Harvard Exit Theater Building
The spirits still enjoy their favorite place: Ghostly male
bonding, and friendly help has caused surprising activity.
Pain and restlessness caused by murder and suicide also causes paranormal activity.
Harvard Exit Theater Building has been carefully renovated into a space for the Seattle Consulate of Mexico, keeping the original structure.
It takes up 70% of the interior being located in the former theatre space.
The lower area transformed into a public space for processing visas, creating passport documents, and performing consultations. The loft seating above was converted into offices, and the stage up front turned into a conference room.
Modern features mingle with original ceiling beams and Palladian windows, which had been covered up when the space was converted to a theater. The remodel is heavy on glass to keep the historic features visible.
The third floor ballroom had some surprises in that 60 windows were discovered under this former theater’s plaster walls and were restored; creating a wonderful large office space and meeting room for 49 people.
Harvard Exit Theater is described as an unusual, luxurious home, more than it is a theater. This three story brick building was erected in the 1900s, on the site of another house that had once existed on this same spot.
The first floor main lobby is described as being grand and glorious, full of the 1920 ambiance, featuring a grand piano and a beautiful chandelier. Comfortable chairs, some with tables and lamps, are grouped around the huge fireplace, which is always traditionally lit for the patrons to watch and enjoy while waiting entrance to the theater on the first floor. The first floor theater is the main theater and has a balcony.
The second floor is used for administrative purposes, with offices and work areas provided for employees of the theater. A main hall on the second floor runs through the area, with various rooms off this hall.
The third floor holds the new theater, that was put in during the 1980s, when a second auditorium was added in an unused ballroom space on this third floor of the building. The lobby of this theater also has a fireplace, which is also lit for patrons to enjoy.
In the 1920s, Harvard Exit House became the home of the Women’s Century Club for many years, whose focused members were dedicated to getting the right to vote and equality for women. From the early days of the Women’s Century Club, some women members lived in the building, on the second floor and in the apartment on the third floor, through the 1970s. The Women’s Century Club still meets in the building twice a week, though it is now known as a Theater House.
Harvard Exit Theater opened as a cinema in 1968, and was run by people described as “eccentric film buffs.” Or perhaps a more blunt point of view would see them as a “wild bunch of hippie types,” an opinion held by Allan Blangy, who was the Theater Manager at one point, but now is the district manager of the Landmark Theater chain. The Landmark Theater chain took over the operations in 1979, and put in another cinema on the third floor, during the early 1980s. Today, the Harvard Exit Theater specializes in art films; both foreign and American classic movies, and is the sight of film festivals, such as the Seattle International Film Festival.
In 2014, the Harvard Exit Club was sold to developer Eagle Rock Ventures. After getting approval for their plans from the Harvard-Belmont Historic District folks, the designs by by developer SHW architects and Dovetail General Contractors, were approved and their adaptive reuse renovation was begun in 2015.
The Seattle Consulate of Mexico opened its doors in July in 2018.
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS
Hauntings of this building seem to go back to its very beginning when it was first built. There are several facts about and incidents which happened in the Harvard Exit that can give explanations for the paranormal activities. Nearly every decade through the ’80s contributed something to the paranormal activity experienced by the living.
Main Theater – First Floor
Around the turn-of-the-century, the murder of a man killed in a brawl took place in the house that was torn down to make room for this Harvard Exit building.
A male manifestation, described as being portly, slightly see-through and wearing an old-fashioned suit, has made his appearance known. He calls himself Peter, and is described as “a very lighthearted fellow, kind of goofy.”
Psychic investigators Jane Riese and J.R. Benight, producers of the TV Talk Show, “Seattle in Vogue,” were watching a film in the main theater auditorium. Jane felt an invisible presence playfully toying with her hair over her neck. Out of the corner of her eye, she spied a flicker of light down in front of the auditorium just right of the screen, by the exit door. She then saw the translucent form of a portly gentleman in profile, with a distinguished demeanor, watching the film on screen, enjoying himself.
