Egyptian Theater has roots back to the age of the pharaohs. This historic
structure owes this connection to the discovery of the tomb of King Tut in 1922.
That set off a nationwide interest in everything Egyptian. The Egyptian
Contracts for the new theater were awarded in 1928, but construction, other than a foundation excavation, did not start until the spring of 1929. Dale Leifheit was president of the DeKalb Theater Company and served as the building’s first manager when it opened on December 10, 1929. The stock market crash in October 1929, changed some building plans, but failed to dampen the opening celebration. For example, the first several rows of the balcony were fitted with seats brought form the firm’s previous theater. The unique broken-tile main lobby floor was a compromise with a dollar shortage; it was originally supposed to be marble.
The first film on the
Egyptian’s giant screen was “The
Hottentot,” a film about horse racing; general admission was 50 cents for
adults and 25 cents for children. The live vaudeville acts generally were
reserved for weekends between movie showings. Ownership of the Egyptian changed
hands over the years, but for a majority of it commercial life, the building was
owned and operated by the Thomas Valos family which ran a chain of
The theater closed its doors in November of 1977 under its last commercial owner. With the future of the Egyptian Theater in question, community members gathered together to form the group P.E.T. Preservation of Egyptian Theater, Inc. was formed in May of 1978. P.E.T. had acquired the building and began holding events again
When P.E.T. took control of the
theater in 1978 the building was in a dismal shape. Extensive damage was visible
throughout the building, including water damage from holes in the ceiling and
crumbling plaster. Thanks to a grant from the State of
When the theater opened again in 1983 it was host to dozens of events a year. The diversity of events was impressive with multiple community groups and national groups calling The Egyptian Theater home. The Egyptian season was filled with live events, weddings, receptions, community meetings, and movies. The theater is home to DeKalb counties largest movie screen, 35 feet wide, and features independent, foreign, art and classic films.
(Reprinted from a handout flyer. Donations can be made to the Friends of
the Egyptian Theater at:
at 135 N. Second St.,
Hauntings: The theater is said to be haunted by at least two ghosts. One is said to be that of Irv Kummerfeldt who was a co-founder of P.E.T. He had a heart attack and died at the top of Aisle One of the theater’s auditorium. Reports have circulated of seeing his apparition in that area ever since. The other ghost has been dubbed “Bob” by theater workers as has been encountered all over. Objects move on their own, doors open and close and some people have felt a spectral tap on the shoulder when no one else is around. Phantom footsteps have also been reported mysteriously echoing throughout the auditorium.
The Ghost Research Society investigated the Egyptian Theater on February 2, 2010. Team members included: Dale Kaczmarek. I was joined by Willy Adkins, George Hawrylenko, Mark Schwabe and paying patrons for an after hours events
Personal experiences: No set up on equipment was conducted here;
instead, the use of hand-held equipment; Nightshot, IR and full spectrum cameras
were employed. Several group EVP sessions were conducted in the basement where
EM Pumps and the Video Ovilus was used. I did believe that I thought I saw a
black shape move quickly across the main stage from right to left. Quickly
picking up my full spectrum camera, I snapped off several shots but nothing
showed up. There were some higher than normal EMF readings on the Tri-Field
Natural EM Meter in the basement by a small staircase leading to a back door
that could not be explained.
Audio evidence: During a few sessions the name “George” kept
coming through. George Hawrylenko was in charge of the EVP sessions so perhaps
the spirits were calling for him. Other repetitive words that came through were
“Police” and “Front” which made no sense. These words came through
around 2am or so. This later made sense when I and a number of researchers went
to their cars to go home and found out that many, including me, had received
tickets for late night street parking in front of the theater. So perhaps the
Ovilus was attempting to warn us to move our cars but we didn’t put two and
Police Egyptian.MPG – while
conducting a Video Ovilus session in the basement, the Ovilus says,
Ticket Egyptian.MPG – while
conducting a Video Ovilus session in the basement, the Ovilus said,
Ticket front.MPG – while conducting a Video Ovilus session in the basement, the Ovilus said, “Ticket” followed by “Front.”
Video evidence: Nothing showed up on full spectrum or IR video taken
that evening nor any of the full spectrum, digital IR trap camera pictures or
Conclusion: I found the theater to be a fascinating place full of the possibility of paranormal potential. Due to the large amount of people that were there that evening a thorough and proper investigation could not be conducted even though they were very quiet and accommodating when EVP sessions were being conducted. I believe a more serious investigation needs to be set up sometime in the future.
Ghost Research Society (www.ghostresearch.org)
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