Ghost stories about this massive auditorium have been whispered around town for decades. Some people talk about icy cold spots in several auditorium seats or about the apparition that sometimes appears in the control booth, but the spookiest story revolves around the basement.
As the legend goes, a maintenance man named Gus fell down the stairs one fateful night. He broke his neck and died instantly. Instead of crossing over into the white light, he went back to work instead and now roams the shadowy hallways. Surprised guests have nearly bumped into him in the lady’s dressing room, while others have heard his phantom footsteps on the stairs.
The auditorium was built in 1913 by funds provided by Dr. Edward Murphy. Dr. Murphy was an interesting part of New Harmony’s history. He came to town as a 13 year-old shoeless orphan, but was industrious and clever. He managed to save enough money doing odd jobs to put himself through medical school and became one of the wealthiest men in town. After his death, he provided funding to build this auditorium. For the last century, Murphy Auditorium has hosted thousands of musical and theater performances, keeping the masses entertained.
Theaters like this are ripe for a haunting. For many people, it was a place where dreams came true. For others, it was a place of sorrow and anguish. The lost souls often return to relive their happiest moments, while others mourn the loss of what could have been.
We had an exciting investigation and had quite a few experiences.
We always divide into smaller groups to insure everyone has a good experience. In this case, we had three locations we investigated: the stage, the lobby and the basement.
We introduced ourselves and started in on the investigation using the Portal. It is a device that is hooked into several spirit boxes.
We went around the group asking questions. Here are the highlights:
- How old are you? Fourteen
- I was fiddling with the Portal trying to change the setting and a woman said, “Who knows that?”
Ben Adams came onto the stage with his SLS camera, which shows stick figures if a ghost appears. He aimed it around the stage and caught a figure sitting in a chair. Everyone had a chance to see it. We then moved onto dowsing rods. Here are some highlights:
- There wasn’t someone still sitting in the chair, but they confirmed that someone was sitting there earlier.
- There was someone named John there (her late husband).
- There were three male ghosts
- None of them were related to one another
- None of them were named Richard
- They know each other
- They’ve been there a long time
- One of them isn’t the maintenance man
- One of them worked in the theater area
- None of them worked in the electrical area
- There were performers there
- Drama was their favorite
- They traveled to other areas to be in performances, but this was their favorite place
- One of them had a lead role
- It was a good place to work and they were happy there
- They weren’t well known
- They miss their family
- We asked the rods to point to where they were on the room and they responded. One was behind me and the other was behind Abby. Another was in the other corner
- There was a woman there. She was an actress.
- They didn’t all get along
- They are all pleasant. No mean ones there!
We started off with a Portal session and had so much activity, we ended up sticking with it.
- Can you say hi to the group? No
- Who’s in charge? Me
- What is your name? Mike
- Mike, were you an actor? No
- How many of you are with us right now? With the company
- I thought I heard the name “Emily” come across the device
- Out of the blue, a woman’s voice said, “You told me to move.”
- Do you remember the graduations here? French Lick
- Are you republican or democrat? Republican
- Can you see how many fingers I’m holding up? One, three…f-it!
- Is Dr. Murphy here? Yes
We once again had a lot of responses with the Portal.
- Is there more than one male on the stage? One
- Did you perform here? No
At that point, one of the members of the group, Ashley, began seeing a man standing at the edge of the stage. Her friend could also see him too. We’d been hearing noises in the corner, so it made sense but none of the rest of us could see him. We then got a male voice across the Portal that sounded like, “Been following for me.” Then, a female voice said, “Camera.” I had walked to the edge of the stage to take photos with my phone.
From the Portal:
- What is the name of the man standing behind me? Ismail
- If the man is still in the corner can you come touch the K2? No. Listen.
- To the man in the corner: did you help fund this building? No
- Can I come back and stand with you? No and then yes, so she moved back there.
- Are you still back here with me? No
Everyone was still convinced someone was behind the curtain, so Ben walked over there with his camera and asked if someone was there. We then heard a very deep, creepy voice say, “no.”
- Can you tell me who’s performing tonight? Me
- Do you have a solo? Just one
- Is there anything you want to tell us? No, I don’t.
- Did you like music? I did
- Is there more than one person? Yes
The basement is often the spookiest location for any investigation and this one did not disappoint. Legends about Gus, the former maintenance man, have been circulating for years and we finally connected with him.
They didn’t have any luck with the Spirit Box in the basement, but the REM Pod immediately began reacting as though someone was touching it to make it go off. They decided to turn off the Spirit Box and began using dowsing rods. Here is what they found:
- There was more than one person down there with them.
- One of them was a man. One of them was a woman. The man is Gus.
- She wasn’t in the dressing room that Lisa was in.
- She was an actress.
They were seeing shadows moving along the wall, so Traci started talking to Gus.
- He likes watching women in the dressing room change.
- He likes to scare people in the basement. He thinks it’s fun.
- He likes to hang around in the men’s dressing room.
- He likes when there are plays there – the REM pod flashed when she asked this
- The woman was still there too. She was down the hall (they could also hear footsteps).
