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Haunted Springfield, Missouri - Page 2

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Landers Theater Springfield Missouri

Vintage Landers Theater Postcard


Landers Theater in Springfield, Missouri

The Landers Theater in Springfield, Missouri today. 

Kathy Weiser, February, 2005.






Landers Theater – Built in 1909, this four-story brick and terra cotta building has been in continuous use since its inception.  Once playing host to such artists as Lillian Russell, John Philip Sousa, Lon Chaney and Fanny Brice, it later became a motion picture house -- one of the first to acquire "talkies.”


In 1977, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and in the 1980s the theatre underwent major renovations to return it to its early 1900s elegance.  Today the theatre continues to entertain southwest Missouri with plays, musicals, ballet, symphony and more.


But in addition to its many visitors who come for the entertainment, this old "playhouse” is also called home to several restless spirits.  The one most often seen is that of a janitor who died during a fire in the theatre in the early twentieth century.  On December 17, 1920, the Landers Theatre suffered a major fire, taking the life of the janitor and effectively closing the theatre for some time.  Only an asbestos curtain and other fireproofing precautions kept the theater from being a total loss.  According to reports, the old janitor is often seen up in the balcony by actors on the stage. 


Landers Theater InteriorThere is another story of a baby that was accidentally dropped from the upper balcony on a night long ago. Today, when actors are practicing on stage they often say that the baby repeats its fall over and over again.  Others have heard the baby crying, followed by comforting words from its ghostly mother.


Another apparition, only seen from outside the theatre, is said to peek from a fourth floor window at passersby along the street.  Described as tall with long blonde hair and wearing Elizabethan clothing, this spirit has never been seen inside the theatre.

Strange occurrences at the theatre include unplugged spotlights that seemingly turn on and off of their own accord, people who sense that they are being followed, taps felt on people’s shoulders by unknown entities, and apparitions glimpsed throughout the building.

The theatre is located at 311 E. Walnut.


Reader Update:  The beautiful Lander Theater in Springfield, Missouri has two more ghosts to report. Having personally seen or heard all but the actor on the fourth floor, I'd like to see the other two added to your piece about the theater. One is called the Green Orb -- it is about five feet tall and very bright. I have seen it on the landing of the west stairs between the first and second balcony. The second addition is the scariest thing I've ever seen. It is called the Black Void. As with the Green Orb, the Black Void can be seen anywhere in the building. One night as I was going into work backstage, I passed though the very tight alley on the west side to the backstage door. Suddenly, I  felt a little uneasy and stopped to look around, but didn't see anything.  However, when I looked up to the fire escapes, I saw the Black Void between the first and second balcony exits.  It looked like a big black hole and the red brick of the building was just gone!  The Void had replaced it with a BIG jet black spot that looked as if you could walk right though it. Needless to say I quickly ran inside!!  - R. Vestal, October, 2004


Springfield National Cemetery –  This old cemetery was established in the 1860s and holds the remains of several Civil War soldiers, some of which are apparently restless.   Visitors to the cemetery have reported seeing glowing gravestones in the night and several others have walked away with photographs that include strange apparition appearing subjects and dozens of orbs.  The cemetery is located at 1702 East Seminole Street in downtown Springfield at the cross street of Glenstone Avenue (US 65).


University Plaza Hotel - Unlike many quaint inns and motels, the Plaza Hotel is not proud of its resident ghost.  Touting itself as Springfield’s premier meeting place and convention center, it fears that knowledge of the spirit will hurt its business.  However, "The Colonel,” as he has become known, has been seen by most everyone who works at the Convention Center.  The towering hotel is built upon land that was once a large plantation belonging to a well-decorated Civil War hero.  This older gentleman, dressed all in black is most often seen between midnight and 4:00 a.m. in the ballroom and in the back hallways of the hotel.  The University Plaza Hotel is located at South John Q. Hammons Pkwy at the cross street of East Saint Louis Street.



©Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated September, 2016.


Reader Update:  I read with interest regarding the decorated Civil War hero who supposedly haunts our hotel.  It almost has to be John Polk Campbell who at one time owned almost all the land in what is now Springfield, Missouri.  Thought you might like to have a name for this man. - Mary, Springfield, Missouri, December, 2004.

Reader Update #2:   I have done further research into the founding fathers of Springfield, and I now believe the ghost in the University Plaza Hotel is instead, John S. Phelps, who was a very much decorated Civil War veteran.  Sorry for the earlier conjecture.  Will try to research further.  Mary, Springfield, Missouri, January, 2005.


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