A valued spectral manager was given a special honor.
The three story Boulder Theatre building, that shares walls with its diner/bar and other stores along 14th street, retains both of its 1905 original decor on the upper floors, and its glorious 1935 restoration art-deco design, courtesy of The Fox Theater Company, who did a fantastic job blending the two styles, making them one. The artistic art deco work above the Marquee sign, promoting the latest event or group or E-town presentation, is truly beautiful, using colored tile to depict a lovely nature scene. The yellow brickwork is fancy, and the dentils along the top are the upscale look for 1906!
The inside of the theater is designed to handle its multiple uses that keep the income flowing into the coffers, covering all sorts of live music and drama, and films as well. They are doing well financially, finding the right combination of entertainment that offers something for everyone; pleasing the people who support them. Their website states, “The Boulder Theater produces events that span most musical genres. We also have clients who host corporate and private events. From opera to movies to disco to rock, the historic Boulder Theater has a diverse and colorful past that is being continued with a thriving present and is primed for an exciting future.”
They have six levels of seating; A to F. There is a bar located in the middle of the first floor seating. There is also the choice of two balconies for seating. Sounds like every seat has a good view of the stage area.
It’s popular restaurant/bar, GEORGE’S FOOD AND DRINK, serves a variety of interesting entrées and beverages. Stairs located inside the Boulder Theater lead right to this little restaurant. It’s outside street entrance is located just to the right of the entrance to Boulder Theater. This lounge/restaurant/bar was renovated in 2007, and opened in 2008 to meet the dining and drinking needs of their patrons. It has inside seating and outside seating as well, complete with umbrellas.
The original building was constructed in 1905, and began its service mostly as a musical stage venue and concert hall. It opened in 1906 as The Curran Opera House, that offered opera, musical productions, but added a screen for silent movies; probably paired with an organ to play for the shows. It was financed by wealthy billboard sign owner, James Curran.
From the release of the first Warner Brother’s “talkie film”, THE JAZZ SINGER; in 1928, The Curran Theatre became more invested in showing sound films. Stage concerts and shows didn’t return until 1978. During the early thirties, The Curran Theater kept their doors open by showing double features, and having “Country Store Nights.” This was a promotional carrot to get people to come and buy tickets, hoping to win a free bag of groceries if they sat in the right seats. The people of Boulder loved their theater by supporting it; bringing in enough profit to interest the moguls of The Fox Theater Company.
In 1935, The Fox Theater Company purchased The Curran Theater, renaming it The Boulder Theater. In 1936, the new owners gave the building a lovely renovation, designed by Robert Boller of Kansas City. The building was expanded, and given a beautiful art-deco design, inside and out. It’s beautiful façade that is seen today was declared a Colorado Historic Landmark.
In 1978, The theater was sold to Mountain Productions, who renovated the theater back into a “state-of-the-art” concert hall. They book a variety of artists such as blues/folk singer; Bonnie Raitt, the controversial Punk Metal Band;The Plasmatics, keyboardist Jeff Lorber and the controversial stage performance of Timothy Leary, who some say didn’t have both oars in the water from over-use of psychedelic drugs. He was a very talented writer, and had many other talents; just perhaps a little odd for the normal patron.
Some sources blame the movie house style of seating that limited a “diversity of activity”, but perhaps what the owners were offering in entertainment didn’t float the boats of the Boulder public. They closed their operation in only fifteen months, in 1983.
From 1983-1993, the theatre had two more owners, who both dropped the over-the-top rowdy fare, and transformed the theatre back into a multi-use venue. In 1993, the theatre closed again, but not for long.
Finally, there was an owner who found the right combination of what to offer, that made this venue a success. The good people of Boulder now can be entertained by classic films, go to the Boulder International Film Festival, Warren Miller films, Boulder Adventure Film Festival, and hear around 250 concerts given by “the most respected national, international and local artists performing today.” A variety of community events, such as E-town’s live radio show tapings have had a popular appeal with the public as well.
In 2007, more and more of the theater’s patrons wanted more real dinners, not just the light snacks and bar fare offered in the theatre’s little bar and eatery located just south of the theatre, in the same building; so it was time to renovate to accommodate the food desires of their patrons.
Boulder Theater spokesman and publicist, Ms. Coffield, explained in a 2008 Boulder Camera Daily article; “We were finding that people wanted more of a heartier meal, so we decided to broaden our menu. We kept a lot of the same stuff. The food was great, but people wanted more. We’re calling it contemporary comfort food.”
On June 27th, 2008, the newly renovated little restaurant/bar reopened, with the name “The Lounge.” However, its name was changed in July, to George’s Food and Drink, in honor of the Boulder Theater’s resident spirit. George’s Food and Drink opened its doors again under the new name, in July of 2008. It is interesting to find out why the little restaurant was renamed; an occurrence that doesn’t happen too often.
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS
In the 1920s, when this theater was known as The Curan Theatre, George Paper was the manager. George really loved his job as manager; being involved in all the details of upkeep and managing staff, acts, etc.. This was his dream job that he loved for years. There are two theories as to how George Paper died. The result from whatever scenario took place is that George wasn’t ready to accept his death, and not willing to go to the next step. George still wanted to work at his theater in this dream job that he had a real passion for and really enjoyed doing.
When a person accidentally kills himself in an accident, or dies in an accident that could’ve been prevented, they sometimes still want to be a part of life in this world, trying to participate in what they loved to do while alive.
Urban legend tells the deadly tale that George accidentally hung himself in 1944, while working above the stage area, trying to fix a lighting rig by himself with no assistant. He fell and his head landed in a noose of wiring, sealing his fate.
However, the obituary that ran in the Daily Camera in April of 1944, makes no mention of any accident, and reported that he died at Fitzsimmons Medical Center. Perhaps he suddenly died of something else. Or, maybe people got him down from the wiring when he was near death, and took him to the hospital where he did finally die. Perhaps his family and the theater owners didn’t want the world to know of his unfortunate accident.
When people have found their passion in life, working the dream job or providing a needed service, they sometimes want to continue doing so, not letting that fact that they are dead get in the way.
The spirit of George Paper
This intelligent spirit has long been an active/proactive resident observer, spectral manager and protector of the theater; wanting the living to know that he is still there, and wanting to be a part of things very badly, which is hard to do if you have no physical body anymore.
George has found ways to contribute! Has prominently made himself known to the living, starting soon after his death, and continuing throughout the years. Everyone who has worked here knows it by personal experience. There are no doubters.
Appearance of George Paper
George appears as a tall man, wearing a 1920s suit and hat.
For many years in the theater, staff and patrons reported seeing a tall man wearing a hat disappearing into the bathrooms, leaving only a cold spot behind.
He was also seen roaming the halls on his inspection tour. George has served as a security force for the theater!
Letting the living know he is still present: George is fascinated with light bulbs, and has been known to take them from the back stage area, perhaps to study them, or find the energy to put them in the sockets himself.
He used to be in charge of items like this. Bulbs have changed a lot since the 1940s.
Throughout the years, George made a point of protecting his beloved theater from many theft attempts. He treated intruders with the full spectral sports package, appearing as a solid apparition; not pleased, effectively scaring potential wrong-doers.
Recently, a burglar broke into the theatre, not knowing about the spectral security force. The police found the scared, discouraged, would-be thief cowering in the projection booth. He was afraid to go anywhere else, because of the tall man who was wearing a hat. This tall man kept appearing in front of him; stopping any progress to steal items, as well as terrifying the thief.
Patrons and staff have felt and experienced his friendly unseen presence as well.
George’s Former Apartment (3rd Floor)
Theatre employees have reported to management odd and a little eerie occurrences that they have experienced while being inside the theater’s third-floor VIP room and the old projection room.
These areas made up the space of George Paper’s former apartment.
People have felt unexplained cold spots and cool breeze phenomena throughout the years.
George’s Bar/Restaurant Manifestations
When the new lounge opened, George became very active and restless in the Boulder Theater, letting the staff and owners know that he wasn’t happy and wanted some control in the new space.
Realizing the unhappiness of their theater spirit, it was decided to rename the new restaurant/bar after George, which did give him some peace, and made him really happy; at last feeling an important part of the living’s world. True to form, George began his usual routine of making himself known to the living in his new little restaurant, named after himself.
Sometimes George makes his hangout near the bathrooms, opening and closing the door to the men’s room and the stalls inside and turning the faucets on and off.
One employee who was coming down the stairs to come into George’s Food and Drink, saw an outline of a man run across the cafe and disappear.
Employees and patrons both experienced unexplained cold spots in George’s Food and Drink as well, suggesting that George is busy over-seeing his new restaurant/bar with enthusiasm.
A big YES INDEED!
There have been so many experiences with George, that his presence there is certainly very probable. He had made and continues to make his presence known to all employees and management, with patrons also experiencing him as well.
The Boulder Theater personnel and management have a fondness for George, and are glad that he is happy and honored to have a little restaurant and bar named after him. He apparently is still on staff, and does his do diligence watching over the place.
While I couldn’t find any published results from any paranormal investigations, hard proof has probably been caught, perhaps in private investigations. Or, perhaps investigations are discouraged because everyone knows of his presence, and don’t want strangers coming in to annoy George, who would find a way to give them an earful about these folks.
Everyone who has ever owned or worked for the Boulder Theater and George’s Food and Drink, has had personal experiences with George. Patrons as well have experienced him being there. The criminal element of Boulder know him as the seen and unseen security spirit; a scary fellow with no patience for break-ins.
When the newly christened restaurant opened, George stopped the high activity in the theatre. Although George still patrols the Boulder Theater, he is most active in his new restaurant/bar; being a spectral helper and the spirit manager in this restaurant and bar named after him!
Pearl Street Mall, 2028 14th Street
Boulder, Colorado 80302
The Boulder Theater & its lounge/diner/bar, George’s Food and Drink, can be found in the historical section of downtown Boulder, right in the center of the Pearl Street Mall, a lovely restored section of downtown; truly well-done! The main cross streets, running east/west, are Walnut to the south and Spruce St. to the north. Predictably, the main cross streets running north/south are 13th and 15th streets. The folks who designed this part of Boulder were organized and sequential!
- The Ghost Hunter’s Field Guide
by Rich Newman
- www.hauntedcolorado.net – Boulder Daily Camera article
By Vince Darcangelo -Thursday, October 30, 2008