Coronado Theater Investigation

The Coronado Theater was constructed by the The Rockford Enterprises Group headed by Willard Van Matre who commissioned Peoria architect Frederic Klein to design the movie place in June of 1926. In May of 1927 the name Coronado was chosen from a contest in the Rockford Register Gazette and Great States Theaters. Other finalists included, Normaine, Madrid, Avalon, Valencia, Seville, Black Hawk, Paradise, Cortez and Aargon. The theater’s grand opening was on October 7, 1927 to approximately 9,000 patrons during three showings of “Swim Girl Swim,” a silent film starring Bebe Daniels.

Other notables that appeared at the Coronado included Bob Hope, the Marx Brothers, Gypsy Rose Lee, Sammy Davis Jr., John F. Kennedy, Liberace, Louis Armstrong and Milton Berle. In 1953 founder Willard Van Matre dies at age 63. Possession of the theater then passes to his widow. In July of 1970 the Kerasotes Corporation and George Kerasotes purchased the theater. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Locations in 1979 and on the State of Illinois Register of Historic Sites a year later.

Finally in 1984 the Coronado closes its doors to the movie business with the feature film “Mickey’s Christmas Carol.” In 1997 the Kerasotes Corporation donated the theater to the city of Rockford and a year later the Friends of the Coronado is formed to raise $18.5 million for its renovation. The theater reopened in January of 2001.


Located at: 314 N. Main St., Rockford, IL. 61101

Telephone: 815-968-2722



Hauntings: An employee of the theater, Dwayne, has had several strange encounters including seeing an apparition of a lady in white moving among the seats in the balcony before totally disappearing. He was also witness to an event along with organist Don who was here late one evening rehearsing on the organ when they both heard a door on the stage open. Looking towards the exit sign, they saw a dark figure of a man. As they moved in his direction and even called out to him, he vanished. This encounter happened in 1970.

Michael Goldberg who originally bought the “ghost light” for the theater claimed that it would never stay upright. On the first night of its assemblage, they arrived the next morning to find the light toppled over and broken. They repaired the light only to find it in the same condition the following morning again. They eventually spoke to the spirits and said that the light wasn’t harmful and since then the ghost light hasn’t been touched or knocked over.

Allegedly a ghost dog has been reported in the men’s lounge. People hear the sound of a dog barking and “real” dogs won’t venture into that room because they sense something.



The GRS investigated Coronado Theater on February 23, 2013 and the team included: Dale Kaczmarek with help from Kathi Kresol, Melissa Tanner and members of TNT Paranormal, psychics Sara Bowker and Paul Smith. This was a public event.








Equipment setup: Since this was a public event and we were being escorted between four different locations throughout the evening; main auditorium, dressing room, upstairs apartments and owner’s apartments, no equipment was set up. Instead only hand-held equipment was employed. I used a Sony Nightshot IR camcorder, digital recorder, digital camera, digital IR camera, Ovilus X with DTD screen, SB-7 Ghost Box, Melmeter 8704-REM, Tri-Field Natural EM Meter.

Experiments performed: EVP sessions and sometimes Ovilus sessions were conducted throughout the building. I allowed my DTD device to be hooked up to TNT Paranormal Ovilus X device for easily understanding the words produced by the device.

Personal experiences: Sensitives Paul and Sara picked up a name of Maggie or Magdalene in the auditorium area and Melissa Tanner said she saw shadow play in the balcony as well as some of the seat lights being blocked out by shadows. During the first session on the stage, I did see what looked like a dark shadow sit down in a seat in the far right-hand side of the balcony. After looking through my night vision camera, I saw nobody there.

While conducting the first EVP session in the dressing room the group all clearly heard the sound of footsteps twice walk overhead. These were recorded on my digital recorder and camcorder at the time. This room was originally Mr. McKenna’s workshop and not a part of the original theater until after its renovation in 1999 and according to our theater guide, Marti, no one could have been walking over us as it’s the ramp to get into the theater from Park Avenue!

My Tri-Field Natural EM Meter which isn’t sensitive to indoor AC fields was spiking between a 10-15 in the owner’s apartment during the first session when placed on one of the original pieces of furniture that once belonged to Mrs. Van Metre. The Ovilus also responded with the word, “female” about this time.

Evidence collected:

EMF.Mpg a video clip showing the Tri-Field Natural EM Meter spiking in the owner’s apartment.

Footsteps1.MPG the clear sound of footsteps during an EVP session in the dressing room which was heard and recorded.

Footsteps2.MPG additional sound of footsteps.

Moan.MPG while conducting the 2nd EVP session in the owner’s apartment, a TNT member talks about tagging EVPs and at the end, a clear “moan” is heard and reacted to by many.

Portal.MPG while conducting the 1st Ovilus session in the owner’s apartment, the Ovilus X says, “portal.”

Smell anomaly.MPG while conducting the 1st Ovilus session in the owner’s apartment the Ovilus X says, “Smell” at about the same time people in the background begin reacting to a flowery odor. It then responds with, “Anomaly.”

Window car.MPG while conducting the 1st Ovilus session in the apartment the device says, “Window” I ask, “Who’s by the window?” It responds with, “Car.”

Yeah.MPG while conducting the 2nd EVP session in the owner’s apartment, a mention was made for the spirits to talk into the orange lights and a true EVP voice was picked up. A whispery female voice saying, “Yeah.”

Conclusions: This was an amazing place to investigate! Theaters very often hold onto place memories whether they are good or bad and these can be heard and recorded as residual tidbits or intelligent responses. I would love the opportunity of investigating the location again with more equipment and a smaller crew so there would be less of a chance for contamination of evidence. I TNT crew were very professional, courteous and knowledgeable about their equipment and protocol and I look forward to working with them again in the future.

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