Genesee Theater was built in 1926 with the vision of three men; Alvin L. Brumund,
Henry Clinton Burnett and David T. Webb after purchasing the land from the YMCA
at a cost of $130,000. The theater itself was built at a cost of one million
dollars. The theater officially opened on December 25, 1927 with the movie,
“Valley of the Giants.” Tickets on opening day were 50 cents and 25 cents
during the week and 60 cents and 25 cents on Sundays and holidays. The theater
is 115, 000 square feet managed by SMG and although it was constructed primarily
for entertainment, the Genesee also included 40 apartments throughout the four
upper floors outfitted with refrigerators, stoves and private telephones. Eleven
retail spaces on the first floor held stores like Sonia’s Hat Shoppe, Funk’s
Book Nook and the Illinois Bell Telephone Company. The original seating capacity
was 1,799 and is now at 2,450.
1928, the $25,000 American Beauty Pageant for the selection of Miss Illinois was
hosted here. During Prosperity Week, the first week of October 1930, the theater
opened up a $1.00 bank account for every child born in Waukegan.
1952 the theater was renovated with some new seats, a sound system and décor
1982 the theater stopped showing movies due to economic decline and in 1989 it
was closed and up for sale. The city of Waukegan purchased the building in 1999
with major renovations costing around $23 million dollars. More than 120 donors
and volunteers contributed to this restoration. The theater reopened on December
Located at: 4203 N. Genesee Street, Waukegan, Illinois 60085
the Grand Lobby is an immense baccarat chandelier that weighs 2200 pounds, is
eighteen feet tall and eight and half feet wide. It was found in pieces in a
garage in Seattle, Washington and meticulously put back together and is now
quite gorgeous. The chandelier used to hang at the Orpheum Theater in Seattle
around 1927. It has been appraised at $350,000. On August 7, 2008, professional
psychic, Lisa Williams was there and while the performance was going on an usher
started noticing the chandelier pivot one way, then pivot a totally different
direction before returning to its original position. An associate was called and
finally the building Engineer who was crossing the walk way when he too noticed
the same thing.
ghost dog has been encountered in the Grand Lobby as well. Four people,
including three ushers, distinctly heard a dog barking. They looked up and
around and even outside and did not see anything. Another one of the building
employees was placing stuff away in the basement when he said he heard something
like claws clicking on the concrete and a low growling sound. Needless to say,
he left very quickly.
the rear of the theater is what theater employees call a prankster ghost. She
has been named Jeannie and she has played many pranks such as untying shoes,
giggling, little whisper sounds and even a short gust of wind while walking past
the Clayton Street ladies restroom, some have encountered the ghost of a young
lady in white. She is often heard but not seen. Voices are often heard in the
Ladies Restroom, motion detectors go off five minutes after being set. During
past investigations here, electronic equipment often die within the hour and
there have been reports of a red orb of light being visually seen here.
the 2nd floor landing in John Mitchell’s office a highly unusual
ghost photograph was taken of a man in the doorway on a past investigation and
sounds of laughter are sometimes heard.
the Balcony Level, crowd noises are heard, some orbs have been reported.
occurrences include the strong smell of pipe smoke. Some believe that this could
be a result of an individual who used to work at the theater and recently died.
He would often smoke in some areas of the building.
the 4th floor, three different sightings have been recorded including
the Marketing Manager who was working late and brought her dog for
companionship. The dog is normally quite docile and friendly but this one night,
it started growling and bared her teeth towards the open doorway. Then, all of a
sudden, the dog was calm again.
second occurrence happened to a new employee named Faye. They were going into a
staff meeting and when she walked in she suddenly stopped. We were all looking
at her because it was quite startling. She said that something grabbed her
final encounter relates to the 4th floor ladies room. It is said that
a young lady had passed in what was the fourth floor apartment. On more than one
occasion the female staff has said that many things happen.
of the ushers was decorating the 4th floor lounge during Christmas
and had to use the restroom, so she went into the bathroom. As she’s
conducting her business there, a door is pushed open so hard that it made a loud
bang. Then she felt a presence on the other side of her stall door. Immediately
following that sensation, a cold chill hit her chest so hard that she lost her
breath. It was like being hit with a bucket of ice. Just as fast as it came, it
investigative team, Northern Alliance of Paranormal Investigators claimed that
when they went inside this area for their initial overnight experience, they
could not stay inside for more than three minutes and later refused to use that
restroom. This was so upsetting for some staff that they would go to the second
floor to use the restroom.
has been a report of at least one suicide of a man that hung himself from the
water tower onto of the building. On the stage area, there have been reports of
a man dressed in tails and a top hat and occasionally some see a figure of a man
on the stage itself.
the basement are people say that they never feel alone as if someone is down
there with them and watching them. Cool breezes are sometimes felt along with
numerous sounds of footsteps and of a dog.
were deployed facing the stage area from the auditorium seats and another camera
was placed on the physical stage area. These were coupled with large IR lights
to illuminate the dark theater. A REM Epod was placed in the middle of the
of the time the group was mobile, using handheld equipment at various locations
throughout the theater.
Ghost Box, Ovilus X, Radio Specter and dowsing rods sessions were conducted at 4th
floor office, stage area, basement, women’s 1st floor restroom and
the 2nd floor movie memorabilia area.
Some sessions were monitored with IR camcorders and the X-Cam SLS used was deployed at several locations including the 4th floor restroom, lounge area and the movie memorabilia area.
Kos: The GRS members that were present were: Jim, Kathi,
Mike, Chuck, Stan, Dale, and Greg
The equipment used for the
night by me; Sony Cyber Shot camera in movie mode with IR light.
The camera was set up on
the main stage facing two motion detectors.
I also used a K-II meter
and voice recorder after completing set up.
I collected no evidence on
my voice recorder or camera after reviewing both. Also with the K-II nothing
I don’t know about if
anyone picked up any evidence with a voice recorder in the Ladies Room. My
recorder did not pick up anything there and the same down by the AC unit in the
basement. However I heard a little girl’s voice twice and a dog bark at both
ends of the AC room. I also witnessed the EMF reading in the Ladies Room.
Aaron Shriver, from the
Genesee was a huge help that night and I would gladly go back.
Para: GRS team members present were: Dale Kaczmarek, Stan Suho, Jim Piscopo,
Mike Wright, Chuck Williams, Greg Kos and I. The theater is quite large and
meticulously maintained. We spent quite a bit of time touring the building and
learning the history. It is an impressive location.
Due to time constraints, we couldn’t cover as much
as we would have like to but I think we got many of the “hot spots.”
Following are the sessions I was involved in:
We did EVP sessions in both the 4th floor
and the 1st floor women’s bathrooms. The 4th floor was
apartments at one time. We got a lot of K-II activity and a little Tri-Field
Natural EMF activity there. There was a heavy, almost oppressive feeling in this
room. Reviewing audio, I got a whispered response that sounds like “no”.
The 1st floor bathroom had the K-II going off the
charts in addition to some Tri-Field activity and Melmeter readings up to 2.5.
This is supposedly common for this area and cannot be debunked. The Ovilus came
up with the name “Betty” and also “out”. This room was originally
offices for the Lake County Fuel and Supply Co.
We also spent time in the 4th floor VIP
lounge, which used to be apartments. We did a dowsing rod session which was
interesting. We believed we were communicating with a woman who may have lived
there in the 1950’s. At one point we asked the woman if she would point the
rods to where she was and they pointed to a couch where Jim was sitting. Lo and
behold, a figure showed up there on the SLS X-Cam. A short while later we asked
her to go sit by Jim again and once again a figure showed up on the couch.
The stage and theater was also interesting. Mainly
we heard noises. At one point we heard footsteps on the catwalk above the stage
and we also heard what sounded like distant screams a few times. Mike tried
using the dowsing rods after a while and was getting responses but shortly after
he started one of the rods started spinning wildly. This had never happened to
him before. I asked it to stop and it did but within a couple minutes it started
spinning again. This made Mike uncomfortable and he stopped the rod session. We
had some relevant Ovilus responses also.
The basement didn’t disappoint either. We heard
several noises and also several of what sounded like dog barks. They seemed to
come from different directions and we couldn’t pinpoint or debunk any of them.
Near the end of our session in this area Mike tried the dowsing rods again but
shortly after the one rod started spinning wildly again. Since this had never
happened at any other location before it was unnerving and he decided to stop.
This was a very interesting evening and I would love
to go back to spend more time investigating.
Piscopo: We arrived at
the theater about 5:45pm. We got a tour of the theater by Aaron which was very
informative. After the tour we went about setting up equipment .I set up my Sony
camcorder with night vision on the 4th floor shooting down the hallway where the
restrooms are located.
After everyone was set up we did a number of EVP sessions
throughout the theater. During the sessions I was using a Melmeter and a
Tri-field meter. During a session in the 1st floor ladies room we had readings
of 3.0 on the Mel-Meter and some activity on the Tri-field. In the basement we
heard a dog bark several times. Other than that it was pretty quiet.
The Genesee is a beautiful theater full of history and I would love
to go back
Stan Suho: Another fine old theater dating back to the ‘20s. After
the guided tour by Aaron, we broke up in to two groups and began investigating.
Greg and I decided to do some camera setups in the auditorium and the stage
area. Dale and the rest of the group took off for places unknown. I assisted
Greg in setting up his Sony Night Shot camera on stage and I set up mine in the
back of the auditorium. Since the theater was so big, we decided not to run
cables to the monitors. Instead we used DVRs recording to SD Cards. After the
setup, we joined Dale’s group doing EVPs.
progressed smoothly as we moved from hotspot to hotspot throughout the theater.
I used my other Sony camera to take pictures of Dale’s EVP group activities.
About 11 PM we broke down and skedaddled. These old theaters are always fun to
investigate because they were big, dark, old and usually have a history attached
to them. I don’t have anything to report.
Williams: Equipment: Zoom Recorder, Mel Meter, REM Pod.
4th Floor Office- After a full tour of the building, we decided to start in the
offices, not sure why this happened but Dale & I went to the offices as
agreed, and the rest of the group went into the 4th floor VIP area.
We did an EVP Session, and then joined the rest of the group in the VIP
Area where they were doing their own EVP session including Dowsing Rods.
No personal experiences here.
whole group were together from here on out.
We had Rem Pod activity/ Shadow detection in rear of theatre.
Of Note in the Basement (Felt a little creepy as all do) was the sound of
a dog barking, as noted in our walk through.
Kathy felt it was too regular, and might be able to debunk it, as she
said this, it stopped. Need to
review evidence to make my decision.
1st Floor Ladies Room:
where duty calls, the men of GRS treaded into the women’s washroom.
No personal experiences noted here.
4th Floor Museum: Ended the night here,
No personal experiences here.
Wright: The evening started with a tour of the theater and
a brief history of the building.
The theater was the most
cleanest and organized theater I have ever been in, the people in charge of the
upkeep of the building are doing an excellent job of maintaining the structure.
In the first session I had
some dowsing rod activity but did not get any distinguishable EVPs on my
During the second session
on the main stage my dowsing rods started spinning around in a circle which they
never did before.
When we moved to the
basement of the theater we heard some noises which sounded like a dog barking,
on the recorder it also sounded like a dog barking.
In the bathroom we had some
meter readings but I could not hear any EVPs partly because there was quite a
bit of background noises.
During the last sessions
did not get any activity, was very pleased and grateful for the opportunity to
do an investigation at this wonderful theater, and would like to go back again
to do another investigation.
Dale Kaczmarek: This
was an incredible investigation and seeing that the GRS was only the third
official paranormal group to investigate this beautiful building, it made it
even more special. As usual this building didn’t disappoint us as there were
many EVP sessions were we received very relevant answers to questions posed to
any possible spirits that were lingering here. While investigating the stage
area, several members including myself noticed a strange flashing blue light
near the entrance to the auditorium. Upon investigating, it suddenly stopped
flashing and did not appear again. I have no idea what it could have been as
none of the equipment set up in the area blinks blue.
I also believed that
someone touched me on the shoulder or upper back while I was sitting on the
stage with my feet dangling off. That is interesting due to the fact that a
female employee also reported being touched on the shoulder as well.
While in the basement
conducting EVP sessions, all of us several times heard what sounded like a dog
barking and it seemed to come from one side of the basement and then the other
side. Some believe that it was too rhythmic but we could not debunk it or
explain the sound. It did not appear on my recorder but others did capture the
While conducting a Ovilus X
session in the 1st floor women’s restroom, the Ovilus suddenly said
“out” and I repeated it. At the same moment, Jim and Kathie were further
back by the stalls when the Melmeter they were using shot up to a 2.3 reading.
Several stick figures were
picked up using the X-Cam SLS system in the bathroom, 4th floor VIP
lounge and near the movie memorabilia area.
This was a very interesting
investigation and it took some time to get it set up. A huge thanks to our
Planning Committee Person Greg Kos for making the connections with staff and
Aaron Shriver for showing up around and joining us in our EVP sessions. Aaron
has since expressed interest in joining our group.
The Ghost Research Society investigated the Genesee Theater June 12, 2017. Team members included: Stan Suho, Greg Kos, Jim Piscopo, Kathie Para, Michael Wright, Chuck Williams and Dale Kaczmarek with help from Aaron Shriver
Basement bark genesee.MPG
– while conducting an EVP session in the basement a sound like a dog bark was
heard and recorded.
Basement bark noise
genesee.MPG – while conducting an EVP session in the basement another sound
like a dog bark followed by a noise was heard and recorded.
Basement dog or child
genesee.MPG – while conducting an EVP session in the basement, a question was
asked, “Are you hiding from somebody?” In the background a sound like a dog
bark was heard by all and recorded.
Basement noise again
genesee.MPG – while conducting an EVP session in the basement yet another
sound similar to that of a dog barking was heard and recorded.
Basement noise genesee.MPG
– while conducting an EVP session in the basement, a comment was made, “We
really came to see if you were okay.” Immediately following that comment
another noise is heard and recorded.
Beep genesee.MPG –
Piscopo’s static camcorder facing down the 3rd floor hallway picked
a “Beep” that could not be ascertained as to the cause.
Come on genesee.MPG –
during the initial walk-through William’s camcorder picks up a whisper in the
background that says, “Come on.”
– during the initial walk-through William’s camcorder picks up another
whisper in the background that can be heard over Shriver’s dialog that says,
Door hiss genesee.MPG –
Piscopo’s static camcorder facing down the 3rd floor hallway picked
up what sounds like a door closing followed by a long hissing sound.
Door sound genesee.MPG –
Piscopo’s static camcorder facing down the 3rd floor hallways
picked up the sound of a door closing and the rest of the crew were on another
floor at the time of this sound.
Gasp genesee.MPG – while
conducting an EVP session in the 4th floor ladies restroom, a comment
was made, “We’re in the ladies washroom that’s haunted…” Immediately
after this comment a female “Gasp” can be heard.
Genesee1.MPG – while investigating
the men’s restroom with the X-Cam SLS system, a stick figure suddenly appears
on a wall.
Genesee2.MPG – while conducting an
EVP session near the movie memorabilia area, the X-Cam SLS system suddenly
picks up a small stick figure on the hand rail of the stairs heading to the
Genesee3.MPG – while conducting an
EVP session in the 4th floor VIP lounge area, a stick figure appears
in between the windows and directly behind Piscopo.
Genesee4.MPG – while conducting an EVP session in the 4th floor VIP lounge area, a stick figure appears again on the back wall.
Get out of here genesee.MPG
– during the initial walk-through, William’s camcorder picks up a low male
voice saying, “Get out of here.” This was recorded during Shriver’s
North Carolina genesee.MPG
– while finishing up an EVP session in the basement, a question was asked,
“What’s left that we haven’t been through that’s pretty active? (Talking
about locations in the building.)” A whispered voice in the background says,
Scream genesee.MPG –
while conducting an EVP session in the stage area, a faint and distant scream
can be heard in the background.
Theater stage distant
scream.MPG – while conducting an EVP session in the stage area, another faint
and distant scream was recorded.
They are genesee.MPG –
while conducting an Ovilus X session on the 4th floor office, a
question was asked, “Is there anyone behind me?” The Ovilus responds with,
Washington genesee.MPG –
while conducting an Ovilus X session, a question was asked, “How about that
spotlight over there? Is anyone still operating that spotlight? What’s your
name?” Immediately the Ovilus responds with the name, “Washington.”
Weird note genesee.MPG –
while conducting an EVP session in the 4th floor VIP lounge area, a
question was asked, “Do you believe that?” Immediately afterwards a “Weird
note” sound was recorded.
Women’s back 4th
floor whisper genesee.MPG – while conducting an EVP session on the 4th
floor, a question was asked, “Are you here with us?” A low whisper is heard
as a possible response.
Yeah genesee.MPG – while
conducting an Ovilus session in the 4th floor office, a question was
asked, “Are you trying to do something live?” The Ovilus responds with,
Words spoken by the
Ovilus X is dictionary mode:
Office: pillow, book and excel.
Stage area: mend, building,
Jen, cupcake, dinner, real, felt, piece, quick, twenty, oremus, sister, anything
Basement: bush, hardly,
decompose, quiet, porch, bunny, class, couch, dinner, passed, indicate, flowers,
rot, who, loss, friendly, hide, alive, stood, Jen, cards, numb and modern.
Women’s restroom 1st
floor: out, along, level, gravity, Betty and song.
Movie memorabilia area:
position, result, Washington, suit, dinner, plant, soil, products, sister,
dominate and level.
seemed to be a pretty active location. There were a lot of sounds especially in
the basement that could not be replicated or debunked. They could have been
perfectly normal sounds except for the fact that Shriver has investigated this
theater many times in the past and would have probably recognized those noises
are natural for the theater.
The location was so big
that it would be almost impossible to do a proper set-up with cables strung back
to a Command Center so all cameras were just static and had to be reviewed at a
later date and no real-time sounds or movements were noted.
The location was maze-like
and very easy to get lost and turned around in so the group pretty much stuck
together and with the help of Shriver was easily able to navigate this property.
A very beautiful theater and it would be worth another visit in the future!
Ghost Research Society (www.ghostresearch.org)
© 2017 Dale Kaczmarek. All rights reserved.
Web site created by Dale Kaczmarek