The dark emotions of anxiety, terror, anger,
revenge, and hopelessness are some of the causes of these hauntings.
The spirits still love this theatre; a diversion from
reliving their ugly experiences or deaths.
Former theatre performers, employees, an owner
and a dance teacher still love this place.
Described as a beautifully restored, marble-fronted, ornate gilded Victorian Theater, with a glorious interior, wonderfully restored. There is balcony and orchestra and stage seating, with the old-fashioned box seating on both the left and right sides of the stage.
The Victoria Theatre has seating for 1,154 patrons, with 635 seats in the orchestra, and 519 in the balcony. The proscenium measures 37’7″ wide by 29’0″ high by 39’3″ deep. A full-sized orchestra pit lies just below the stage lip. Ten dressing rooms, accommodating up to 18 people, are off-stage left, in the basement and at stage level.
The auditorium is stunning in all its 1919 splendor with renovations to bring this theater into the 21st century. “The auditorium retained its original appearance with completely restored plaster work, drapery, marble work, gilding, and fresco detailing.”
Additionally, the auditorium received state-of-the-art upgrading to its wiring, lighting, and sound systems and now accommodated infrared sound transmitters for headphone use.
The 1989 extensive rebuilding of the theater included recalling the commercial space located at the street level, and using it for a grand, new lobby that fits the historic design presented.
Other parts of the building that were in bad shape were either restored or rebuilt better than before.
Today, the Victoria Theatre provides a variety of compelling Dayton “entertainment options” and is home to performances by many of Dayton’s major arts organizations. It is the place to go to for all the fine arts performances in Dayton. The Dayton Ballet, Dayton Contemporary, Dayton Opera, Dayton Live, Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra,The Human Race Theatre Company and The Muse Machine.
No art venue is ignored here, as popular music concerts and film buffs can come and see what they most like! Vintage rock accompanied by the Philharmonic orchestra, and other musical events take place here as well. In the summer, The Victoria Theatre offers films, film festivals and perhaps films with orchestra back-up. I bet their Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra has pop concerts, and may even play the scores to popular movies as the film is being shown on screen, like the Riverside Theater in Milwaukee does.
To bring in more funds, the Victoria Theatre can be rented for events or meetings. The theatre itself is not only a “intimate performance, breath-taking venue for performances,” but a classy place for large company meetings, and presentations while the lobby also provides a unique venue space for receptions of all kinds.
Several times in its history, this building has survived threats to its existence. It certainly is an old war horse that has survived due to the dedication of the community of people who love this old structure. The first theater that was built on this spot was in 1866, The Turner Opera House, that was a great place to go to enjoy culture and the arts. Three years after it opened, a devastating fire consumed the hall. Two years later, The Turner Opera House reopened triumphantly, offering high-class adventures for its theatre and opera patrons.
In 1885, the name of this theater was changed to Grand Opera House. In 1897, the patrons of the Grandand Opera House got a sneak preview of the new art medium; silent film!
Some of America’s most prestigious stars, including Edwin Forrest, Lillie Langtry, Harry Houdini, Sarah Bernhardt, and Mark Twain, were featured in productions during this period. The theatre changed names several times during this period as well, becoming the Grand Opera House in 1885, the Victoria Opera House in 1899; in honor of Queen Victoria who died in 1899, and, finally, the Victoria Theatre in 1902.
The troubles didn’t stop for The Victoria Theatre. In 1913, the city of Dayton and The Victoria Theatre were heavily damaged by a monster flood, but both recovered because of the determined citizens of the city.
Yet another calamity struck in 1918. Another fierce fire gutted the building. Yet, in the next year, in 1919, the building was rebuilt and reopened as The Victory Theatre, in honor of the men who fought and died but won in WW1.
When talkies came in 1929, films were shown to be very popular indeed. Equipment was added in 1930, to be able to provide talking films for its patrons, as well as live performances. As time marched on, the theatre became more and more a movie house, but still had live entertainment on stage. Apparently, traveling theatre companies had fallen in love with this place, and continued on performing here through all of the future troubles of this grand theatre.
By 1967, the downtown area was suffering from urban decay, and the theatre was in deplorable condition. It was reduced to being a run-down movie theatre, with traveling shows coming to perform here; still not caring that the theatre was a bit creaky.
Nothing much had been done to keep it up for forty-eight years. It was given a date with the wrecking ball, but was saved in the nick of time by a group of citizens, led by a feisty woman, Mrs. Kettering, who knew how to make things happen. They worked hard to get the theater named as a historic landmark, which gave this grand old theater a reprieve. The city was denied the space for their new parking lot.
All the while, despite its condition and process to restore it, “it continued to be visited extensively by traveling theater companies throughout the 1970s. Apparently, Choreographer Twyla Tharp didn’t mind its fixer-upper opportunity status, as Twyla used the Victory as a try-out venue for various productions before taking the material to the East Coast.
A popular vintage film series drew patrons during the summertime and featured pipe organ house music and silent film accompaniment, thanks to the acquisition of an NCR Theatre-donated Estey pipe organ, that was being torn down. Curtains from this doomed theatre also were sold to the Victory Theatre.
But Mrs. Kettering wasn’t done yet. Merely stopping the destruction of this beloved theatre didn’t satisfy her. She became the driving force to get the city council to revitalize not only the historic downtown area in the 1970s, but the renovation of this grand old theatre as well.
“Mrs. Kettering tied the $7 million Kettering family donation to the Victoria Theatre renovation and expansion in the 1980s, to the creation of a performing arts center in the block surrounding the theatre. Less than two weeks after Mrs. Kettering’s death, the owner/operator of the Victoria unveiled the Benjamin and Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center at Second and Main.”
In 1976, the Victory Theatre Association was formed to the betterment of Victory Theatre. Boatloads of volunteers began the long process of restoration work. In one year, the theatre improved enough to entice the Dayton Ballet Company to declare Victory Theatre as their permanent home.
Much encouraged, the Victory Theatre Association planned and launched a new annual season of professional theatre. Armed with enough funds, the Victory Theatre Association went ahead and purchased the building in 1978. Having full control, they went to work to restore much of the ornate plaster work that was located in the interior, added new carpeting and a badly needed roof was put on this historic treasure.
Victory Theatre Association held the fort until 1988, when the Arts Center Foundation bought the Victory Theatre from Victory Theatre Association. The Arts Center Foundation continued in the restoration process in this grand old lady, and began a $17.5 million renovation project to give her a needed face-lift. Eighteen months later all the renovation work was completed and the completely redone theatre was rechristened the Victoria Theatre once again.
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS
Spirits who loved working in a theatre in many capacities may decide to spend their afterlife there in their favorite place.
Riverside Theatre, WI (Spirits of Thespians and others involved in this theatre while alive
Sacramento Theater, CA (A variety of performers still reside here showing the living a variety of emotions).
The Elsinore Theater, OR (Quite a band of spectral theater people are the cheer leaders for the living running the theater. The spirit of George Guthrie still keeps an eye on the living to insure the quality of the performances. especially during rehearsals).
Victoria Theatre, OH (Spirits who really enjoyed being on stage and behind the scenes as support folks or instructors still do!).
Violence in this life that takes a life and leaves no closure can cause a spirit to be restless, yearning for the truth to come out.
Lumber Baron Mansion Bed and Breakfast, CO (The murder of two young women has never been solved, despite all the spirits who reside here telling paranormal investigators the killer’s name, as the original investigation was bungled and no evidence was saved).
O’Henry ‘s Roadhouse Building, IL (This sanctuary for mobsters also is the burial spot for their victims who simply disappeared, never to be seen again, and no justice for their deaths).
Myrtles Plantation, LA (Two African American women were cruelly hung from a tree and their murderers were never brought to justice due to the fact that both were slaves).
Victoria Theatre, OH (An actress, known as Vicky, disappeared without a trace from a dressing room at the theatre in the early 1900s; disappearing forever. Victoria was a touring actress in the early 1900s who went to her dressing room to change for Act two. After leaving to perform, she had to come back again to the dressing room because she had forgotten her fan; never to be seen again).
Actors and Actresses who depart suddenly before they can go on stage and perform, can become stuck in this world. They try to find ways to give them peace about their bearings by doing what they can do as spirits.
Maysville Opera House, KY (A performer died of a sudden illness and wasn’t able to finish her gig at this theatre).
Pittsburgh Playhouse, PA (An actor who had worked really hard on a challenging role, died of a sudden heart attack before he could perform on stage).
Saint John’s Twin Cinema and Pub, OR (A murdered Vaudevillian actor yearns to finish his gig on this stage).
Victoria Theatre, OH (Not only was Vicky probably an unsolved murder victim, but she was denied the opportunity to finish act 2 of a performance in a play that she had performed in this traveling theatre company).
Life trauma can stick with a live person throughout their lives and into their spirit after-life.
