Egyptian Theater Investigation

The 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 influence reached DeKalb County in 1928, when the DeKalb Theater Company was trying to settle on a design for a combination motion picture and vaudeville theater. Needing a larger facility than its theater at the corner of First Street and Lincoln Highway, the firm talked with Chicago theater architect Elmer F. Behrens.

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 Midwest motion-picture houses.

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 Illinois a $2.125 million renovation was started in 1982 and finished by the fall of 1983.

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: PO Box 385, DeKalb, IL. 60115)

Located at 135 N. Second St., DeKalb, IL. 60115, 815-758-1215


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 two together.  

Police Egyptian.MPG – while conducting a Video Ovilus session in the basement, the Ovilus says, “Police.”  

Ticket Egyptian.MPG – while conducting a Video Ovilus session in the basement, the Ovilus said, “Ticket.”  

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 regular digital.  

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.

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