Birdcage Theater

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A bustling place of visual and sensual
entertainment for 26-31 documented spirits!

birdcage

 

DESCRIPTION & HISTORY

Tom and I went to visit Tombstone on our 2006 road trip, and were excited to find such a fine example of a historically restored 1880 western town, complete with people dressed in costumes of the era, making us feel like we had stepped back in time, much like going to a Renaissance Fair. One can see, for example, the likes of Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp and his posse, in their black coat garb, walking around town in character, eventually reenacting the shoot-out at the O.K. corral, which comes with the price of admission.

“Tombstone merchants take pride in keeping their town as authentic as it was 100 years ago, giving millions of visitors a real look back into the wild west as it really was.”

The buildings have been restored to their historical best, and the merchants have some very nice, high quality items for sale in a variety of price ranges, sure to fit everyone’s budget; definitely not tourist trap junk.

The Bird Cage Theater – One of the most haunted buildings in Tombstone is The Bird Cage Theater. This notorious place of vice-inspired and robust entertainment was considered in its time to be a wildly wicked den of sin and rowdiness, open 24 hours. It got its name from the 14 cribs or cages, draped with velvet, which hung from the ceiling, where the bar’s prostitutes, dressed in feathers, would “service” men. Plenty of drinking and gambling, and stage shows for the clientele.

From the outside, the building is a long, sturdy, stone and brick, building, one and three quarter stories high, with a basement; offering three levels in its 48 ft. by 150 ft. footprint. Inside, it has been called the most authentic looking establishment in Tombstone, a museum with the best decor, displaying artifacts and original items which belonged in the 1880s Bird Cage Theater. It truly is like visiting another time. The same original family, who built the place in 1881, has owned this building for four generations, which explains the continuity and authenticity of the displays, creating an atmosphere not that much different from when the original bar closed in 1889, when the mines shut down.

The Bird Cage Theater was closed for fifty years, but was reopened for tourists when Tombstone was picked to be on the national historical places list. The Bird Cage Theater was named a national historical site as well.

Tom and I took a tour of The Bird Cage Theater. We looked around the saloon, the dance hall, the casino and the wine cellar. The aura of the theater has a restless feel – like we were not alone. We felt like we were being watched. We were impressed with all the artifacts and memorabilia, much the way it would have looked back in the old days of this high rollin’, high drinkin’ night club, which fulfilled every man’s wildest desires. I thought it rather creepy that while customers were enjoying a beer, having a poker game or watching the show on stage, men were having their needs met in the cages hanging above the customer’s heads!

If the customer wanted more privacy, and a longer time for “romance,” he could rent a room with a bed down in the lower level, and for 24 hours have a good time. Just outside these 24 hour rooms, was the area of many high stakes poker games, and other “gaming opportunities.”

There were also private second floor balcony boxes/cribs, along the side of the main casino floor, where the occupants could see all the activities down below; the stage show, and other events. A staircase led up to these second floor boxes and the notorious bird cages, now closed to the living, but reserved for unseen presences who still patronize this honky tonk.

 

HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS

The unintended consequences of wild living often result in pain, suffering, feelings of injustice and despair, and sometimes a sudden end.

Many of the women who worked in these cribs or cages hoped to find a man to marry, in order to leave the business, and become respectable. If this didn’t happen by the time they were 30, they often killed themselves.

Booze, guns, and gambling, when mixed together with sorry sports, high emotions, bad tempers and hostile dispositions led to gun fights and people dying. All told 26 people died in gun incidents in the saloon area. There are 148 bullet holes in the walls, and floors of the building.

It is not surprising that The Bird Cage Theater is said to be the home of at least 26 documented ghosts, though as many as 31 entities could be making The Bird Cage their home.

MANIFESTATIONS

Activity really jumps a notch or two in intensity after 9:00 pm, though manifestations have happened during the daylight hours as well.

Auditory Manifestations

The museum’s sound system sometimes turns itself on, providing saloon music which surprises the living and brings enjoyment to the entities who still patronize The Bird Cage Theater.

Many witnesses among the living have heard:

The clear disembodied voice of a woman singing.

Sounds of music playing.

Sounds of hearty laughter when no-one is present.

Strange noises coming from the balcony boxes.

The sound of people talking when no-one is present.

The sound of dice being thrown, glasses clinking and cards being shuffled.

Visual Manifestations

Cheryl Leavere, Bird Cage Theater manager, reports “The ghosts here are friendly and like to play.”

Items move around seemingly by themselves and are put in odd places.

An apport in the form of a never-before-seen 100 dollar poker chip appeared one day on a gambling table, and was found by a tourist. The owner locked it in a safe. When experts arrived to take a look at it, the chip had disappeared, much to the annoyance of all involved. The chip reappeared in a locked desk drawer after the experts had left.

A life-sized statue of Wyatt Earp was placed in one of the balcony boxes. Every morning afterward, museum employees would find his hat sitting in the middle of the floor below. This continued for six months. One morning, the statue was even completely turned around. A historian was finally consulted and he told them that they had put Wyatt Earp in the box which the Clantons used to reserve. Uh oh! They quickly moved the Earp statue to the correct balcony box, and the hat throwing stopped.

Transparent apparitions dressed in a variety of 1880s attire, have been seen throughout The Bird Cage Theater building.

At night, the living have seen a whole room full of entities partying hearty in the main hall.

The entity of a male stage hand walking across the stage, going about his business is a common report. He is seen wearing black stripped pants, a visor and holding a clip board.

The entity of a female dressed in 1880s attire, has been seen going into the wine cellar and then fading into the air.

The entity of a man dressed in 1880s attire, is forever looking for his wife all over the theater, looking very sad, depressed and confused.

Olfactory Manifestations

People have smelled the distinctive odor of cigar smoke, and the distinct aroma of whiskey.  When no-one living is smoking or drinking.

STILL HAUNTED?

Oh yes indeed!

Many paranormal investigations have found strong evidence of entities.

Perhaps those who hang here don’t know that they are dead, or are not ready to move on, because their lives were snuffed out so fast.

One such entity is a member of the Clanton family, probably Billy Clanton, a dire enemy of Wyatt Earp, who died at the OK Corral.

Another is a stage manager who perhaps caught a bullet during a fight.

Other entities are in pain and despair.

The entity of a broken-hearted, crushed man, looking for his wife in this unsavory atmosphere, who suffered a sad end.

Others found that killing oneself doesn’t solve anything, and they only trap themselves in a place they longed to escape from, unable to let go.

Entities of past “loose women” who killed themselves also haunt the building.

 

LOCATION

517 E Allen Street
Tombstone, Arizona 85638

The Bird Cage Theater can be found in the old silver mining town, Tombstone, Arizona, which has been historically preserved for tourists, who keep the place economically sound. It is located at the very end of the main drag, Allen St., which runs through the historic old downtown. Traditionally, this area was Tombstone’s red light district. Throughout the years, the other establishments were torn down, leaving only The Birdcage Theater.

Tombstone was founded on a mesa between the Dragoon Mountains and Huachuca Mountains, after a scrappy prospector, Ed Schieffling, found a rich deposit of silver. While Tombstone was a booming silver mine town, from 1880 through 1889, with a notorious and wild reputation, it’s colorful history is what has given it a new lease on life as a popular tourist attraction, throughout the years. The most memorable event which took place here was the shoot out at the O.K. Corral, between Wyatt Earp and his posse, and the Clanton and McLaury gang.




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SOURCES INCLUDE

  • Tour of the Bird Cage Theater
  • legendsofamerica.com

Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr

 

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