Through a channeling medium Riese and J.R. Benight talked to another male spirit with a British-like accent, but no name was gotten. This suggests that perhaps Peter has a fellow male spirit to do some ghostly male bonding within the main theater, and that the pair of them help themselves to free showings when the place is empty and do their part of be “helpful.”
On other occasions, one or both of these ghostly film enthusiasts have been known to reorganize film canisters around the projection room, much to the annoyance of the living.
On several occasions over the years, Theater Managers have opened the building and found the movie projector showing a film to an unseen audience. In one instance, a projectionist arrived to start his shift and found that a movie had already been playing to an empty, dark house. He made haste to the projection room to catch the guilty party, but found that the door was locked from the inside!!!
I think that not only do this spirit Peter and the unknown male spirit enjoy films, but other unseen guests — perhaps a female apparition spotted in the balcony — do as well (mentioned below).
In the 1940s, a woman was suffocated somewhere in the building. She could be the entity in the balcony , and perhaps the same entity getting her kicks scaring administration personnel on the second floor.(See below – Second Floor Experiences)
In the balcony of the first floor theater, a female entity has been felt and seen there.
A janitor who was vacuuming the rugs suddenly got the sense that she wasn’t alone in the auditorium. After turning off the vacuum cleaner, she glanced up to the balcony and saw a figure wearing an old fashioned dress (perhaps Victorian), standing there, though she couldn’t make out the face or hands. Another young woman at a different time saw this same apparition, in a more complete form, also standing in the balcony.
For many years, The Harvard Exit building was the headquarters of the beloved Women’s Century Club, which many women called a home away from home..
Entities found in the First Floor Lobby
Two different female entities and their friends have been seen here, in person and in photos taken of a supposedly empty room. Theater Manager, Janet Wainwright, who was the Theater Manager for 10 years, met these spirits and felt they were positive and helpful.
On one of her first days on the job, Janet walked into the lobby and was startled to see a woman, sitting in a chair near the fireplace, reading a book. The woman had her hair in a bun on top of her head, wore a long, floral dress, and was just slightly see-through. Much to Janet’s fascination and horror, the woman slowly melted into thin air. At other meetings in the lobby, this ghostly female entity would look up at Janet or any human being standing there, smile pleasantly, turn off the lamp and walk out of the room.
It is traditional to have a fire burning in the first floor fireplace for the enjoyment of film patrons waiting to go into the auditorium for the evening’s film presentation. This responsibility was the duty of the evening Theater Manager. It was the first job Janet did upon arriving. Every once in awhile, the fire was already burning brightly before Janet had arrived; a spirit had helped with the chores!! On these occasions, the chairs had been moved around the fire as if people had been chatting, enjoying each others’ company. The chairs had always been moved back to their places before closing the Theater doors the night before.
Sometimes, Janet didn’t have to enter the darkened lobby to light the fire, because she would see a tall female entity leave the lobby, switching on the lights as she left, on both the first and third floors.
It is thought that this tall entity could be the spirit of Bertha K. Landis, the strong president of the Women’s Century Club and the City Federation of Women’s Clubs, who was also Seattle’s first mayor. She seems to like to help out the Theater Managers, and keep an eye on the place, while hanging out in a place she loved.
Psychic Research – Through a channeling medium, Jane Riese and J.R. Benight were able to talk to a stern, older woman, (describes Bertha Landis) who wanted to know in no uncertain terms what Janet and J.R. were up to in her place. After acknowledging that she and the other ghosts knew that they were dead, she had a hissy fit when it was suggested that she needed to move on because she no longer belonged there. “We like it here, this is our home. You wouldn’t want to leave your home in the middle of the night and neither do we.”
Second Floor Experiences
As mentioned above in the First Floor Theater section, a woman was murdered in the Harvard Exit during the 1940s. Medium Sylvia Brown describes this apparition as being a short woman, an actress dressed in a Victorian-period long dress, who was suffocated, meeting a violent end, which often creates restless, unhappy spirits.
Although the hauntings occur mainly on the first and third floors, a female apparition, a sad, forlorn soul, has appeared several times to various people working in the administrative offices. When she isn’t getting her kicks upsetting the living on the second floor, an apparition of her description has been seen in the balcony of the first floor. (See above – First Floor Theater Hauntings)
On one occasion, a man working in the second floor administration office suddenly heard a woman crying as if her heart was breaking. Going out in the hall, he saw a female in emotional distress. Thinking she was a real human being, he approached her to offer comfort, but she vanished into the air!
Several other women working in these offices through the years have also seen this full formed female apparition floating down the hall way, inspiring them to flee as fast as possible down to the main floor.
The Third Floor Hauntings
The Spirit of Bertha Landis enjoys appearing briefly to the living in the third floor lobby as well as the first floor lobby it seems. She is the most common apparition spotted by the living, and doesn’t plan to leave anytime soon.
The third floor is the favorite place for what they call a “Thought Form”, which is a strongly felt entity that makes its home,with the purpose of watching out over the building. It is described by Jane and J.R. as a being formed by mass energy, often from negative sources, which has no personality, just a collective will, that is often arrogant, dictatorial in nature.
Jane and J.R. contacted this Thought Form through a medium and came to the conclusion that it was molded over many years from several sources.
A group of strong, intense, passionate suffragettes called the Harvard Exit building their home base for many years.
In the late 1960s/early 1970s, drug parties took place in the Harvard Exit building.
Two other activities also really stirred up this entity: Seances and Spirit Communication Classes, and the Renovation of the Third Floor.
On the third floor during the ’70s, a woman would hold classes in contacting the spirits, and would lead seances.
When the theater changed hands, being bought by Landmark in 1979, a new auditorium was added to the third floor. Building renovation projects often stir the unseen entities and forces to new levels of awareness to the living.
Experiences With this Thought Form
Alan Blangy, a man not easily scared and a bit of a skeptic concerning ghosts, became the Theater Manager after Janet Wainwright’s tenure. He had an uneasy sense that something in the building was hostile to him. This something made itself known one evening when Blangy and his assistant manager were in the process of locking up the theater for the night. Suddenly he heard a loud bang, so he quickly went back inside. He heard people talking in the third floor lobby, so he went up to investigate. While no one was there, he did hear the side exit door open and close. He went over to be sure that the door had closed tightly; it hadn’t. Someone or something on the other side was pulling against him, stopping him from shutting the door.
He finally did so, but opened the door again with his assistant by his side, so he had support in confronting these “strange people.” Both men opened the door 5 seconds later, but found that no one was there. The third floor metal fire escape would’ve made a lot of noise if anyone had gone down it. After this experience, Blangy no longer sensed any hostility, but instead felt welcomed – He had passed the test!
One could conclude that while this Thought Form may be bossy and dictatorial, it can change its opinion. It sounds like the main energy of the Thought Form may be controlled by the passionate suffragette energy mass, whose main purpose is simply to watch over the building.
A group of psychics and parapsychologists spent some time at night hanging out at the theater. Some put a magnet by the third floor exit door. They witnessed over a period of weeks a large ball of energy which would appear and move across the auditorium and out the exit door, causing the magnet to revolve wildly.
Perhaps but hard to say.
Before renovation, sharing the building with the living was agreeable to all the unseen spirits and forces residing there, and the living simply accepted the manifestations as part of the Harvard Exit Theater. After renovation, some determined spirits may find a way to stay while others may leave because of all the changes.
Harvard Exit Theater
807 East Roy Street
Seattle, WA 98122
This Theater House is located in the neighborhood of Ravenna, which can be found northeast of the downtown area of Seattle.
- A Ghost Hunter’s Guide
by Arthur Myers
- The National Directory of Haunted Places
Dennis William Hauck
- Ghost Stories of Washington
by Barbara Smith
Lone Pine Publishing
- https://seattle.curbed.com/2018/7/9/17549510/harvard-exit-remodel-mexican-consulate-photos, The Harvard Exit is now the Mexican Consulate, by Sarah Anne Lloyd, July 9, 2018
Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr