North Platte Nebraska
Neville Center for Performing Arts
There is a friendly spirit who finds ways to help the living!
Neville Center for Performing Arts is a much loved, non-profit organization that is supported by the public who embrace both films and live performances. This renovated, somewhat restored 1929, theatre building is the home of both Fox Theater (for classic movies) and the North Platte Community Playhouse, under one name: Neville Center for Performing Arts. Thanks to a community of performing arts and movie fans, this beloved place has enjoyed strong community support for a long time.
The outside of this structure still has some of its original beauty describes below in the “History” section. What is still impressive is the glazed brickwork in the corner front and the glorious FOX Theatre sign.
While the inside decor isn’t as grand as it once was when it was built, there are 851, new red, classy, upscale seats, in a versatile auditorium that is equipped for both films and stage productions.
We happened to be there when the theatre manager arrived, and she let us in to see the theater. On the wall in the lobby, pictures of Mr. and Mrs. Neville hung on the wall in a place of honor. The lobby is like a step back in time. Loved the staircase going up to the balcony. She didn’t know where the lights were for the auditorium but it was a nice-sized theatre and the red seats are very classy with an Art Deco flair.
Besides showing classic family movies, and producing live plays, The theatre is the place to have weddings, small and large presentations, recitals, pageants, concerts, senior portraits and other events for a reasonable rental fee. They apparently know how to put this delightful building to work, not missing an opportunity!
The original 1929 vaudeville theater was built by mover and shaker, former Nebraska Governor, Keith Neville and his Real estate company. It was designed by Omaha’s Frederick A. Henninger and completed by builder Alex Beck.
While it opened as a vaudeville theatre, it became a film showcase theater when Fox came to town and installed new equipment for “Talkie films.” This Fox Theater became one of the first of the picture palaces set up by the FOX Company. This explains why there is a beautiful FOX sign on the front of the theatre.
The Archipedia website, describes this structure that is home to the Neville Center for Performing Arts like it originally was designed; some of which still exists.
“The product of an eclectic combination of various architectural styles, the Fox Theater is a fine example of an early-twentieth-century ‘Picture Palace.’ The two primary south and west facades are clad in glazed brick with rich plaster and terra-cotta ornamentation most prevalent on the south elevation.”
“The corner entrance serves as a focal point, featuring lavish detailing on the corner bays and signage displaying the Fox name. The original interior featured Renaissance-inspired elements such as fabric panels and columns ornamented with gold moldings executed in intricate plaster patterns.”
The Nevilles had four daughters and the building was kept in the family. Films were shown in this Fox Theater until it closed in 1979; sitting idle for only a short time. The Neville sisters donated this much beloved Fox Theatre building to another loved group; North Platte Community Playhouse in December, 1980.
North Platte Community Playhouse group was delighted with this donation as this venue already had a theatrical stage as well as a screen. North Platte Community Playhouse group didn’t let moss grow under their feet and went right to work in having fund drives. In just three years, in 1983, enough money was raised to renovate this classic theatre with the help of volunteers. It evolved into the Neville Center of the Performing Arts. The renovation work earned the Community Playhouse group the coveted Governor’s Arts Award.
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS
Renovations and restorations of old buildings can draw back spirits who loved the place while they are alive, especially if the theatre goes back to its beginning purpose of offering stage shows as well as films.
Kevin and Mary Neville loved vaudeville shows and built this theatre to accommodate stage performances. This use lasted only a few years until “talkie movies” became so popular. So he allowed his theatre to become a film palace for Fox.Their spirits must be thrilled to see patrons coming to see live theatre once again as well as the films.
Employees, General Managers or thespians who loved their work in their special, beloved theater, sometimes like to continue to be there in spirit form. If they had died unexpectedly, they sometimes choose to stick around.
Theatre culture says that vaudeville actor fell off the balcony and died in the 1930s.
While no psychic or hard evidence has been shared with the public, I think perhaps the activity of this spirit described below could be acting as a gracious host or hostess, which may reflect who they were and what they did while alive.
Seasoned paranormal investigators, from TRIP, handed the 2013 general manager, Scott Carlson some hard evidence that was caught in the balcony area.
Most of the paranormal activity takes place in the theatre’s balcony and lighting booth.
People have seen shadowy figures walking in the balcony.
A Gentle Presence
General manager Scott Carlson had the experience of sitting in the lighting booth looking at the script when he saw out of the corner of his eye someone come into the booth with him.
When he looked, no one was there.
This spirit is very personable and gracious and likes to welcome folks by gently touching their hands in a welcoming manner; not wishing to scare them.
Very cold spots have been noticed by the living patrons and probably staff.
Most Probably so! General manager Scott Carlson said that he has experienced some “weird things” though he wasn’t sold that the place had a theatre spirit or two. He stated that perhaps the spirits of the original owners Kevin and Mary Neville may like to visit.
“If there is something here, whatever it is isn’t dark or causing any problems,” said the Playhouse 2013 general manager Scott Carlson.
Possible candidates for the spirit or spirits here are perhaps a former tech crew member, a past vaudevillian, an usher, a general manager or perhaps Mr. Or Mrs. Keith Neville themselves.
301 East 5th Street,
North Platte, NE
Neville Center for Performing Arts: Fox Movie Theatre and North Platte Community Playhouse is located on the corner lot at the intersection of East 5th Street and N. Bailey Street, just a short walk from the fixer-upper opportunity; The closed Pawnee Hotel that is next to it on the other side of East 5th Street.
Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr