voices but we were unable to identify where they were coming from. Sounded Female...not sure.

For years, the Brown Grand ghost has been called “Earl” because the general manager and son of the builder of the Brown Grand, Earl Van Dorne Brown died in his 30’s and had strong ties to the Brown Grand. Several individuals have reported odd events over the years such as the sighting of a man in period dress in the balcony, nails pounded in the walls in odd places during the Restoration in the late 1970’s. Last summer, an employee of the grocery store across the street says he was staying in the parking lot overnight, guarding a truck load sale, when his dog started barking incessantly. He looked out and saw a couple which looked like a soldier and a woman in old fashioned clothing entering the Brown Grand in the middle of the night through a door which is always locked. They never came out. Recently deceased owner of the Brown Grand when it was a movie theater, Jack Roney had reported that when he stayed late at the theatre, he often heard several voices as if people were having a party. Other unexplained occurrences such as lights dimming for no reason reinforce people’s ideas of the presence of a spirit.

Cantine said, “Since I’ve been here, I’ve always told everyone that Earl and I are buddies, even though I’ve never seen any evidence of a spirit. I know he would be very happy that the theatre is a theatre once again. I’m just sorry that he always gets blamed for everything. If a window gets left open, Earl did it. The computer doesn’t work; Earl is up to his tricks. What I like about the idea of Earl is that he is always very benign. Most of what the paranormal investigators reported was a female voice but they said that gender isn’t really a significant clue to a spirit’s identity, so I still like to think of the ghost as Earl, although there may be more than one spirit in the Brown Grand.”

When individuals were asked to share some of the stories of experiences with the Brown Grand ghost, Concordia resident and State Representative, Elaine Bowers reported:

“I really don’t have a “ghost story” but I will never forget a “feeling” I had following a tour that I gave when I worked at the Chamber of Commerce many years ago. I always had a routine of dropping the curtain last and pulling it up when everyone had left. But one day (and the last time I ever did this) when I was pulling it up and was keenly aware of a “heaviness” (the best way I can describe it) behind me and I turned around and saw the basement drop/floor door was open. It was more of a sense - I never saw anything but I felt something that made me tense up in a way that I had never done before - I had a big urgency to leave quickly. I had a hard time breathing and I felt a level of panic even. I pulled up the curtain as fast as I could and then hurried down the hallway to the front and locked up. I never had that “feeling” before or after nor have I allowed myself to be backstage near the basement door alone again - and I am perfectly happy to go on stage or even give a tour again - but never alone - I will leave with the group!”

Curry said that she didn’t have to worry because it is the electromagnetic force that causes that heaviness. The Brown Grand Ghost has always been a playful spirit.

This weekend, Cloud County Community College will be presenting a play written by director Susan Sutton entitled “Pleasant Hill” on October 29, 30 & 31 at 7. This play centers on the lives of the people buried in Pleasant Hill cemetery in Concordia, including the Brown family who established the Brown Grand Theatre. Perhaps audience members will also witness an occasional cameo role played by a spirit on stage or in the balcony.

For further information from the Wichita Paranormal Research Society contact

Sherrie Curry

Susan Cantine-Maxson, Executive Director
Brown Grand Theatre, 1907 Restored Opera House
310 W 6th St
PO Box 347
Concordia, KS 66901
FAX: 785 243 1167