- The woman’s name started with a J. It was Jennifer.
- Jennifer was there when the building was built (1913-1914).
- She visited New Harmony to watch the plays. She stays there because she still enjoys the plays.
- Jennifer knew Dr. Murphy, the one who donated funds to build the building.
- Dr. Murphy was there. He wishes there were more plays there.
- The REM Pod started going off as Traci was explaining USI’s former contract for doing theater there. It was cancelled right before the pandemic started and the building has been fairly quiet since then.
- They enjoyed the Big Whopper contest and agreed with the winner.
They had quite a few interesting experiences. From the dowsing rods:
- Gus was still down there.
- Jennifer was still down there as well.
One of the guests was grabbed during the dowsing rod session. Traci scolded them about touching the guests.
- Gus has friends down there. They are picky with who they respond to.
- There are more than two ghosts down there.
- There was more than one ghost in both dressing rooms.
- The woman was no longer in the room with them.
Another one of the guests was touched. He felt something grab his shoulders.
- Are you the one who touched my shoulders? Yes
- Was one of the other people to my left? Yes
- Are the people in the dressing rooms getting ready for a show? No
The woman who was touched began asking questions.
- Gus, are you the one who touched me? Yes
- Gus, was there anyone else who touched me at the same time? No
- Gus, did you touch me to get my attention? Yes
- Gus, are you still standing by me right now? Yes
- Are you happy I’m sitting next to you? Yes
- Gus, is there a female in the other dressing room? Yes
Traci started the group with a dowsing rod session. She also asked the ghosts to refrain from touching the guests, but she also warned the guests that the ghosts may or may not listen to her.
- Gus, are you still with us? Yes
- Do you still have others with you? Yes
- Gus, do you like me? No (group laughed)
- Are you feeling okay? Yes
- Will you talk to me? Slow Yes
- Are you excited to have us here? No
- When they asked the rods to point to Gus, they pointed to a chair. Traci commented that he’s been sitting there all night.
- He’s the one who turned the light off outside
- Gus knows the lady in the dressing room behind Traci.
- She’s afraid to come out to see them
- They heard a knock on the wall in the dressing room. The woman was the one who did it.
- There is someone in the women’s dressing room, but more than one in the men’s dressing room.
- Gus didn’t touch the girl in the last group
- They were getting fewer responses, so Traci took the rods and asked to point out where the others were sitting. They pointed to the couch. It was a woman. Her name started with a J. Her name is Jane, not Jennifer.
- Dr. Murphy was still there. He didn’t get to see the plays when he was alive, but he watches them now.
- He remembers the spelling bees there. He remembers Traci being in the spelling bee. She asked him if she won and he said yes, which wasn’t correct.
- He doesn’t miss having kids there.
One of the women in the group sat on the couch and asked if she was sitting on Jane. The response was no.
Over the years, people have reported feeling chilled in the lobby and have heard footsteps on the stairs to the auditorium. We wanted to see if anyone would engage with us and had some pretty significant experiences.
Rick started his group off with a dowsing rod session. Here are the results:
- He worked at the auditorium
- He was a maintenance man
- He wasn’t Gus
- He didn’t live in town
- He didn’t do a lot of traveling
- He wasn’t born in Indiana
- He wasn’t married
- He knew Gus
- He didn’t work with Gus
- He didn’t have any pets
- He did have kids
- He lived on a farm
- His kids were from one partner
They started off with a Spirit Box Session but didn’t get anything so they moved onto dowsing rods.
- There was a male there
- He likes the woman who was dowsing
- He was the man in the ticket booth who didn’t like her dad (?)
- He doesn’t like the dowsing rods
- He likes some of the people in the room
- He doesn’t want to walk past her to show his presence
- There were two ghosts in the room
- He worked there
- He sees the K2 in the middle of the room
- He can go touch it
- He’s lying to them
Rick began with a Spirit Box session. As soon as he turned the box on, a woman’s voice came through and asked what sounded like, “Where’s my paramore?”
After a few more questions a woman’s voice came through again and asked. “What’s the word?”
They moved to dowsing rods, but before they could get into the session, the recorder stopped recording. There was no reason for it. The battery was still full and there was plenty of data room on the recorder. Perhaps the ghosts of Murphy Auditorium didn’t want us to have a record of the rest of the session.
Overall, we couldn’t have been happier with the results of the investigation. Of course, we all hoped to see a full apparition float across the stage, but that didn’t happen. At the end of the investigation, we were treated to a channeling session by our friend Lisa Dickens.
During her session, she talked about Emily. She liked her blue dress best. She worked the register. She said there were lots of horse drawn carriages and they had a trolley. Her last name was Styles. She also saw Jennifer on the stage. This was a name they got in the basement. She loved it when they had opera. She wasn’t married yet. “As soon as I do, I won’t be able to work anymore,” she said.
She also talked about Josiah. “Some people called him Henry, though,” she said. Henry’s last name was Abbott. His full name was Josiah Henry Abbott.
I was unable to find any information about either of these people, but it was an interesting experience to witness.
I want to thank everyone for coming out. Thank you to my amazing team for making it happen.