Chapel of the Cross, MS (A young couple in love were cruelly separated by the results of a duel, leaving the young lady behind devastated. Though she eventually recovered and married someone else, she as a spirit still mourns for him in the Chapel of the Cross graveyard where his spirit joins here).
Saint Francis Inn, FL (When a young officer fell in love with a house slave, their relationship was forbidden by the young officer’s father. After one more interlude with his beloved, he killed himself. The house slave lived her life but stays as a spirit where she served, to continue in her duties – to be with her beloved).
Anchuca Mansion Bed and Breakfast, MS (A young daughter fell in love with the overseer’s son but was forbidden to marry. though she continued in her life, as a spirit she is still mad and upset and still sits by the fireplace).
Victoria Theatre, OH (A young woman, Lucille, was physically attacked in one of the theatre’s private boxes).
Spirits who died via killing themselves, find that death doesn’t release them of their painful emotions and distress.
Clifton Mansion Apartments, OH (Two spirits here who killed themselves are still here, stuck in their pain).
Ham House Museum, IA (A spirit who hung himself from the tower that leads to the mansion’s capula, finds himself stuck in his intense pain).
Victoria Theatre, OH (A man committed suicide by impaling himself on a knife fastened to the back of a seat. His blood ran down into the orchestra pit making a huge, sticky mess).
One account says she was murdered, while other versions say that she survived and lived a long life. Perhaps the trauma of her attack is keeping her in this world.
A feeling of anguish and terror is picked up by psychic people.
One man who sat in this box was slapped hard by a female presence, leaving red marks on his face.
Apparently, the man reminded her of the person who either killed her or traumatized her.
Vicky, the missing actress – Her presence is felt in the Victoria theatre.
People smell her rose perfume.
The living hear her foot steps and the rustle of her petticoat as she crosses the stage area.
On the third floor, patrons and staff have seen her apparition on both the ladies restroom and the reception room.
Her face appears in the mirror that was hanging in her dressing room.
He took his own life in a dramatic and painful way that would be noticed and would disgust people.
But why in the auditorium?
Perhaps he was an actor who didn’t win the audition to be in a performance or part of the theatre orchestra.
Perhaps he suffered from unequited love for an actress or female employee.
Was his suicide an ultimate payback for his rejection? He could’ve been emotionally unstable and this rejection sent him over the waterfall into suicide.
The apparition of his face was seen on the curtains backstage.
His face is also seen when the curtains are drawn open in the auditorium exit door.
Staff, patrons and performers have had a boatload of experiences with the spirits who visit or reside here.
Project Paranormal Investigations caught some hard evidence that greatly increases the known number of spirits who adore this theatre.
Apparently, the spirits here are a talkative group. They caught a boatload of EVP’s of many spirits. One spirit once worked there as an usher, some crew members, actors and actresses, a director and a well dressed man with a dirty hat who watches people who come into the auditorium.
One EVP possibly suggests that the spirit of Vicki’s killer is grounded here. “They will never catch me!”
This well-dressed man could be the spirit of the Victoria’s founder keeping a close eye on the living and still enjoying his theater.
Spirits freely gave up their names: Isaac, Jacob, Alice, Jennifer Price, Bill and Miss Josephine Swartz who was a well-known ballet instructor.
One male spirit pleaded for help.
One gruff spirit didn’t believe he was dead, and asked the investigator. “Do you want to fight?” This fiesta spirit said that the year was 2000.
One male spirit keeps the spirit of Vicky company. Hopefully he is a friend and her protector.
There was a negative, evil one there as well, reported by the other spirits. This spirit said that he was sent to keep another spirit stuck here. Maybe Vicki’s killer? Yikes!
A big Yes Indeed!
While most of the spirits keep “underground” as to not take away from the performances that entertain the patrons, a few need to let the living know that they are still there, struggling with what has made them restless. The spirit of Vicky does what she can to make up for her huge disappointment about missing the second act of her play as well as dealing with her own murder. Lucille is still traumatized by her attack and sometimes lashes out at men who look like her attacker, and one spirit who killed himself is still in emotional stress; perhaps looking for help. Perhaps the killer of Vicky is grounded here as well who could be the spirit that the evil one is forcing to stay; if you believe what this nasty spirit says.
138 North Main Street
Dayton, OH 45402
Victoria Theatre is situated on the southeast corner of North Main and First Streets.
- The Dayton Foundation: Donor Stories: Virginia Kettering
- Victoria Theatre web site
- Dayton’s Haunted Theaters on Prairie Ghosts.com
Haunted Dayton Victoria Theatre – PPI 11-7-08 thru 12-7-12
Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr