South Dakota February 20, 2018
The South Dakota Ghost Story That Will Leave You Absolutely Baffled
The Orpheum Theater in Sioux Falls is a beautiful, historic theater that has hosted concerts and theater productions since 1913. But in addition to the talented actors, musicians and stage crew who work here, there’s someone else hanging around this theater…
The Orpheum Theater in Sioux Falls was built in 1913.
It could seat up to 1,000 people and was mainly constructed to house Vaudeville shows. At a cost of $63,200, this theater was grand for its time. People paid $5 per seat for its opening performance on October 2, 1913 - the first performance of many over the following 100+ years.
A complete renovation in 2009 updated the Orpheum and gave it new life.
While workers ripped out old seats and experts restored original murals, one thing about the Orpheum didn't change: its resident ghost.
The ghost, nicknamed "Larry," has been around since at least 1959.
An actor was rehearsing his part for a play when he looked up at the balcony and saw a bright, blue light. In the middle of the light, a man was waving his arms and appeared distraught. Then, the stage was hit with a strange blast of icy air, and the actor fled.
Throughout the years, many people have claimed to see or hear Larry.
Cleaning staff has reported hearing unexplained footsteps well after theater patrons have gone home. Box office personnel report weird pockets of cold air and feelings of being watched. Others have claimed to see blue lights, particularly in the balcony area.
In the early 1970s, one member of the cleaning crew had a particularly spine-tingling encounter.
He was on the stage, sweeping up after a performance. He heard a noise behind him and found a photo lying on the stage, right in the area he has just swept. The photo was a picture of a man in his mid-30s, who some believe is Larry. The strangest thing about the photo was that it was a tin-type photo - a type of photograph created in the late 1800s with a thin sheet of tine. This kind of photography was replaced by more modern technology in the early 1900s.
Though many people agree that Larry definitely haunts the theater, no one is sure where he came from or who he is.
There are many theories. Some think he was a construction worker who died while building the theater; others claim that he was an actor who committed suicide when he failed to get a part or was jilted by a lover. Other theories include that he was murdered in the balcony or that he was a stage hand killed in a tragic accident. No records have been found that corroborate any deaths in the theater.
The other baffling part of this ghost story is the timeline.
If the tin-type photo was indeed a photo of Larry, it would have been taken between 1860 and the time of the theater's opening, yet the first recorded sighting of Larry didn't take place until 1959. If he was haunting the theater the whole time, why did no one see him? And if he wasn't haunting the theater until 1959, why did he show up then?
As will all ghost stories, we'll likely never know the true story of Larry, or if he really exists at all...but it's entertaining to think that this historic theater has a resident ghost, isn't it?
What do you think about this ghost story?
If you’re interested in exploring more haunted places,
here are 10 places in South Dakota to spot a ghost.